Observations of a Planet Fitness Regular

We started going to a Planet Fitness gym about 6 months ago. We make it 4-6 days a week, early in the morning before I head to work. Most of the people there at the same time as us tend to be older people – like us. We’ve witnessed enough younger people though that I’ve noticed a stark difference between old and young at the gym.

Some definition is likely in order first. What do I mean by ‘older’ and ‘younger’? Here’s my qualification list, devoid of any rigorous or even mildly scientific thought or study:

You are probably an ‘old’ person, for the purpose of my observations, if several of these are true for you:

  • You are middle-aged or older
  • You are not attending school
  • You are married
  • You have a career, not just a job
  • You have kids
  • You have significant responsibilities at home, church, or with community organizations
  • You are in bed by 10 most nights…or 9…or 8…
  • You are up by 5 or 6 every morning, whether you want to or not, and without regard to how late you stayed up the night before
  • You struggle to carve out time to go to the gym

In contrast, you qualify as a ‘young’ person, again for my purposes here alone, if several of these are true:

  • You are in your teens or twenties
  • You are in school – high school or college – or were recently
  • You are single
  • You still haven’t figured out what you want to “do” in life
  • You don’t have kids – or if you do, you had them very young and have generous family who will watch them for long stretches of time
  • You have little responsibility for anything other than yourself
  • You either have a very irregular bedtime or you often stay out late
  • You’d sleep til noon if left to your own devices
  • You may claim to be busy but a trip to the gym is usually a multi-hour affair

Now I know that many people may say yes to multiple things in both lists, so just go with wherever the preponderance of evidence puts you. Or just read without putting yourself in a category first. This isn’t terribly important.

When old people go to the gym, we mean business. We’ve got a limited amount of time and are doing this for the sole reason of exercising our bodies. Or, if we are really old, maybe we’ve got plenty of time on our hands but the gym is a task that needs doing and there’s no point in dilly-dallying while at it.

We show up. We exercise. We go home.

If we go with a buddy, it’s to be held accountable in getting there and working hard. Conversation between buddies only really happens if it can be done while both are working hard. If we see someone we know, we wave and nod. At most, we say, “Good morning! How are you?” and respond equally briefly. There’s work to be done. We don’t need the delay and we certainly don’t want to be an annoyance to the other person and disrupt their schedule.

Some of us have earbuds or giant headphones on while we work out – more on the cardio machines than while moving through the weights, but many of us just accept the music playing over the loudspeakers. And we don’t spend much time fussing with it.

Young people, on the other hand, seem to treat the gym as a social event. Moving between weight machines with a buddy doesn’t involve each on a machine and then trading. No, it means one doing the machine while the other stands and talks. In the room with open spaces for mats, it means sitting side-by-side on the mats scrolling through phones and chatting for so long that the old person on the abs machine nearby starts to wonder why they are there.

If a young person is exercising alone (a rare sight, but it does happen), they will without doubt have earbuds in. Even the ones with friends likely do. But if alone, they will lift a few weights, spend a long period of time on their phone, do a few more reps, then more time on the phone. I’m not sure if that’s about changing the song or checking social media or just what. But it’s entirely too lackadaisical for me.

I think this is why my daughter can spend an hour and a half at the gym and barely break a sweat while I can soak through my clothes in just over a third of that time.

Speaking of clothes, old people are practical. Old T-shirts and shorts will suffice. Some will jazz it up but the clothes are still well suited for the task at hand. Really old people make some odd choices, wearing whatever is in their wardrobe, regardless of whether it could be construed as workout clothes or not (I’ve seen them in slacks before).

Young people, on the other hand, have a focus on looking good. Sometimes the outfits make sense, sometimes they don’t; but they always look good.

This post is another recovery from my drafts folder, by the way. It’s about a year old. It’s worth noting that while we still go to the gym, it’s not 4-6 days a week. It’s still early in the morning though.

