Bob walked past the windows of the yoga room on his way to one of the “employees only” areas, holding up five fingers. Since it was six fifty-five, I concluded that I either had five minutes to vacate the yoga room or five minutes to quit the gym. The man at the front desk ended my confusion, and I rapidly ran through the first half of the White Eyebrow form twice more, before throwing on my fleece and sneakers and heading for the elevator.
In the era of gyms that are open around the clock, I join the only one in the downtown area that closes before sundown on a Sunday, I thought, shaking my head and smiling at the irony. I had hoped to get in fifteen forms, after spending the day at work producing a live show. I was leaving with four forms to go and more than enough energy left in the joints to pull them off comfortably. I was bummed.
I held the elevator for a fellow member who came through the exit turnstile just as the doors were about to close. He thanked me as he got on and shot a glance at my staffs.
“Doing martial arts, huh?” I nodded. “Which one?”
“Kung fu, Northern Shaolin.”
“Aw, that’s great!” he said with a surprising depth of appreciation. “My father signed me up for judo when I was kid, and I did it intensely for years. Went to the Junior Olympics….
“Wow!” I gave the once over to the tall, thirty-something-year-old with solid muscle definition and genuine love in his face and thought: Yep, he’s one of us.
“I just loved it!” he continued quietly, seeming to go someplace special in his memory. “Martial arts. It’s not a sport. It’s… it’s a way of life.”
“It is!” I agreed, as the elevator arrived on my floor of the garage. Smiling, we wished each other a good night, and I disembarked.
Though I didn’t get his name, I felt like I’d just met an extended family member. And just like that, I was no longer bummed.