Four times a week, someone who doesn’t believe in morning finds herself meeting it in a room with fluorescent lighting and a loud soundtrack. The gym opens at 5 a.m., an hour when heartbeats hardly exist — but by the time I get there, the parking lot is full.
One morning a few weeks ago, I noticed two newcomers at the station when the 6:15 pulled in.
We weary dawn-birds have our routines. The man next to me uses his Stairmaster for exactly 35 minutes. The thin woman in a sweatshirt runs on her treadmill for 40. It never changes. It’s like we’re commuters sipping our coffee together, stuck in silence on the 6:15 a.m. local.
But one morning a few weeks ago, I noticed two newcomers at the station when the 6:15 pulled in. Their focus and energy were all out of proportion to the hour. For one thing, they were both upside down. The man was doing back flips on his end of the stretching area. He landed on his feet, assessed his position in space, bounced once or twice, then flipped again. Not too far off, a woman pulled her foot all the way behind her neck. Then she released it, stood, and casually arched back back back until her head was touching the floor.
Their efforts were tremendous, yet neither seemed to be exerting at all. When the one finally flipped all the way to the other, he leaned down, and she leaned up. Tenderly, athletically, they kissed in the middle. It was like inadvertently walking in on a private moment in the lives of two gods. Surely this was Olympus.
A surge of inspired energy overtook me. Next thing I knew, I was speeding up on the Stairmaster. I felt as if one of those golden beings had pointed a divine finger in my direction and said, in a voice that shook heaven: GO FORTH.
The man on the next Stairmaster looked over. He seemed a little surprised. This was not his usual weary, unambitious companion.
Sometimes, it’s worth it to rise at dawn, just for the company you keep.
This segment aired on December 5, 2015.