And if you notice a drop in quality around the time I shifted from talking about the old people to talking about the young, that’s because the last sentence in the draft was “And we don’t spend much time fussing with it.” I think I was on a roll and really feeling it when I was first writing this. I obviously got interrupted because when I’ve got something that good going, I won’t usually stop. I’m not feeling as strongly about young people in the gym as I was back then so it’s a little hard for me to give the young people portion of the post as much pizzazz as it deserves.

And please don’t take anything in here very seriously. I know I’m indulging in stereotypes that probably wouldn’t hold up in any sort of rigorous study. But I think they are mostly harmless and hopefully at least a little bit funny. At least, I enjoyed rediscovering it enough to think it was worth sharing.

Date Planner

This draft was sitting in my draft folder (with hundreds of others, to be honest). The date was June 1st of last year. I was obviously getting something off my chest and/or trying to just capture the details because all 150+ words were crammed together in one paragraph. I had forgotten all about the details of this particular Saturday morning but boy did it all come rushing back as I read it! That’s not always the case when I look back at drafts; for example, no clue what the one around the same time period that only said “football pract” was going to be about (other than, well, football practice). At any rate, here we go, with better formatting and a little more detail…


Teenage boys are.

I mean.

I can’t even.

He tells us that he and his girlfriend want to go on a date. He tells us that several days ago. No problem so far.

Last night, he said she couldn’t do lunch or dinner so it would be breakfast today. But as of midnight, he couldn’t tell us what time or where and seemed wholly unconcerned as to whether his desire for a ride would negatively impact any plans of any of the drivers in the house. He was even put out that I interrupted his PS4 game to ask questions.

His grand plan was to wake up early (after staying up late), even though he knows he sleeps through his alarm, and see what her response was. When I woke him up at 8:45, wondering what his definition of “early” was or exactly how late he though breakfast could start, he checked his phone and saw she had suggested 8:30. Oops. Wonder what she was thinking as she sat there waiting for a reply.

Now the plan is 9:30 and he just got out of the shower. He actually wanted me to drop him off at 9:30, come home, then drive back into town, and pick him up at 10:15. I mean, seriously.

First, this date is only 45 minutes long? You guys like each other that much?

Second, it takes 15 minutes to drive home and another 15 to drive back in. That leaves me 15 minutes to do…what exactly? And it puts me spending an hour on the road to support this 45 minute date. I don’t think so!

I told him I wasn’t going to do that so they made plans to extend the date to a more reasonable duration. I don’t recall now, months later, what they added to the plan or even whether I was both the dropper-off and picker-up or whether my husband took one leg of the obligation.

I just remember being amazed that he 1) was so cavalier about coordinating the event and 2) unconcerned about his impact on whoever had to drive him. He and his girlfriend didn’t contact each other much over the summer and parted ways just before school started back. I think she did the breaking up because she had changed schools and they weren’t likely to see each other much.

He seemed to be ok with that because he really didn’t have time for a girlfriend (his words). He wanted to focus on football and hanging out with his friends and playing video games. Fast forward six months… I’ve heard rumor of a girl he’s interested in but his life has mostly revolved around those things he mentioned back then. Main difference now is that he’s driving. So if he botches a date again, it doesn’t affect me.

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

It sucks getting old. Now everyone reading this who knows they are older than me are rolling their eyes and telling me I’m not old. But age is relative, right? I mean, I used to think people in their fifties were old and then my mom turned 50 and old people suddenly became in their sixties. And then the sixties no longer seemed old but seventies clearly were. Then I found out some of my favorite people at church were comfortably in their seventies and then my mom turned 70 and so now I guess you have to be in your eighties before you are old. To those of you in your eighties, I’m sorry. I do still think of you as old, but give me some time. I’ll come around.

And, yeah, clearly all of those people are older than someone moving into the late half of their forties and they probably are all having more age-related challenges than I am. But that doesn’t mean I’m not having any. I got together with some high school friends recently and when we found ourselves talking about our various maladies, we all remarked that it was an indicator of our advancing age.

