Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude always becomes the main focus of my writing, which for today is for an action I took that I never thought I’d take again due to all my long-standing health issues, that being to join a gym and actually work out again.

I haven’t been a member of any gym since 2013. I stopped going back then because of all the Fibromyalgia pains and sciatica and well a bunch of other life debilitating health issues too. It honestly just became too painful to go, especially on the physical level, but even on the mental and emotional level as well. Being so limited on what I could do at a gym, I just felt like it became a waste of time and money.

While I rarely missed going to the gym over the years after that, mostly because of how bad I felt in my body, I never stopped hoping I’d get back to it one day. Then, one day, just a few weeks ago now, I was talking to a friend named Jym, who told me he had just accepted a full-time position at one of the local branches of the YMCA. He suggested I check out his location sometime. Even though plenty of others have suggested I do that with their gyms in past years, I never felt the desire to do so, until that very moment. I don’t know why I felt different this time, but I did. So, a few days later, I decided to check out the JCC YMCA that Jym worked at.

Being that I don’t have any income coming in, I knew I couldn’t afford any expensive gym membership. If you can believe it, one of the last gyms I belonged to in Weymouth, Massachusetts, had a membership fee that was close to $100 a month!!! Thankfully, YMCA’s are not known for being that expensive, but even better, have been known to work with low income-based people on the monthly membership fee. So, I came prepared with my 2019 taxes and explained why I didn’t have any income. I was probably more forthcoming than most would have been in my shoes and talked about the long path of pain and suffering I’ve been on. A few days later I received a very warm and welcoming call from a woman named Chris who had my membership application in front of her.

We spoke at length about the struggles I’ve had and why I hadn’t been a part of any gym for a long time. She was truly kind and understanding to all my issues, which made me very thankful. At first, she attempted to see if qualified under any of their health programs, such as for those who have things like diabetes or cancer. Sadly, I didn’t qualify under any of them, but she told me not to lose hope and that she’d get back to me. Later that afternoon, I received another call from her with great news. They were able to do my membership for $15/month, something that was most definitely doable in my current circumstances of life! When the call ended, she let me know that my membership would be active that afternoon and I thanked her profusely for helping me so much. The real test came next though.

For someone like me, someone with chronic health issues that tend to be quite debilitating at times, the hard part is overcoming the ego and actually getting in the car to go to the gym. I’m grateful to report I successfully did that the very next day. After getting my membership card at the front desk and thanking Sue, a pretty amazing long-standing employee at this location who made me feel so very welcomed from the moment I met her, I locked my things up in a locker and headed into the Wellness center. There in front of me loomed all the equipment I hadn’t seen for so many years. I felt somewhat overwhelmed and maybe even a little nervous. I immediately headed over to the cardio machines and located the one piece of equipment I had last remembered using back in 2013, that being a Stairmaster.

A Stairmaster is really just a conveyor belt of stairs that rotate around at varying speeds. I used to really enjoy using this machine, mostly for the number of endorphins it created every time I utlizied it. So, I hopped on the machine hoping for the best, and quickly overcame the learning curve of how to use the 2020 version of it. Twenty-seven minutes later I had achieved something I never thought would be possible again. I had climbed 100 flights of stairs, the same amount I used to climb back in the day! I can’t even express how good I felt after that. I finished my workout that day with some light upper body strength-building and headed home in a pretty incredible mood. I’d return the next day, and another a few days after that, accomplishing three workouts in one week!

You have no idea how good it feels to be working out again. Even better, my body seems to be responding much better than I thought it would. I’m extremely grateful for this and am taking this as a sign that my health is improving. While I know this may seem like such a silly thing to be so grateful for, especially if happen to be someone without any major health issues, for a guy like me, who’s been on the physical exertion sidelines for so long now, achieving what I did in my first week at the YMCA is something most definitely to be grateful for.

So, thank you Jym, Sue, and Chris, for making this possible. And thank you God for allowing this as well. I truly do have an immense amount of gratitude now for all of you on this Grateful Heart Monday.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson