The best part of your gym (The Importance of You, Again)

“We want this place to be the best part of your day.” It was the smile on my professor’s face that made me believe he was speaking from his heart.

*

Last week, the world lost one of my coworkers: a hard-working, pup-loving young man whose life had been cut short just when we started to know the best of him.

It was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had at my job.

We were allowed to leave early and I eventually did late in the afternoon, bright-eyed and dazed. At home, the only thing I could do was sit on the couch and stare at the wall.

A notification on my phone broke through the darkness. It was my reminder for BJJ class.

My body moved on autopilot. Somehow, I had made it to the gym. But it wasn’t until I was walking back home that I realized I’d been able to do normal things for a while – and not think about his passing.

I remember pausing in the middle of the sidewalk, overwhelmed with gratitude.

‘How lucky am I,’ I had thought to myself while staring up at the moon with watery eyes, ‘To have a place to go to in a time like this.’

*

Things didn’t really register until this week. Concerns about COVID-19 had already entered the dialogue at work, not to mention the texts from my parents. But it was when my teammates started talking about it during BJJ class that I truly understood.

The gym would have to close.

Every time the world seemed dark and uncertain, I’d always turned to the gym. There, my instructors worked their BJJ magic so that for just a couple hours, everything would be all right.

But this time, closing the gym was the best “magic” they could do.

The thing is, it won’t be for just a couple hours. And likely more than a couple days – or even weeks.

No one knows how long it will take for COVID-19 to slow down, let alone pass completely.

But what I do know is that I want my gym to still be there when it does.

*

I’m in a lucky spot: My job can be done from anywhere, so during this time of crisis, I’m still receiving a paycheck. But I know that there are many that can’t say the same.

And I’m willing to bet that most BJJ instructors and gym owners are in that group.

If you can, please continue your membership with your gym. Help them survive the dark uncertainty of this time. They opened their doors to build community; they’ve closed their doors to protect it.

Let’s do what we can so that when this all passes, we can all enter through those doors and be together again, sharing the best part of our day.