There’s all sorts of signs: slow recovery time, reduced vision, thin skin, wrinkles, crackling joints, gray hairs, hairs on my chin. But the worst, by far, are my problems with sleep.

Back in the day, I slept on my stomach. I can still almost feel how wonderful that was, stretched out with my arms up around my head, bunching my pillow up around my face. Mmmmm… How I wish that still worked for me.

Pregnancy ruined that part of it. You can ask my husband, but I tried to keep sleeping on my stomach for a ridiculously long time. I piled pillows on the bed, making a big doughnut where my abdomen would go. I’d climb carefully on top and lower my belly into the doughnut. Of course, I needed pillows as tall as the doughnut from there to my head as well. It never worked for an entire night, but I sure tried for several of them.

Eventually I learned to sleep on my side, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Only, a few years ago, it became virtually a requirement that that side be my left side. My daughter and I got matching cartilage piercings in our right ears. Hers healed up in no time. Mine bothers me still. It’s got a weird overgrowth on the back and flairs up every once in a while. I’m too stubborn to give up on it, but it’s trained me to not try to sleep on that side.

So, there I’ve been, medicated and sleeping on my left side, which incidentally puts my back to my husband, when I start waking up in the night with numb fingers, hands, sometimes whole arms. For a while, I just shook the numb limb out and then tried to re-position myself. Eventually, I noticed it wasn’t always the arm I was laying on.

That’s when the side pillow got added. I’d lay down on my left side, rest my right arm on the pillow in front of me, and position my left arm carefully on the bed above that pillow and only slightly under my head pillow. Too far under the head pillow and the pressure from my head would numb that arm.

It didn’t eliminate the problem but did seem to reduce the frequency of occurrence. When I finally brought it up to my doctor, she said I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I should wear braces on my wrists at night. I found some cool ones at Walgreen’s that are well-padded and have these little bean bag-like things that the palm of your hand rests on. They go up your hand quite a ways, discouraging you from clenching your fist at night.

Then the weighted blanket craze hit and I thought it might help me out so I added it to the mix. Now bedtime involved crawling under the weighted blanket, nestling a pillow in front of me, donning the wrist braces, and then, with limited use of my fingers, drawing the heavy blanket up to my chin, and carefully positioning my arms ~just so~.

It became too much. One day, I defiantly decided not to wear the wrist braces. I had come to hate them. One night every once in a while wouldn’t hurt. I crawled into bed like some kid that thinks they are getting away with stealing cookies from the cookie jar.

I woke up in the night with a numb forefinger. I massaged it and went back to sleep. I later woke up and more of my right hand was numb. I shook it out and admonished myself for not wearing the braces.

When I woke up the next morning, the hand was still tingling. I shook it some but basically tried to ignore it. It’d pass, I thought. Only, it didn’t.

I think it took almost a week before I stopped having trouble with my right hand, particularly the index finger. The first day after the sans-braces joy ride, my finger spent more time numb than not.

I learned my lesson. I simply can’t skip the braces. They are my new reality. That’s just the way it is. Now the weighted blanket? I soon decided that was more hassle than it was worth. But I am thinking of getting a second side pillow, or maybe one longer body pillow. I think having one between my legs would help prevent the occasional lower back pain. Did I mention I’m starting to feel old?

Nipple Ring

It had been a long day, as so many of them seem to be. I had happily crawled into bed at the end of it and snuggled into my pillows. Sleep was going well but I can only assume I was too close to a sleep stage transition when my husband suddenly asked, “Hello?”

My back was to him so I rolled just enough to look over my shoulder. I saw him pulling the phone from his face so I glanced at the screen: Daryl. He pulled the phone back to his ear, repeated his question, then looked at the screen again. The call had just ended.

“What’s going on?” I asked. Silly question since he obviously had gotten no answer, but it was two in the morning and I don’t function well at that hour.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything.”

“Is he home?”

“I don’t know but I’m going to go check now.”

Daryl had spent the evening watching the NBA All-Star basketball game over at his sister’s place. He wasn’t home by the time we went to bed. I started to wonder if he had fallen asleep there. Or had he been in a wreck on his way home?

