Although you’d never know it by my looks, I lift weights. I am not very strong (yet) and I am age-flabby and a bit – ahem – on the high side of my body fat ratio goal. I do, however, remember, from thirty-odd years ago, when I was a real gym rat, how to work out.
I know the proper technique, the right exercises for each muscle group, gym etiquette – yes, there IS such a thing. I also know when someone is headed for a serious injury because they don’t know.
Such was the case a few weeks ago, when two early-teens-ers visited the weight room on spring break. They looked more like future computer geniuses than athletes. There was something about them that stirred my mommy senses, so I kept an eye on them. It took less than two minutes for me to see they were going to hurt themselves, so I did what I had to do, even though I wasn’t at all sure how they’d take it.
“Don’t lock your elbows. You’ll damage your joints.” I cheerfully called across the room. What I got in response was stunning. “Thank you! Thank you for your help,” replied the older boy, with a direct look into my eyes and an earnest braces-sparkling smile.
When their mother popped in the get them, I introduced myself and congratulated her on raising two polite young men. She smiled. “My younger son is autistic.” I knew; so was my daughter. I seem to have radar for folks on the spectrum. I know what it is like to parent a child who is “different.”
I love the weight room. I love the energy and inspiration that the strong and fit bring to the place. I love the determination of the beginners.
When someone who strikes us as “out of place” comes to our playground, we should try hard to fight our initial judgment – which is usually, driven by our bratty inner child who operates out of jealousy, fear, or too little coffee – uncharitable, to say the least.
Jumping to conclusions is the one exercise we all seem far too willing to do. Let’s practice good form and exercise kindness. Lots of reps. Strengthen our hearts.