A colleague of mine is on Day 4 of "P90X" from Beachbody.
Until he started Facebooking about P90X, I had never heard of it. So I make a quick visit to the company website where I learn that by using the P90X home training system ("our most extreme home fitness training system ever!! Just 3 payments of $39.95 plus $19.95 s & h") you'll "GO FROM REGULAR TO RIPPED IN JUST 90 DAYS!"
So apparently you throw in a P90X DVD each day and for an hour sweat like mad in your basement or bedroom or workout room or wherever you happen to have your television set up and enough room to move around. The system boasts different workouts for each session so your muscles don't get accustomed to a particular set of moves and thus you encounter none of the dreaded fitness "plateaus."
But not for me.
I've tried working out at home. DVDs, the Fitness channel, following the instructions in a book, etc.
I always stop after just a few days or a few weeks.
What I realize today while I am at the gym is that working out at home to a DVD or the TV has never worked for me. And not because I don't like to work out...quite the opposite - I really like working out.
But what I truly enjoy is sharing the experience of exercising with other people.
At the gym.
There is something about being with a group of people who are sharing the same kind of physical activities at the same time that I find extremely comforting. That I just cannot get from watching people exercise on a DVD.
Sharing the experience of breathing and moving and focusing with other human beings in the flesh is akin to a kind of collective meditation.
There is an energy at the gym that I can't get at home by myself.
It is the energy of solidarity.
When I'm on the treadmill I am focused on my breathing and the movement of my body. I do not read or watch television and I usually ignore the music that is playing.
Breathe and move.
Breathe and move.
And absorb the energy of the person on the next treadmill or the bike behind me or on the elliptical trainer just down the way.
We are all breathing and moving.
And moving and breathing.
Not a true meditation practice, but as close as I have gotten to a regular group practice in many years.
Lifting weights or stretching - I am again focused on my body, on my muscles, on the breath, on feelings of becoming stronger, more fit and healthy.
The rest of the world simply drops away.
Again - a kind of meditation.
And although I am focused inward while I am moving and breathing and sweating I am still - on some deeper level - aware of the people around me.
Aware of their energy. Their breath. Their strength.
When I see a very heavyset person sweating away on the elliptical trainer or the bike or the treadmill I am inspired to work harder. To breathe deeper. To push a little more.
I notice the weightlifters with their incredible drive and focus. While I have no desire to look like them, I do want to emulate their commitment.
I watch other women - fit women whose bodies I admire. I observe what they're doing to achieve their levels of fitness. They inspire me, too.
Every single person I encounter in this world is an inspiration and a source of energy and comfort.
The gym has become for me more than just a place to get in some exercise.
It is a community.
Will I become "ripped" in just 90 days?
But that doesn't bother me. I know that slow and steady is the best route for me.
And I have a place to go each day where I can escape from the world of work and aggravations and stress...a place where I can enjoy the breath and the body and community and solidarity and quietness of the mind.