I still have a membership to the gym that started me on my journey. I’ve had that membership since 1999. I am not a frequent visitor there but I do drop in on occasion. I do it when I get in a rut and a change of scenery will help me break out of my workout funk.  I also consider it to be a good place to do a little market research.

The Dedicated Few
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image by Greg Westfall

I see a lot of things on those visits but what stands out to me, and always has, is the Dedicated Few.

I am sure you have to the Dedicated Few at your gym. They are the ones who are there no matter what.  No matter the season, they are there waiting for spin class to start. No matter what the weather they are on the elliptical trainer working up a sweat. No matter the holiday, they are still present and pumping iron (perhaps in anticipation of the feasts and festivities to come).

These are the men and women who were my inspiration in the beginning when the habit of exercise was still taking hold. It was like being part of an unspoken club. Every day after work the “grunting lady” would be there, squatting weights I hoped to someday to achieve. Or I would be amused and impressed by the efforts of the overly tanned  gentleman with the Tom Selleck mustache lifting weights in his flip flops. Every Sunday there was a woman and her teenage daughter, enjoying a workout and a laugh together.  (Today she is still there on Sundays although her daughter, grown up and perhaps on her own, no longer joins her.)

As time passed and I started going to the gym early in the morning instead of after night classes, I saw new yet equally dedicated faces. Perhaps more so to be at the gym at 6 am on a regular basis.  Exercise was now a vital part of life for me, much like breathing, but I still enjoyed seeing the same faces day in and day out. I imagined still a silent camaraderie with my fellow early risers. There was the guy too shy to actually talk to me who would wave and help me re-rack weights on occasion. (Sorry shy guy, taken already). The two ladies, who I imagine have been best friends for years (based on the story I created in my head) who were both struggling to get out that first pull up, practicing and practicing. And then the sister in iron with the perfectly cut arms who surely must be a fitness competitor. Her dedication puts mine to shame.

Gyms count on people coming and going. If everyone who bought a membership to any given commercial gym decided to shop up for a workout at once, the gym would be in serious trouble. They count on the newness and dedication wearing off while those monthly dues keep coming in.

What they may not count on and truly appreciate are those Dedicated Few.  They are the members who inspire newbies and help show them the ropes.  They are the ones who keep gyms on their toes, asking for new equipment and complaining when things wear out or break.  They serve almost as walking billboards for what exercise can do if you are willing to work hard and stay focused on your goals.

I owe a lot to those Dedicated Few.

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