I sat looking at me. My beard has grown a little, but not enough to disguise the straight and square jawline. A short cropped top beaded, sweat glistened at the tips of grey and bronze. Around my moustache and chin, shadows indicated sunken areas, forming mean corners below my eyes, which were circled by lines and folded flesh.
I looked mean, serious. I was heaving and red, having just sat up, barbells in hand. I sucked in my stomach to complete the picture of an aging athlete. Lifting my legs, I propped my toes against the mat, and watched the calf muscles breathe, inflating and deflating with each rise and fall.
To my right, the twenty-something lady performed squats inside the heavy welded rack. To my left, a man my age was rowing at a controlled pace. Others walked from machine to machine without talking.
I stood and took notice of myself one last time, puffing myself up intentionally. When it comes to feeling powerful, effective, or even valuable, confidence in physical strength is sometimes a substitute for mental and emotional fortitude that seem shaky. More often than not, it is the boost that energizes the others.