Due to a God-arranged series of events, I was recently offered a free membership at our local Curves, the “gym” for women. Since I had been praying for some way to get into better shape (although, as I’ve often heard, “round” is a shape), I eagerly accepted.
A little context: In grade school, back when the kids still chose up teams, I was the stereotypical “last kid” nobody wanted. I passed high school P.E. by showing up with a freshly washed uniform every Monday. If a sport involves any sort of ball, from ping pong to softball, I’m worse than pathetic. In fact, my 11th grade tennis teacher told me I was so hopeless, I would never learn to play tennis. I’d like tell you the story of how that comment inspired me to become a skilled tennis player, but God frowns on lying.
Since then, in my lifelong quest for physical fitness with minimum of effort, I’ve tried folk dancing (loved it!), body surfing (heaven, but then I moved away from Southern California), swimming (you can exercise while lying down and you don’t get sweaty, but it does require a pool and your hair gets all messed up), running (that lasted until I broke up with the runner I was dating at the time), and walking (boring, but all right except when it’s too hot or too cold or too icy or too windy or too dark or…).
Now however, at the doddering age of 56, I am experiencing something new, something I never expected to happen to me. I’m working out nearly every day… and I love it!
I’m not going to get all advertising-y about Curves. Let’s just say that about the time you are beginning to feel achy and tired, you move on to something different so you can begin to get achy and tired in a new way.
The read draw for me, and the reason I can’t wait to go every morning, is the other women I’m meeting.
There are a few buff bodies, but for the most part they’re a bit on the pudgy size, working off some love handles, not out to win the Olympics but just hoping to feel better and be healthier… and maybe get those old pants zipped again. In other words, they’re a lot like me.
What really hit me is how incredibly nice everyone is. Someone walks in the door and everyone calls out hello. Someone leaves and we all say good-by. Inbetween there’s encouragement and sympathy, laughter and support.
After we do our workouts, we grab a glass of water or a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and sit around one of several tables, chatting. Topics range from families to jobs to churches, to the trials of diets or the side effects of chemo or surviving the absence of a deployed husband. I’ve never met such a supportive group of women.
Since we live in the Colorado Springs area, and this particular Curves is owned by a group of women who met one another at church, it’s no surprise that most of the members are believers. In may ways, we’re our own little church. In fact, I learned that last month a group of Curves-friends actually went on a retreat together. Amazing.
The other wonderful part about working out is that I have more energy during the rest of the day. My previous attempts at physical fitness always left me exhausted and in pain, overwhelmed by the mere thought of carrying laundry up the stairs. Now I’ve learned that I can’t undo years of inactivity overnight. It’s enough just to make some progress. I find that I actually get more work done on days I work out, even though it “costs” me a couple of hours.
This principle doesn’t just apply to exercise. For years I’ve succumbed to the idea that when I have too much to do, I don’t have time to pray. I might mumble a quick “help me” as I’m rushing around, but I don’t take time to really enter His presence, to listen to the Spirit, to submit my plans to His will and soak in His power. And usually, I end the day stressed and frazzled and still overwhelmed.
Seeing how much more I get done on days I stop to exercise has been a huge eye-opener. I need to remember that when I have a full to-do list, when there aren’t enough hours in the day, when I know I’ll run out of steam before I run out of chores—those are the times I especially need time with God. When I’m really, really busy, I don’t have time not to pray!
What works for you? How do you stay in shape? How do you find time to focus on God on your most busy days?