The rowing machine at the gymnasty gives me a bird's eye view of everyone's figure flaws.
There is an elliptical machine that sits in front of me, and when I look up I see all manner of shapes and sizes.
Like the unfortunate girl with the tiny little torso and the huge bottom. She could come on Hallowe'en dressed as a deformed apple.
Or the skinny fellow who looks like he's swallowed a giant marshmallow which has lodged in his midriff.
Or even the perfectly coiffed, pony-tail sporting Lou Lou Liz Lemon whose buttocks looks like a loaf of unbaked bread.
God love 'em. As Freddie Mercury once crooned: "Big bottomed girls, they make the world go round."
No one should be afraid to go to the gym. There is always someone who is worse off.
I see one guy every day -- he looks like a Carleton philosophy professor -- whose leg looks like it's been mangled by a rabid dog.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a little person who stood only two feet tall all dressed for success headed for the yoga gravity tent.
And then there was the guy who must have been five hundred pounds who could only do an upper body workout -- but he was still there, doing his best.
I was struck last week by a young man who came in with a pretty serious cast on his foot. He looked like an injured basketball player, and he wandered around the gym for a good half hour before he settled on an upper body spinning contraption. I felt bad for the guy.
In the pool area, there is a cross section of humanity and camel toe, one roll, three rolls, four rolls you get eggrolls. Then there are the Muslim women who enter the pool fully dressed.
It's all good.
Whenever I go to the gymnasty, I feel lucky to be alive. Lucky to be healthy enough to spend an hour working out on pretty serious machinery. At 55, thanks to the gym, I'm healthier than I was at age 35.
And I'm inspired.
Inspired by the 80 year olds who are there everyday: Jean in her fuschia leotard; Joe in his pastel polyester work out pants.
And I'm even more inspired by all the people who have the courage to come to the gym with less than perfect bodies, with less than perfect health.
Like the commercial says: it's a good life; open up your eyes.