Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Visit to My Local Gym (ALS Humor)


Hi, friend! Thanks for stopping by!

I’m on the way to get my daily dose of endorphins - - those feel-good, body inspiring, stress-relieving chemicals that our brains release when we’re movin’ and groovin’ - - down at the recreation center - -and you’re just in time to join me!

What’s a woman with ALS, who gets around by pushing a wheelie-walker doing at a recreation center, you ask?

Well, it’s a proven fact that moderate exercise is good for people like me who have ALS, and it may even help slow down the progression of our disease. Plus, just getting out, showing up and being among other people is vital for our wellness and... there’s a whole lot of joy out there. So let’s go get it!

Despite the fact that I have ALS, walk with a limp and push a walker, I’ve discovered that down at the recreation center I blend right in. That’s because most of the residents in my community are retired and around here knee and hip replacement surgeries are almost a rite of passage. They see me as just one more middle-aged former exercise junkie in the midst of rehab. No questions asked.

Often we don’t know (or remember!) each other’s names, but that doesn’t matter. We treat each other as friends and take notice whenever a “regular” hasn’t shown up for a while. During idle chit-chat we may ask, “Where’s Sue? She’s the one who always wears the red jacket.” Or, “What happened to the fellow with the droopy shorts?” 

Occasionally, and only if we’re talking to a real regular, do we stray into more specific descriptions. Like, “Where’s Vitamin-breath Guy,” or “Haven’t seen the Gym-Buddies around for a while.”

I think there’s a pair of “Gym Buddies” in every workout room around the world! You know the ones: they meet up at the same time every day, follow the same circuit together on the weight machines and tell pretty much the same old jokes - - over and over and over.

If you want a lesson in multi-tasking, just watch the folks over on the treadmills. Their routine is to put a plastic molded device over the controls, place a book or magazine on the plastic shelf, then headphones over their ears followed by a press of the button to a tiny box clipped to their shorts. The treadmill starts up and they take off walk-jogging at an impressive clip.

I am in awe. They're walking while reading, while listening to music and in total disregard of the view out the windows - - a sweeping vista of our desert valley and mountain range!

Lucky for us it’s time to move on, so let’s head down the hall. I’ve got a special class I want to show you!

It’s on past the Bird-Watching class, past the French language class and beyond the darkened room with shadowy figures inside all moving in ϋber slow motion. I’ll bet you didn’t know, that a barefoot yoga student can actually maneuver pretty darn fast  - - especially sprinting down the hall when that “I-gotta-pee-right-now” moment occurs in the middle of class. More than once we’ve played the game of “dodge the woman with the walker,” as I brace for approaching impact.

Can you hear the music? We’re almost there! A few more steps and around the corner… ahh! The Latin beats of the ever popular Zumba class and my favorite group of smiling, happy, who-cares-how-you-move ladies.   

Thanks to a generous budget at the recreation center, this lucky Zumba teacher doesn’t have to haul around a cheap little old CD player - - she gets to use a professional-grade, D.J. ready, super-sound system and, she’s not afraid to crank it up!

Oh, I love to do hallway laps when Zumba is in session; my steps pick up the beat, my body feels the sway and it just makes walking fun! Like most Zumba teachers, she uses a CD that takes the class from warm-up all the way through cool-down. So I know that I need to be in my spot at precisely 10:10 A.M.; which is near the window to their room. That’s because at precisely 10:10 A.M. - - well, let’s just say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen 35 middle-age (and older!) women dancing their hearts out to Proud Mary, sung by Ike and Tina Turner!

“I left a good job in the city,
 Working for the man every night and day”

In tandem, they pump arms, side-step right and then to the left.

"And I never lost one minute of sleeping,
 Worrying 'bout the way things might have been”

The Zumba ladies are used to me being on the other side of the window and kindly share their joie de vivre and music with me - - the woman in out the hall dancing with her walker.

"Big wheel keep on turning,
 Proud Mary keep on burning,
 And we're rolling, rolling,
 Rolling on the river”

Then - - it happens!

This is what we’ve all been waiting for - - a loud smack on the drums, trumpets blare and suddenly the tune goes into double-time! No more set choreography or synchronization - - it’s so fast all we can do is stomp our feet, shimmy our knees, throw our arms in the air and gyrate. The glass in the window even begins to vibrate.

As the tempo takes hold… tennis shoes give way to imaginary six-inch platform high-heels. T-shirts and shorts transform into imaginary sparkly mini-dresses with fringe that shakes and shimmers. Sweat glistens on our skin… we stomp… we shake…

We see and hear the imaginary crowd that’s before us, there's a roar… and for a split-second…

                                                    we… ARE… Tina!


A final drum crash and the music fades away; along with fantasies, dreams and imaginations. Smiles are shared all-around and there’s even an acknowledging wave to me at the other side of the window.

Soon the familiar cool-down music begins and I move on. Yes, that was a shot of endorphins, but more importantly it was also a shot of JOY - - the joy of sharing an experience with others - - and the joy of being alive. And you can bet I’ll be back tomorrow!

Even if you have ALS... in Life… ya just gotta keep rolling on the river! 

Dagmar Munn
ALS and Wellness Blogger


  1. Thank you always, for your inspiration and positive affirmation to live life to the fullest, you are capable of....It applies to every day life...and is much appreciated......

  2. Great post and glad to hear how you are doing. I am so glad the recreational center is so fun! Wishing you and your husband the very best in 2016! Cindy

    1. Thanks Cindy! Wishing you a great 2016 as well!


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