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Uplift!

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Working it out

On one of their more recent morning catch-up chats, Diem asked Michael about his plans for the day. “I’ll start with a workout at the gym and then see how much energy I have left,” was the reply. She commented how he seemed devoted to his morning workouts, allocating at least two and often three mornings a week to them. “You must have a regular following there after all these years,” was her closing comment. Michael thought, “Perhaps so, except for the fact that there is a new group there almost each month.”

 

He had often remarked to himself that January and February were always so crowded at the gym. Every corner was full. In the pool, the swimmers were swimming. Upstairs, the classrooms were bursting with people yogaing, sculpting, balancing, and strengthening. In the equipment room people were pedaling and treadmilling, stair climbing and rope skipping, squatting and stretching. There was a steady parade of walkers, joggers, and runners on the track. Even along the sides of the courts, pickledballers were waiting their turn in the kitchen. This month, you can count the number of people in the entire building on 2 hands and a foot and have a few digits left over.

 

Every year is the same. The building is bursting at its seams in January. By February the classrooms are still full, but the waiting lists grow empty; by March there is room to put an empty bike between the pedalers and a stair stepper between the climbers. April sees the inside track near deserted and half of the courts given over to basketball teams, the pickle ballers shrunken to just two spaces.  By summer the building will take on an almost peaceful atmosphere, the quiet broken occasionally by the clang of free weights being dropped to the floor.

 

Michael is never sure what to make of that. The huge January influx clearly the result of the resolution makers and the rosters benefactors of well-intentioned gift memberships. That people lose interest after the first 30 or 60 days is pretty predictable. That a big drop in attendance coincides with March’s more temperate weather patterns certainly is no surprise. There was a time we would have “poo-poo’d” those not tough enough or with the discipline needed to stick with a year-round commitment to exercise and good health. But then Michael remembers his presence waxes and wanes with the seasons. He supposes after all the years, he’s earned the right to join the “do as much as you think you can, and you too will reap at least some benefits” phase of exercise life.

 

We wonder if life follows that same pattern. In our young adulthoods, our childhoods in our careers, we went all out, volunteered for special programs or committees, brought new ideas to the bosses. After a couple years, we were still very much engaged at work but started wondering if we were leaving home too early in the morning and work too late in the evening and might be sabotaging our home lives. More years go by and the only extra duty we look forward to is training new staff members, knowing there is an ever-present supply of eager new employees ready to step in when the day comes when we can begin to collect our retirement benefits, the last close of the desk drawer clanging as loud as the fallen free weights in a gym in July.

 

Even for as predictable as it may be, it is not that people are inherently lazy or not dedicated enough to their own well-being or to their professional lives. It is that as one interest rises, another must wane to keep the mind and body moving at the same energy level. We just don’t see that in everybody.

 

The person who visits the gym fewer times and participates less in group exercise classes probably is increasing their activity at home with lawn and garden work. The older worker is not tired of his or her job but is concentrating on family life and addressing changes at home is vastly more important than striving for stability at work.

 

When looked at through the eyes of society and how each person in a society has a specific role, the fluctuations in gym attendance or in work vitality is easily understood because the unseen increases in home and family activity makeup for the losses we do see.

 

Just as we don’t want someone to critique our work or our choices without knowing the full extent of our family responsibilities, neither should we try to make out why others’ energy fluctuate. Just know that somewhere, someone is reaping the benefit of the strength and desire you are not seeing. Somehow, it all works out.

 


Working out


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2 Comments


There's something powerful about understanding the entire story. What you all put forward--the change in energy and engagement--is usually accompanied by a significant reason. How often do we stop to ask the right questions? Our tendency to judge others when we assume what we see is all that's happening is such a heaviness we place on others. I love how you two are so upbeat and positive about intentions of others. If we were all more about believing the best in others rather than critiquing what we think is happening, we'd all get along a lot better. I will opt for this point of you any time. Thanks for bringing this point into the light--it does work.

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Thank you Dayle. It is powerful to know the whole story. Necessary even. We can’t say it any other than if you want to be taken seriously, you better be taking others seriously and that means understanding how they filter their world. 

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