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You Don’t Join For A Gym Memorial But They Come With Admission.

Jack LaLanne and friends via keeping the edge.

Jack LaLanne and friends via keeping the edge.

The first thing you notice in a new gym is the pecking order.

Strong guys group together.

Old guys over there.

Young men pumping out the reps.

Ladies all over the place on every piece of equipment.

Women have the gym all figured out. Guys not so much.

Over time a few things happen you’d never expect.

People stop showing up.

The older man who kept to himself and did the same thing every day?

He quit, or so it seemed.

Then you saw his picture in the paper…in the obituaries.

He looked like he had a good twenty years left in him until a logging accident.

If there’s ever a place for a logging accident it’s Oregon.

He becomes a reference point for getting in shape and staying alive.

Gym memorial for Frank.

People who like people get together. That was Tony and Frank.

These two first wave boomers started early and lifted heavy.

They complained about their injuries and worked through them.

Frank had a bad condition he didn’t talk about. One day he wasn’t there.

A day turned into a week, then a month.

Turns out his condition took a turn for the worse and he died, but because his phone battery died at the same time his wife didn’t know who to call.

After a month Tony got a call and reported in. Frank wouldn’t be back.

When you see guys day after day they leave an impression. It’s not the same without them.

I thought of the logger and Frank one day and realized there were three guys who stopped showing up.

Gym memorial or new gym?

All three came in on the same day.

One had been surfing in San Diego and working on his marriage.

Another had been to Morocco and got sick.

The last stopped and pulled the neck of his t-shirt to show off a new scar.

Quadruple bypass scar.

They all looked the same.

The surfer had a better tan and longer hair.

Morocco had the tan and a few extra pounds.

The bypass was exactly the same.

“How did you know you had a problem?” I asked him.

“Shortness of breath with little exertion. That’s the key. If you can’t do what you ordinarily do, something’s wrong and you need to find out.”

“How long did it take to get checked out?”

“I went in and never came out until it was over. Clogged arteries. Hereditary. Don’t smoke, not overweight, eat well, exercise, but you can’t beat heredity.”

“Family history?”

“The men all die young. I’ve got a good twenty years ahead of me.”

“Remember the really fit guy who used the cables too long? He had at least twenty years.”

“Yeah, I remember him. What happened?”

“Got a tree dropped on him. Logging accident. Don’t do that.”

“I use the woods to hunt, not cut.”

“Good. Remember Frank? Tony’s buddy?”

“No, not really. Where is he?”

“He died a few years ago. Navy guy, a quiet talker.”

“Like you could hardly hear him? I remember that guy.”

“He died, his phone died, and no one knew what happened.”

“I hate it when that happens.”

“We ought to have a gym line for others to call and leave messages. It’s too easy to get lost.”

“I’m not lost.”

“If you died you’d be lost to everyone you know here.”

“Same if I joined another gym.”

“Yep, same thing. The big gym in the sky.”

“See those two guys over there? They’ve been out as long as you. I thought you’d all died.”

“And you’re wrong. Where were they?”

“Not in the hospital getting their heart re-plumbed.”

“Vacation probably. Mine wasn’t a vacation.”

“Any advice to pass along?”

“Sure. I was fine. Just had a check up before going to Europe. Blood work and everything came back good. Clogged arteries didn’t show up. I was lucky to get a second chance. It was one of those deals where I’d take a nap and never wake up. That’s what it felt like.”

“How can you get a good picture of your heart health?”

“Do you have chest pain?”

“I do after talking to you. If you’d sprained your ankle, I’d have ankle pain.”

“Shortness of breath?”

“At some point at the gym I always have shortness of breath. Especially after I’ve stood on the bike pedals for thirty reps.”


“I’m sweating now.”

“Nausea or vomiting?”

“Just hearing those words make me queasy.”

“I got the test where you get dye injected and they follow it through your heart. Mine was pretty slow going. They knew I was plugged up, but not how far along. Turns out some where nearly shut down.”

“Not anymore.”

“I’m on the comeback.”

“And I’m glad you’re back.”

“Did you miss me?”

“I did. Yes I did. And I’m not ashamed to say it. I like my guys in the gym with me. Like today.”

“Did you get a better workout?”

“I will tomorrow. It’ll be a gym memorial, a comeback sweat, a reunion workout.”

“What’ll you do differently?”

“An extra rep.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s enough.”






About David Gillaspie
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