We started with a chance. You were crowded, with a few machines and a lot of gym rats, but full of potential. I wanted a space to try yoga and you provided that. I practiced yoga in a small, dark room with a fake fireplace. In those first few months, I saw a flicker of my future with you.
Then we moved to the big, beautiful space overlooking the water. You had couches, a smoothie bar, pool, hot tub, sauna, and a yoga studio with two walls of windows. I never imagined it could be this good, this easy. And all at a low, grandfathered-in rate. I was infatuated. I didn’t see how things would change beyond those decadent conveniences.
So off we went. I tried different yoga classes and found my favorite teachers. I even went to kick box cardio and step class. I swam, focusing on just following that wide blue line when life felt tough. I ran into coworkers and friends, trying to create community and branch out of the small circle of my membership.
A decade of yoga saw me through a dozen boyfriends. I did yoga at the beginning of a relationship, arching and rounding my back in anticipatory sex. I did yoga when they ended, letting my closed eyes fill with tears before I said “Namaste.” Somehow that Namaste became a part of my life. Sometimes, at my best, I actually do look for the light in people. You taught me this, Gym. You also taught me to stand firm in myself in difficult conversations—to breathe when I can't do anything else. And you gave so me many small kindnesses: I've forgotten hair ties many times. Once I asked the woman at the smoothie bar if she had a plain rubber band I could borrow. Instead she gave me an unused hot pink hair tie to keep forever. I was baffled by this generosity. I will never forget that, Gym.
But things changed. Some of the yoga teachers I liked started to leave. That was ok for a while; there were others I liked. But when the one whose hand lingered a bit too long on my back said he would be taking over the class I liked when the teacher went on maternity leave, I realized there was now just one teacher I connected with. He rooted me in my practice, talking about our core energy and vibrations. Once he commented that I “looked lighter.” I explained that I’d highlighted my hair. He paused and said, “Start at the top. And work your way up.” These words shook me, Gym. You got me in those moments. Because that's what a good membership does. It sees you in a way you didn’t think you could be seen. But one aspect of so many components isn't enough to sustain a membership. Your limited holiday classes and occasional pool and hot tub problems got to be annoying. I used to love your proximity to the grocery store and free parking, but my current apartment and car-free lifestyle just don't match with that.
And Gym, I think you need a different kind of member. Someone who will use your fancy equipment. Someone who spins, does Zumba, or plays racquetball. I'm not that person, Gym, and as much as we fit in yoga classes in the past, I know myself, and I won't use the machines in the way you offer. And that would be a loss for us both. You will find someone to use your machines, but no one will do yoga just the way I did yoga with you.
Gym, I am sorry. Do you hear me saying that? That just because I have memories of the inappropriate touching and your tepid hot tub doesn't mean that I don't have memories of the hours upon hours we spent in the yoga studio. That will never go away. I know I’m not perfect, Gym. That’s actually why I signed up. Do you see that? Do you see that I wanted to be better with you? Do you see that I wanted this to work for both of us? Nobody joins a gym thinking of the day they will quit. Nobody plans or wishes for the end. I did commit to you, Gym. I showed up many, many days when I didn’t want to. But most memberships don’t last forever, and they probably shouldn’t. After all, what is a place of health and support if you stop being your best self? Why continue the commitment, without health and happiness, for the sake of committing?
I'm going to try somewhere else. Somewhere more like me, with more yoga, barre, and myofascial release. It's more convenient and a little more expensive, and I think I will use it more. I think I will enjoy it more. And I know you’ll have no trouble attracting new members. But Gym, those days when we watched rainbows stretch across the sky holding warrior two are the days I choose to remember. I choose to remember the moments after Savasana, rising to our seats and opening our eyes to a startling connection. That's what I will remember. And I hope you will too.