Here’s to the Grateful Ones on Thanksgiving

by Suzy Oge on November 22, 2012

I love to see people enjoying their workout! The look of satisfaction after a few challenging reps, or sheer pride after setting a PR is unmistakable, but here’s how to spot true joy in the gym. Watch the door! Lots of people are smiling on the way out the door, some are just happy that it is all over (for the day), others are on their workout high, that STRONG cocktail of endorphins mixed with effort and accomplishment. Hard work just feels good!

But watch the door even more closely and look out for the people smiling on their way in the door. They are usually the grateful ones, feelin’ lucky just to be able to get to the gym and maybe even feelin’ lucky to be alive? Everyone’s story is different, but often the people smiling on the way in are the ones who’ve overcome the most challenges just to walk through the door. Their energy brings the place to life, gives a heartbeat to what might otherwise feel like just a warehouse of equipment. You know who they are in your gym, but did you realize that gratitude is contagious?

I’d like you to meet Arem. Since recently changing my “regular hours” at the gym to midday, he has become my new “boyfriend”. He trains daily from noon to two in the afternoon, and takes Tuesdays and Fridays off. He is a 71 years young Armenian man who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Arem trains hard, sometimes taking short breaks when he trembles and then he gets right back to it. His gym time is the most important and precious thing to him, that is clear! Medications didn’t work for him, but workouts work. The more he does in the gym, the more he can do in his life. Just yesterday he was telling me how sick he was before he started training again just over a year ago. He is much stronger now!

Yesterday he was doing farmer carries up the 2 story open staircase in the gym with 10 or 12 kilo dumb bells (for many rounds). He says that this particular exercise enables him to focus his brain in a specific way. To be honest he makes me nervous on the stairs, but I am busy with my client and can’t exactly hold his hand. Arem is a great source of inspiration for me and especially my client at that hour who admittedly benefits from seeing him as a living reminder to push the excuses out of your head and be grateful for all that you can do! He cheers her on and comments on how quickly she makes progress in her workouts. As I mentioned, he isn’t there every day, but no worries. You don’t have to look far to find another gratitude role model for inspiration. A few times a week just past noon, a taxi bus pulls up in front of the gym and drops off a black woman in her 40s. She slowly and carefully makes her way inside and up that same treacherous open staircase to the ladies locker room. She does it all on her own using a walking stick. The woman is completely blind.

Today is Thanksgiving, so go enjoy your feast, your family, your friends and all that you have. But please raise your glass to the grateful ones and to letting go of the excuses that hold you back! Start living your life to the fullest by focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t. The gym is a great place to start!


Natalie November 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Amazing, thanks for sharing! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Suzy : )

Suzy Oge November 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Thank you Natalie. You know, no matter how many times I see the woman make her way up and down those stairs, I am struck every time!

Lisa November 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm

It’s true, smiles while entering the gym are the best.

I wish that more people saw these individuals and realised that we all have our own individual levels of fitness. Each day that I am able to do JTLC and hypers I feel really empowered and hopefull that my body is getting better.

So I am thankfull for Hypers and the cobra stretch, actually add posture to that too!!!

Viviana November 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for posting this Suzy! You managed to put in words what I’ve been feeling for the past weeks.
Sometimes we forget how easy some of us have it. Seeing how motivated Arem is and how hard he trains has definitely put things into perspective and has motivated me to push harder and to stop making excuses not to become a healthier version of myself.

Vinita November 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Brilliant and inspiring! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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