2: From Gym Friend to Real Friend

2: From Gym Friend to Real Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

From Gym Friend to Real Friend

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?

~Frank Scully

I have been going to the gym for years, hoping to keep my body strong and my bones straight. My mother had severe osteoporosis and I was determined to do all I could to prevent that from happening to me. So I worked out — hard.

On this particular day, I was pressing through my twentieth pushup with a metal weight perched on the middle of my back, feeling every muscle complain, when I heard a woman’s voice say, “I don’t like this.” At least I wasn’t the only one who found working out at the gym trying. When I finished, I looked up and saw a familiar face, a woman who had been going to the gym regularly like me. She was doing sumo squats. We complained to each other about how hard the exercises were today. Our trainer ignored us, as usual.

She finished her workout and left while I was just at the beginning of mine. Our trainings frequently overlapped so we had the chance to talk while we sweated. We were always glad to see each other as gym friends but had never made an attempt to get together outside of the gym.

Later that week, as she was leaving and I was coming in, I said on a whim, “Would you like to meet for lunch some day?”

She seemed pleasantly surprised.

“Sure,” she said.

We made a date for the following Friday after our workouts. She would do some errands and come back for me after I was done.

“Great!” I said, and we went our separate ways.

As the date drew closer, though, I wondered what we would talk about.

On the day we were supposed to get together, our trainer handed me a note. It was an apology. My gym friend was called in to work and wouldn’t be able to meet me. I thanked him for the message, stuffed it in my purse, and went on with my training. But it made me a little edgy. Had I been too pushy? We had never really chatted about anything substantial. Would it be embarrassing for both of us? Had she thought about our meeting and decided it was a bad idea after all?

When we met again she was the one to bring up our getting together. So we made another date. This time she stayed on the treadmill while I exercised and waited for me. We left together and went to a local restaurant in the same shopping center. It was an unusually warm winter day so we ordered and brought our plates outside.

As we settled down we looked at each other across the table and before we knew it we were halfway through our meals and deep into conversation. We learned more about each other as we ate our salads than we had discovered in all the years during our workouts. We found that we had similar philosophies and interests. We talked about family and travels and whatever else popped into our minds. Almost two hours passed before we decided we had better move on.

We had parked our cars side by side without even knowing it.

“I decided,” she said, “that I only want to be friends with someone who speaks to my heart.”

Then she smiled warmly and I knew she meant me. And I knew that I now had a girlfriend who would be part of my life in and outside of the gym.

~Ferida Wolff

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