Friday, January 14, 2011

A Little Departure


A little departure.  Five years ago this week, Harlan walked into the upstate New York fitness center where I worked.  You will read herein how he still considers himself “stiff as a brick.”  Not so much. 

When we started working together, he was very inflexible, and had significant postural imbalances.  Harlan was able to do only 4 or 5 exercises, mostly stretching, during a workout session.  Truly all his body was able to handle at age 67.  He could barely put on his socks, even while sitting down.  He could not kick himself in the fanny, so tight were his quadriceps.

Harlan and I worked together for 3 ½ years to change all that.  As fitness changed his life, his spirit changed mine in a profound and wonderful way.  Reverend Harlan is one of the most irreverent clergy members you will ever meet, and is blessed with wit, vigor, humor, kindness, and poetry in great measure.  Ask him to quote Hafiz.  And you should see his garden!  Pastoral!  Anyway, his posture, balance, flexibility, grace, height, strength… all improved.  Wish I had the before and after pics here for you, oh well. One-hour-metabolic-circuit-training-muscle-burning-core-bracing workouts have been routine for Harlan for a couple of years now.  He’s unstoppable.

All of my clients honor me with their trust and friendship.  Thank you all for your commitment, faith, and great efforts.


They come in the morning, grumpy and grim
But at least they are fit, at least they are trim.
Some come here later, even after noon,
And believe it or not, some enter by the light of the moon.
They all come, as God is my witness,
Because they no longer “fit in this”
Or in that, whatever the garment
And have taken the last sarcastic comment
From spouse or lover or friend,
And vowed to themselves, ‘THIS IS THE END’.
For some, who are slow, it takes a long time,
Their bodies and souls to meticulously realign. 
And the really gnarly ones, the crusty and peevish old guys
Well, it takes years to reform, reshape, and maybe resize.
Frankly, there are some who prove our worst fears,
For them, if at all, the transformation will take years.
Sadly, when these old duffers sign up, the staff heaves a collective huge sigh,
For they know that to help them, some staff will probably have to actually die.
Yes, as the trainers collapse and their corpses are stacked,
In loving memory on the wall is hung a huge plaque.
The inscription reads, IN LOVING MEMORY OF JANE who is gone (to Georgia, not dead yet!-Ed.)
 IN LOVING MEMORY OF ASHLEIGH who has also moved on, (to Washington, not dead yet either!-Ed.)
And the old fart has changed hardly a bit
He’s still stiff as a brick,  has lost almost all of his wit,
Now the staff gasps as with pity they cry out “Alas, how can it be?
Will he also do in the lovely one, the one they call Stephanie?
Certainly that young man, the one they call Evan,
Will know, working with him, that’s he’s clearly not in heaven.
 Although I’ve no doubt caused the staff many frustrations and tears,
They have been steadfast and tenacious, and they have been that now for FIVE years.
So while I’ve caused you, no doubt, much pain and much strife,
You in return have improved my quality of life.
No longer is Plaza Fitness a program to get through,
But a way of life, a weekly plan my being to renew.
Week after week after week this I keep repeating
This appointment for abuse and for the beatings.
Still, to all who have each week my person to endure,
Of this dear people, you can always be sure:
The exercise and workouts have enhanced all my days,
And for that I extend to you my thanksgiving and praise.

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