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About the Writer:
Joanne Sampl

With grown step-children, college age sons and a self-employed husband, Joanne offers her time to God and to others. Her interest in writing and communications brought her back to college as an adult and through several reinventions of her own business and ministries. With time on her hands, she writes about God and life.



Authenticity before the Elliptical Machine

By Joanne Sampl

The first time I used an elliptical machine – a popular piece of cardio equipment in most fitness centers – I nearly passed out. I’d never exerted that much so quickly in my life. Within the first 2 minutes, my heart rate jumped to over 180 beats per minute and I became dizzy to the point of nausea. It didn’t help that I was the oldest person in a required gym class for a community college, and it definitely didn’t help that my instructor was over half my age. I’m not sure he expected watching me stumble off the equipment, unable to speak from the intense breathing I was doing nor watching me turn patriotic shades of red, then white, then blue. It was a memorable moment for us both.

After I regained my color and my composure, the nice young instructor asked me some questions about the way I was using the equipment.

“Did you enter in your age?” he asked. Enter it where, I thought. It’s on my driver’s license.

“Did you enter your weight in here?” he questioned me as he gestured towards the mission control panel on the contraption. Gosh, even my driver’s license doesn’t have the right number for my weight on it, I admitted only to myself.

Fortunately, my silence was contributed to my exhaustion from over working myself more than to my own inner stubbornness to publicizing my personal data, even to a machine.

The next class time, I timidly considered trying the elliptical beast again. After all, it was supposed to be good for my aging knees and feet. I did sign up for the class so that I could learn how to work fitness equipment and lose a few pounds. My frugal brain reminded me that taking this class was cheaper than paying a personal trainer to watch me sweat. Maybe I could make it for 3 minutes before I felt like I might pass out, I hoped.

As I neared the machine, I noticed the young instructor walking towards the same area of the gym as the elliptical machine. Oh, NO! He’s going to watch me this time! Panic set in. My heart rate went up even before I put my feet into the flat shoe size plates and grabbed the ski pole hand rails. The instructor quickly started pushing buttons on my machine, and asked me how old I was to put into the data. How rude! Yes, I know he meant well. Yes, I know he was concerned about my health and my safety. Yes, I know he was a man and such details didn’t bother him. No, he didn’t know that this was my moment of truth.

I failed miserably.

“Thirty-six,” I blurted out, knowing full well that the bottle of drugstore hair color did not take six years off my age. I can’t even tell you how badly I lied on the weight question.

For weeks my heart ached that I lied. For weeks my body ached, too, but that was another matter.

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” - Proverbs 12:19 (NIV)

There’s a lying game I didn’t realize I played with God, too. As much as I didn’t want that instructor to know my real age and weight, there are things I don’t want to reveal to God. Pride was part of that lie, but so was distrust. I expected that young man to remember me because of my weight or my age, not because I was an adult trying to do something I hadn’t done before. I was the student who didn’t know what to do. I didn’t trust him with the truth so that he could show me what to do. Do I trust God with the truth? Do I expect God to judge me when I tell Him the truth, or do I trust God to love me through the truth?

So, now I go to the gym a mile from my house and climb onto the beast twice a week. I enter my real weight and my real age as a real reminder to trust God with the truths in my heart, no matter what they are. For the next thirty minutes, I talk to God from my heart. I practice authenticity before My God and my elliptical machine. Now, that’s a workout!


Copyright © January 2008 – Joanne Sampl. All rights reserved.


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