A Gal with a Goal

Sharon J. Morris

© Copyright 2020 by Sharon J. Morris

Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash
                              Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash.

“Trippin’ On Lactic Acid” was written in bold white letters on her dark gray t-shirt. Her white mesh ASICS shoes with lavender and gray accents slapped against the black track of the treadmill, set at 3.6 miles per hour, and her short brown hair bounced to the rhythm of the jogging. Margaret gradually increased the incline to 7.5% to prepare her for a 5K race up the side of a mountain in West Virginia, where she and her husband Ken would vacation. When I looked around me everything was gray. The sign-in counter was two-toned gray with gray laminate. The carpet was light gray with splotches of white and black. The host of exercise equipment were a shiny dark gray, with just a few splashes of black and burgundy.

While Margaret was still on the treadmill, Lori and Jean invited her to work-out with a video called “Cardio Max”. I followed the trio into a small side room with gray carpeting. Various exercise equipment decorated the room: a glittering gold hula-hoop rested against the wall, and three large exercise balls, blue, gray and purple, were stacked on top of each other in the corner. Margaret adjusted her glasses, as she took a swallow of water, and then she popped the DVD into the player. The three started lunging, kicking, reaching for the floor, squatting, and jogging, each at their own pace. “Isn’t this fun?” Margaret quipped, as they leaned over with arms spread out, balancing on one foot. “My balance is better today,” she stated. “I’ve been standing on one foot in the checkout lane at the grocery store and I stand on my tip-toes when we stand up to sing at church.” Taking a swig of water after stretching out, Margaret attempted to take her pulse at her radial artery. “I must be dead! I can’t find it!” Moving to the carotid artery and watching the second hand on Jean’s watch, she calculated the beating of her pulse, 126 beats per minute. “Not bad! Thanks for inviting me to do the DVD with you!”

Back out on the gym floor, Margaret reached for two five-pound weights. “I’m working on my upper body today,” she explained. “I’ll work on my lower body tomorrow. This is called ‘running the rack’. I’ll lift 5 pounds, rest, lift 10 pounds, rest and then lift 15 pounds, doing 10 reps each. I rest in between, allowing muscles to regain strength. I have to listen carefully to my body. If I hurt too much, I back off. When I push until I can’t do any more it is called muscle failure. Muscle failure in training can be a good thing as it causes your muscles to expend all energy recovering with more energy than you started with. Energy is replaced in muscles with the body rebuilding its store of ATP, glycogen, and glucose. When I work a muscle too hard, I get micro tears in it and need to rebuild it. Overworking a muscle without enough rest causes lactic acid to build up in the muscle, which is the pain a person will feel later in the day or even two days later, after heavy exercise.”

Finishing the dumb-bell arm curls, Margaret said, “I’ve been here for an hour. I need to get a snack so my sugar doesn’t get too low.”

Margaret stopped at the water fountain to refill her water bottle on her way back to the lockers commenting, “I drink two bottles while I’m at the gym.” She washed her hands before opening her green and black, Youth for Christ, gym bag. Margaret reached inside and took out a Clif Bar. She broke off a piece and gave it to me saying, “This is a meal replacement. Try it!” It was sweet and tasted like it had oatmeal in it. It reminded me of a granola bar.

Going back out into the gym, Margaret lay on one of the burgundy benches. “Now I’m going to work on my lower abdomen,” she said drawing her knees up to her chest. “My goal was to kiss my knees,” she commented, giving them each a smack. She stretched out and grunted, lifting her legs: up-down-open-together…twenty times. “Oh, I just can’t!” she moaned, and rested for a minute, just a minute, before jogging with her feet in the air. “It hurts so bad, but it feels so good!” Margaret declared with a grin, sitting up on the bench.

Throughout the morning, Margaret introduced me to fellow athletes, greeting each one by name. She seemed to know everybody at the Thunder Bolt Health and Fitness Gym. “This is a community within a community,” she told me. Fellow members told me what an inspiration Margaret is to them. Over and over I was told, “Margaret is our chief encourager!”

Margaret progressed to the decline bench, laid down, and put her feet under the feet pedals to continue working on her abs. Her movements were slow and deliberate. “I have to really concentrate on this bench,” sputtered Margaret breathlessly. “I do four reps of ten sit-ups, taking time to twist while I’m sitting up. To help me focus, I use the time to pray for my four grandchildren, one grandchild for each set of reps.”

As Margaret continued to work out, I marveled at the change which had taken place over the last eleven months. Margaret gone to her physician and requested that blood work be done because she was not feeling well. With a dangerously low potassium level, she was sent to the emergency room. There she found out she was a diabetic. It was a miracle she was even still alive with her high sugar level. At 283 pounds, the doctors immediately put her on insulin. Margaret determined in her heart she was going to take every step needed in order to reverse the Type II Diabetes diagnosis. She started a weight loss plan and exercise program helping her to achieve a 110-pound weight loss! She is no longer considered a diabetic, although she still will monitor her sugar levels. Her doctor wants her to lose another 30 pounds before she is considered to be at a healthy weight. As she becomes healthier, her focus is shifting off herself to wanting to be an encouragement to others needing to lose weight. She is training to become a professional trainer and is half way through the program.

Getting up off the bench, Margaret went to the check-in counter to get a couple glucose tablets before finishing her morning at the elliptical machine. “This is a calorie burner,” Margaret stated. “Sometimes my sugar plummets when I’m on this machine.”

I could hardly believe we had spent almost two hours at the gym. Giving her a hug good-bye before she hopped on to the machine, I said, “Keep up the good work! See you at McDonald’s for lunch!”

Walking to my car I mused, “Margaret may be an encourager to members at the gym, but she has also become an inspiration for me!”

I lived in Indonesia at age one through seventeen. I graduated from collage with BA in creative writing in 2013.


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