The Great Boomer Shortage

Sunday morning at 24 Hour Fitness, and 35 or 40 people are working out. It’s the usual assortment of types — guys with major tattoos, guys for whom weight-lifting is probably an intellectual achievement, couples in sweats who park their kids in the child care room, guys whose bearing suggests they’re probably on parole after a few years in lockdown, skinny Latino teenagers slouching around, cute girls wearing iPods, whatever.

While marching along on the treadmill, and again while moving chunks of iron further away from the floor (temporarily) using handy systems of cables, gears, and levers, I’m looking around the room. And it strikes me that everybody there is at least 20 years younger than me. There may be a few over-40s, but not a single head of gray hair is to be seen.

So where are my peers? Is everybody else in such great shape that they don’t need to exercise? No, that doesn’t seem a very satisfactory explanation.

I’m not a jock, for Pete’s sake — I’m an intellectual. I don’t even know who played in the Superbowl, and I’m baffled that anybody would care. So why is it that, among the thousands of steadily maturing Baby Boomers in this town, I’m the only one who cares enough about health and fitness to get out on a Sunday morning and get a little vigorous exercise?

Sure, some of them are coming in in the afternoon, after I’ve gone. Or Monday morning or whatever. I’m not saying nobody ever works out. What I’m saying is that the demographic in the gym is seriously skewed away from my generation. Statistically speaking, if this is a valid sample (and it is — today wasn’t an anomaly), most people in the 55-and-over age group are not getting nearly enough exercise.

Considering the known benefits of regular exercise, this is a little weird. That’s all I’m saying.

Or … no, maybe there’s another thing. As much as I enjoy watching the cute 20-year-old girls work out, I wouldn’t mind feeling, once in a while, that I was doing an activity in the company of my peer group. It’s a little lonely, if you want to know the truth.

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