Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mr. Miyagi

When I started going to the gym I was well over 200 pounds and embarrassed to be there. Here are all these hard-bodied people and, God bless 'em, they are trying not to notice the Pillsbury Dough girl in their midst. Or maybe my presence spurred them on in the vein of "but for the grace of God, there go I." Mostly they were probably just thinking, yeah, she won't last.

Two and a half years after my first courageous foray into the weight room, I am pretty much a regular. I see the same folks at the same time on the same days. But this past week I've been changing up my schedule and hitting the gym after I take Sammi to school instead of the 5:00 opening. It turns out it is just as empty at 7:30. (Avoid 6:00 a.m. at all costs though.)

And last week was a homecoming of sorts, because the 70 year old, 5'2 Afghani gentleman, deeply and naturally tanned with distinguished lines all through his face, and his carefully groomed white beard and head full of white hair, whom I only know as Mr. Miyagi, was finishing up his workout as I was beginning mine.

I was introduced to him way back when I started by Marsha who was showing me the ropes but I can never remember his name. I know at some point I am going to slip up and call him Miyagi aloud, but the reference will be lost on him.

Mr. Miyagi would always greet me in those early days in his broken English and offer advice on which machines I should use, or how long I should run, and I would politely smile and listen and then keep on doing what I knew I could do. He liked me and would call me "teacher." I brought him information on conversational English class offering at ACC after he asked about them. It was one of those acquaintanceships you somehow slip into without realizing its happening.

After I started working 7-4 and going to the gym at 5:00 there was no more Mr. Miyagi. And I've been doing that for a good while, quite a few pounds ago.

So when I walked back in at 7:30 that morning last week he was on the leg-press machine and did a double take before recognizing me with a big grin. I have a feeling he feels a little like Mr. Miyagi, too.

He told me today, with his hands about 8 inches apart -- "you skinny!" I just smiled and said, "I'm getting there." And in his Mr. Miyagi way he responded, "Just don't quit."

Thank you Mr. Miyagi. I needed to hear that. Wax on.


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