Steve Eaton: Why exercise at my age feels like I've been buried alive in a gravel pit

Published: Friday, Jan. 31 2014 4:55 p.m. MST

"Do you know that last week at this time, I weighed 540 pounds?" I said as I tried to keep from going off the end of the treadmill. "Now I only weigh 520 pounds."

"Good for you!" she said in a very supportive way.

I had been hoping she would roll her eyes and tell me that there was no way I was more than 500 pounds. My wife said she may have been just trying to be polite and play along like strangers do when I tell them stories about my time as a rodeo cowboy and synchronized swimmer. She may have felt it better to just encourage me before I tripped, fell on her treadmill and cleaned us both out of the exercise business.

This is not a pretty business. I keep at it, knowing that at the very least I make everyone in the class feel better about themselves. I spend much of my time trying to figure out a way out of the burpees.

I tried once to put an end to the class by shouting in my best trainer impersonation that everyone had done well and that was "it" for the night. It was a desperate and ill-conceived approach because the instructor, who is normally quite supportive, was standing right there. The next time he had us do burpees again, only just before we leaped to our feet we were to do so with a weight that we were to thrust over our heads.

That's one principle to remember when it comes to being an overweight, old person in a gym: know it can always get worse.

So, next time you see me, would you make some kind of encouraging remark about how good I look? Would you resist the temptation to make some joke about me being a 500-pound fit person?

Perhaps you could just say, "Hey, have you been leaping in the air with weights or buried alive in a gravel pit?"

That may be just enough to motivate me to go back to the gym, only this time I'll do so with the classic Chicago song in my head:

"And knowing that you would have wanted it this way; I do believe I'm feeling taller everyday."

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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