My husband returned from his sojourn down the hall and told me that he was home and asleep in his bed. He shrugged it off and went back to sleep. I, as I am prone to do after such events, lay awake for hours waiting for sleep to reclaim me.

My alarm woke me soon after I fell back asleep. I dutifully got up and we went to the gym. The boys didn’t have school that day so we were letting them sleep. As I prepared to leave for work, I paused at Daryl’s door. I don’t know if it was honest curiosity or a desire to pay him back, but I went inside.

“Daryl,” I said, shaking him gently. “I’m going to work, honey. Where’s your phone?”

He had just been groggily stretching until I asked him about the phone. He pushed his torso up off the bed and looked around confused. As he stretched up higher and looked down, I saw it. His phone was face-up under his bare chest.

“That’s it! Daryl! You nipple-dialed your dad in the middle of the night! It woke both of us up! It took me hours to go back to sleep.”

He didn’t respond.

“The least you could do is say Sorrrryyy Mooooomm.” I said the “sorry mom” in an exaggerated put-out-teenager voice. He repeated the words in exactly the same tone. Maybe my version wasn’t so exaggerated after all.

“Thank you,” I said, picking up the phone, now at 11% battery because it had spent the night under his chest instead of on his charger. As I plugged it in for him, I confirmed what time he needed to be at Destination Imagination practice. And then I told his dad to make sure he was awake when the time came.

Because, you see, it’s always mom’s job to take care of the kids. Even if the kids wreck her sleep. You take care of them. And then you take care of yourself by increasing your caffeine intake for the day. And then you cross your fingers and say a little prayer before trying again for a good night’s sleep at the next opportunity.

Underwear Where?

It was time for Hal to get ready for school. I woke him up a few minutes later than normal and told him to get moving. Then I took care of a few things in the kitchen and returned to his room. Opening the door, I saw him still in his bed, petting the dog.

“Hal, you really need to get up and take your shower!”

“Okaay!” he said as he climbed past the dog.

I then brushed my teeth and gathered my clothes to prepare for my own shower. He still hadn’t left his room. This time when I opened his door, he was standing on the edge of his bed, leaning over the rail of the top bunk.

“Hal! Come on!”

“I am!!”

“No you are not. The shower is not on the top bunk! What are you doing?”

“I’m getting some underwear!”

Do what? I watched as he slowly moved the foot of a very large stuffed dog and picked up a pair of clean underwear. I glanced over at his dresser and back to the bed.

“Do you mean to say you are putting your laundry up there on the top bunk instead of in your drawers?”



I can’t even. Now I know why the hamper has been returned so promptly to the laundry room every weekend. I thought he was just throwing the clothes into the drawers without folding them. I hoped he at least sorted them into the right drawers, but I was guessing he just tossed them all mish-mashed into the most empty one. But, no. He can’t even be bothered with that. He’s literally just lifting the hamper over his head and dumping them onto the top bunk. Oh, and positioning the stuffed animal to hide the evidence. Wow.

Need Date

Emails can sometimes be comically misinterpreted, and I have a very fun example to share today. First, some background.

My company has a tool that tracks “issues” – be they defects, change requests, new requirements, whatever. Back in December, someone created a whole bunch of issues, one for nearly every software product we had, requiring the software products to pull in the new O/S version.

The issues were given a Need Date of 1/31/2020, meaning that’s when they wanted us to have completed incorporating the new O/S, and then immediately set to a state of ON HOLD, because the O/S wasn’t ready yet.

Fast forward to this week, the beginning of February. The issues were returned to the OPEN state right as my software development team began to plan our work for the next two week period (referred to as a “sprint”). I assumed they would probably want it done in the next two weeks, but wanted to make sure, so I asked the following in an email:

Can we get updated Need Dates?

They are currently set to 1/31, which isn’t very realistic… 🙂

My team pulled this into the current sprint on the assumption that you would want them within the next two weeks, but we don’t actually know the necessary schedule.

