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Baby Boomers, Gyms, And Church: Beware Of Hazards

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Raise your hand it you attend church services on Christmas and Easter.

Keep it up if you’ve ever been described as a Chreaster Christian.

As Boomers age, and feel the gaze of their children and grandchildren upon them, they start making more of an effort on Sunday.

Some might see the newly churched in the same light as the newly gym-ed, or those who buy a gym membership for Christmas, go twice in January, then forget about it.

The church and gym have more in common than it looks.

To begin with, it’s never too late. Or is it? Start with the hazards of each.

  • The Gym

If you received a membership, you probably unwrapped some new gym clothes. Matching warm-ups over matching shirt and shorts with matching shoes? That’s a good start.

You don’t want to show up in cut-offs and a dingy t-shirt with your knee socks pulled all the way up. The shoes replace the ones you saved when the ‘jogging craze’ ended for you in the early ’80’s.

Check in your first day. Once you get in the front door, notice the smell. It’s not the funk you get from an ancient weight room. You won’t find the Rocky gym, or the Million Dollar Baby gym.

The gym is the new cathedral to fitness.

The mirrors are a surprise, too. Is it a dance studio or a sweat shop? Now see yourself in the mirror sporting your new gear. You already look in better shape.

Try and ignore the men with huge arms and shoulders all tattooed up above shockingly thin legs. Avoid making jokes like, “You should sue your legs for non-support.” Or, “How does this happen, by learning to walk on your hands?”

It’s taken a lot less to start a ‘roid rage with strangers. Skinny man legs are an off limits topic around superbly muscled upper-body guys. If you wouldn’t mention toilet paper on the shoe of a man wearing a tux, ignore those legs.

Once you hear the sort of sounds associated with feeding time at the zoo, and you soil your new sports suit by sitting in a puddle of sweat on the first machine you use, the gym thrill fades.

You like the idea of exercise, but the reality is too messy. You decide to workout at home, or at least wear your new warm-ups. And you feel good about it.

  • The Church

You haven’t been in a while, like just after you won a red Bible for not missing Sunday school for a year in sixth grade? A few things have changed.

Expressing your faith doesn’t mean wearing special clothes, but there’s nothing wrong with breaking out the ‘Sunday Best.’

Other people will be there in jeans and a t-shirt, but not you. Go ahead and strap on a jacket and tie.

Before things get started, you may see the fixings for a rock and roll band on stage. This doesn’t mean stand up and get your boogaloo on when the music starts. This isn’t a Three Dog Night concert.

Live music appeals to the younger crowd. If someone near you stands and sways with one hand raised, it’s not a high-five moment. Keep your seat.

Listen carefully during the sermon. Depending on the church, the minister may ask those seeking salvation to stand. If the person in front of you collapses to the floor and starts rolling and mumbling, keep you seat. It’s not a first-aid moment.

Once you stand, everyone in the church expects something more than your health-related excuse for the person in front of you. Besides, they’ve made a good recovery and are back in their seat.

You may be on your way to the baptismal if you stand, and you aren’t sure what that means.

To keep things on the up side, make a Catholic service part of your investigation. Everyone there knows the drill. It’s been happening for a thousand years and more. Catholics call theirs ‘The Church’ for good reason. It’s not a mega-church, super-church, or anything but The Church.

If you’re a non-Catholic, but love the Gothic churches in Europe, you’ll be a little disappointed if you expect the same here. You’re living in the New World, the same one early explorers sacked for the loot needed to build centers of worship.

But that’s ancient history, or at least old enough for any medieval statute of limitations to expire.

For first time visitors to The Church: watch your step heading into the pews. There’s a kneeling board that folds up against the pew in front. If it’s down and you don’t notice, you’ll catch a foot and fly head first onto the hard seats. Do that and the two older ladies behind you try and stifle their giggles, but never can. It’s how they tell the old faithful from the new.

This year try something new whether gym, church, or both. Give it enough time to avoid the usual pitfalls.

About David Gillaspie
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