On Becoming a ‘Non-Senior, Senior’
Yup, you heard right! I betcha that you didn’t know that there was such a category in life, did you? A ‘non-senior, senior’. Well, there is….and for one whole decade, I have held this riveting title of which I have actually become quite proud. I even have a specially coloured membership card, number and all, to prove it. By the time I actually reach the official title of a senior, I figure that I should be entitled to some type of honorary status or something, thereby reaping extra rewards/credits for all of my ‘non-senior, senior’ years prior. So, what exactly does it mean and how did this all come to be, you might be asking yourself? Well, naturally, I am here to explain all of that. And then, maybe you will consider joining my elite lot in life. Maybe. Who knows, together as ‘non-senior, seniors’ we might even be able to campaign for free lifetime memberships. “Wouldn’t that be something?!”
“Yes,” but only if one knows why.
Ten years ago, in addition to being much younger and many other things, I was looking for a place to workout, but traditional gyms did NOT appeal to me for many reasons: Too busy, buff bodies (mine not being one of them), fighting over equipment, loud music, expensive memberships–no way, José, not for me. The trouble was that I grew tired of my own routine and lack of choice of machines at home, and I wanted to try something new. I had already joined a yoga class, a practice I still do once weekly; however, I needed to add some other physical activity to my narrow repertoire. ‘Hmmm….what else could I do? Where else could I go?’ I really wanted to have access to weights and possibly a trainer, though the latter wasn’t as important. Little did I know that a conversation with my mom (a legitimate senior, senior) would lead me in the right direction.
She had been a member of the local Senior’s Centre for a few years, enjoying a weekly fitness class and some line dancing lessons. It just so happened that as part of a recent class, the instructor had taken her group to the Centre’s gym to use some of the equipment. She explained how nice the gym was, how few people were there and thought that it might be perfect for me. Now, I will admit that I thought that she was a little ‘off her rocker’ so to speak (pun intended), at the mention of me joining the neighbourhood Senior Centre. ‘Ummm, how would I get in and moreso than that, would I want to, even if they let me?’ But the fact of the matter is that she did have some valid points, and the idea that it was practically brand new and quiet appealed to me. And so, before I knew it, I found myself standing at the desk of the Centre inquiring about their programs/gym. After half-heartedly listening to the silver-haired volunteer, the fitness instructor who taught my mom’s class was summoned over. Therein, I learned that I could, in fact, join if I desired, as they had such a thing as a ‘non-senior’ membership card. ‘Hmmmm…did I really want to enrol? I mean, what will others think? What will the seniors think? Is this normal?’ Needless to say, a litany of thoughts entered my mind. Kindly, and likely sensing my apprehension, the instructor offered to let me come for a free session to check it out for myself. And so, right then and there, I decided, ‘Hey, why not?’ Shortly after my suprisingly pleasant ‘freebie’ session, I was handing over my ID, signing waivers (which seemed kind of comical) and purchasing my specially coloured ‘non-senior’ card. ‘Well, here we go,’ I thought. ‘This ought to be interesting.’
I officially began attending the Centre during my time-off in the summer, which gave me the freedom to go in the morning or in the afternoon. When I first set foot in the gym, sporting my hip, new outfit and squeaky running shoes, I was certainly garnering a lot of attention from the regular-goers. ‘Oh boy!’ I am not one who enjoys being the centre of attention, but I knew ahead of time that it was a good possibility. Indeed, I found myself to be the object of many long stares, as the others clearly wondered what the heck I was doing there. I was beginning to wonder the same. At once, I could relate to the feelings one must have as a minority group in society, as I was most definitely an anomaly amongst the usual attendees. Enlightening, for sure but to put it all in perspective, I was simply walking on a treadmill at a gym. I certainly wasn’t Rosa Parks paving the way for African-Americans to have equal rights riding public transportation. Just the same, I quickly learned to get used to the idea that I was undoubtedly different and that I would slowly need to settle my way into the questioning crowd. Through their looks and actions, I could feel their concern that us young chaps might suddenly be trying to take over their facility. I am not sure that they realized that 20 and 30 year-olds were likely not clamouring over each other to bust down the Senior’s door to workout at their gym, but I did understand their protective need. They felt they earned it and some felt that they were owed it in a sense. Who was I, as an outsider, to judge or argue? Afterall, I was on their turf, but I also paid my literal dues and was invited to be there, so I wasn’t about to back down.
Soon enough though, after fielding a few burning questions, I was greeted with a few smiles and even some small talk. And before long, I knew a few names even. Of course, my own name became well-known right off the hop. They might have even sent out a memorandum alerting everyone to my presence for all I know. Yet, once my fellow senior acquaintances concluded that I was not there to initiate ‘a non-senior’ take-over, I dare say that I was somewhat welcomed. While it took me awhile to get used to my newly acquired gym status and title in life, I really liked that I could be in and out within an hour, feeling more and more fit and successful with each passing session. In the end, had I achieved what I wanted in finding a new exercise regime? Yes. Did I have some explaining to do to others? Yes, and not only to my newly found 55+ friends, but also to my co-workers who razzed me relentlessly once our roundtable, return-to-work, say something about your summer vacation, session unfolded. Now, I could have avoided the mention of it altogether, but I could not resist seeing/hearing their reactions. While I still get teased over it to this day, it was completely worth it when I announced at the staffroom table that I had joined the Senior Citizen’s Centre. The looks that I got from my colleagues were entertaining to say the least, but I had just had a lot of practice throughout the summer, either darting or facing many a look, so I was more than well-prepared for the outburst that ensued. Many tumbled into laughter, some stared blankly and others thought I was just plain old crazy, all of which I silently loved.
And so, from that first summer on, a whole decade ago, I became known as the infamous ‘non-senior, senior’–a tag name that I now happen to love! I have even managed to recruit another ‘non-senior, senior’ friend to partake in the Senior’s gym with me. In addition to taking my weekly yoga session there with a wonderful, well-educated teacher, I have even been known to take in some of their homemade dinner nights, along with my family. When I call to save us a spot in the diningroom, they readily know and record my name…maybe the memo is still up on the wall somewhere?! Nonetheless, I have become a tried and true ‘non-senior, senior’ happily living a double life of non-senior’ness’ and senior’ness’ alongside the other. If, through this post, I have managed to somehow entice you to also join in the fun, then just drop me a line and I will be sure to name-drop, so that you, too, can get your own specially coloured membership card, number and all. Guaranteed.