About ten minutes later, I got the first response, which was stunning:

We are expected to deliver the system in March…so in order to have time to ensure things boot prior to that I wouldn’t recommend us moving the date out. If your organization can’t make it then we’ll have to work that with the program office.

Do what?! I was flummoxed. My email was short. It said the date was unrealistic and included a tell-tale smiley. Didn’t that give her enough pause to realize the problem with the date? I decided it was worth a bit of a troll in response:

Ok, I can tell you unequivocally that our organization can’t make a date that is 5 days in the past. I’m asking you to give us a Need Date that is >= the day the issue was moved from ON HOLD to OPEN.

She was good-humored and self-deprecating in her response, but there was just one problem in her explanation:

Lol I thought it said 2/31. Too many windows open.

Yep. February 31st. Lol, indeed!

I teased her privately about mistaking the date in the past for a date that doesn’t exist, but I was still looking for a real Need Date. She had passed on the responsibility for a new date to her boss, who asked me this:

You want all 199 need dates updated?

Now, I really only cared about 5 of them, the ones belonging to my team, but it was reasonable to assume that most everyone would want to know when we were expected to be done. Which, you notice, he was still not telling me, choosing instead to express incredulity at the thought of updating the date in the tool for that many issues. So I tried again:

I think there’s a tool to do mass updates on issues so I wouldn’t expect that to be burdensome, but I would settle for an email telling us when you want them done.

I probably should have just said an email would suffice, but I’m pretty sure the mass-data-entry tool was written specifically for this team and I was annoyed that I wasn’t getting an answer. Maybe he left for the day in the 20 minutes between sending his email and me sending mine, but it’s worth noting that I have not gotten a response.

Does that mean we get to pick our own? I’m gunning for 2/31. 🙂

One Minute and Counting

Jane needed to use the bathroom. But there was a slight problem.

She was at Destination Imagination practice.

Why was this a problem?

Jane is a Freshman in college. For the second year in a row, she is coaching a young DI team. The kids are now fifth and sixth graders and are very rambunctious. She has trouble getting them to focus, and if she lets them go to the bathroom, they take a long time and are gone long enough for her to believe they are playing.

So whenever they ask to use the bathroom, she gives them a tight time limit.

She looked down at her phone. They were getting ready to run through an Improv skit. The timer on the phone was set to five minutes. I don’t think I can wait five minutes, she thought. There was no choice.

“Guys, sit tight for a few minutes. I need to use the bathroom,” she said, getting up.

“You’ve got one minute!” the kids announced with joy.

As she raced down the hall, she heard them counting: “Sixty! Fifty nine! Fifty eight! Fifty seven!…”

She tried to hurry, but sometimes a trip to the bathroom simply can’t be a quick affair. While she sat uncomfortably in the stall, the girls poked their heads into the bathroom.

“Your time is up! Come on! Let’s go!” they called out laughing.

“I’ll be out in a minute! Just go wait in the room.”

The girls giggled as they walked away.

When she returned to the room herself, one of the boys looked up. “You went poop, didn’t you?”

“I’m sick!” she tried. The kids weren’t buying it. They were enjoying every minute of her embarrassment and the turning of the tables.

She has a special bond with these kids. She doesn’t have all of the experienced kid-handling skills of the teachers and parents who manage the other teams. She’s sometimes rough and has trouble being patient.

And she’s got a lot going on. It’s her first year in college and it’s been a very difficult adjustment for her. She’s dealing with some personal challenges while learning to live in an apartment with a roommate, making her own decisions, and setting her own schedule. She lives in the adjacent town and travels about twenty minutes to get to practice.

But these kids love her and she loves them. I think they appreciate her “cool” young adult persona. I’m proud of her for agreeing to coach them with all the unknowns she has this year. I think it helps keep her grounded and gives her some responsibility for something beyond herself.

And it’s just flat-out humbling to have a kid knowingly state the condition of your bowels. In front of other laughing kids.