I quit smoking right at six years ago. Almost instantly, I became the worst ex-smoker imaginable. You know the guy who is constantly telling you, “That stuff is bad for you?” I’m that kind of ex-smoker.
Because I loved cigarettes and I quit, I assume everyone can and should also quit. It was definitely one of the hardest things I ever did. To this day, I still have dreams about smoking.
Shortly after I quit smoking, I joined a local gym. I figured regular exercise would help purge the system of 20 years’ worth of abuse, along with keeping me motivated to stay quit.
One of the first mornings I was at the gym, I noticed a classroom full of ladies working out near the treadmill I was on. I thought I might join them one morning for a workout. I figured they might need a bug killed here or there, or maybe help opening a water bottle. I am a helpful soul like that.
The next time I was at the gym before they began their class, I went in and joined them. It was an hour-long class. I figured I could work out with them and then go for a real workout.
About five minutes into that class I realized I would be in no condition to kill any bugs or open any bottles. I was quickly scanning the room, hoping and praying one of these ladies knew CPR, as I was fairly certain I was going to collapse at any moment.
At about the 40-minute mark of the class, the instructor asked us to grab our water and head outside. Thank goodness, fresh air! Maybe we were going to go for a stroll around the neighborhood.
As it would turn out, I was only half right. There was fresh air waiting outside but no leisurely stroll. There were, however, a set of steps we quickly began running up and down.
I made it up and down the steps maybe two or three times when I was hit with what I contend to this day was an immediate onset of food poisoning. I made a beeline for the trees, to deal with this most unfortunately timed case of food poisoning.
I wish the story of my first day in gym class ended there, but it doesn’t. I was in the wood line, dealing with my failing body and wondering how I was going to make my escape. I had to get my keys from the classroom, get back out to my truck, cancel my gym membership and move far away from this area. All without any of these ladies ever seeing me again.
I looked back up to the stairs to wait for my chance to set my escape plan in action. Not only were these ladies still running the stairs, they were high-fiving as they passed each other.
I think one of them was kind enough to come over and open my water bottle for me. I’m not afraid of many bugs, but I suspect she would have killed one for me if I needed it, as I lay there in the fetal position. The funny thing about food poisoning is once you catch your breath, it just goes away as quickly as it came.
That is how I met who would turn out to be some of the best friends I have ever known. We celebrate Christmas together. We celebrate birthdays together. Exercising with them turned out to be as good for my soul as it was for my body.
I don’t get to work out with them as much as I would like, but I know they are my friends for life. And I didn’t just write this because my birthday is coming up and I expect they will all read this article.
(Toby Nix is a writer and deputy sheriff living in Newnan.)