My zeal for exercise dates back to Jack LaLanne and his early morning “trimnastics.” I know, I know, I’m dating myself. My kids still roll their eyes recalling my get-the-kids-to-school routine — aka chaos.

Our morning ritual consisted of my sons devouring a bowl of unappetizing rainbow-colored cereal that turned the milk a ghastly green — and Jack. My exercise buddy showed up on the screen in a clingy black jump suit, rendering him colorful in a different way.

Back then, with two kids, husband, job and earning a degree at night, I was exhausted. Yet, Jack’s chirpy voice coming over the air waves motivated me. He promised I would “look better, feel better and live longer.” OK! The organ music that played while Jack and I worked out was cheesy.

I proceeded to follow Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, and other fitness gurus. When I discovered pilates and yoga my fitness routine was complete, that is, until I reached a certain age. Dismayed, I found it harder to keep gravity at bay thus prompting me to join a local gym.

My gym experience is negligible. When I married sweet Frank and moved to Jamesport, I left my life behind on Staten Island. Newlywed bliss is wonderful, but I needed some gal-pals. Joining a gym was a good fix.

When I entered the gym two months ago, it was a far cry from what I remember. It was noisy for starters. There were several television sets tuned to channels offering commentary from various talking heads. Rows of folks were running on treadmills or climbing stairs racking up miles and going nowhere.

The myriad of machines, contraptions, ropes, and various size balls was dizzying. Yet, according to my young trainer guide, these machines would whip me into shape and reverse gravity.

After faithfully attending the gym three times a week for two months, I have adapted to the noise and indescribable music — except for Queen’s “We Will Rock you.” To date, there is no organ music. As far as gravity taking the lead, I would like to think we are neck and neck.

Gym members and staff have been judicious about wiping down the machines — which is definitely a plus. Although I am fully vaccinated, the Delta variant is making itself known primarily to the unvaccinated. This gives me pause. I wonder who in this sweat shop is unvaccinated since wearing a mask is optional.

There are serious “grunters” who work up a sweat. With mirrors along the perimeter, I can see and hear their grunts while they are lifting God knows how many pounds of weight.

Lifting weights is not limited to big muscle men. Women have broken free of the Jane Fonda stereotype and have entered the free weight arena. It’s a “glass ceiling” moment watching these women train.

I’ve noticed folks accompanied by trainers. I was using a shoulder press next to a gal and her trainer. The trainer was a far cry from Jack, Jane and Richard. There was no fun pep talk; it was business — serious business. A little aside, I tried keeping up. Not Happening!

Kudos to those folks who through physical disability take their challenges to the gym. Some are accompanied by attendants. The helpful courtesy shown to these wounded warriors by staff and gym members is a heartwarming gesture in a me-me world.

Speaking of me-me. I was astonished to notice folks taking selfies while working out. Jack, Jane, and Richard would be displeased. The selfie folks stop mid-exercise, pose, snap a picture, and repeat this scenario every few minutes. I would think the start-stop routine is counterproductive.

Most folks, including me, take their phones into the gym. I resist checking it, although I admit I am tempted. Needing to check messages during workouts is a tad compulsive. I mean, really, what earth-shattering thing could happen in the last five or 10 minutes? Recently, I had to politely ask a gal, who was stalled while scrolling through her phone, if she was done with the leg press.

I now recognize a few regulars and we nod or give a thumbs-up sign. I struck up an acquaintance with a gal when we met in the ladies locker room. We commiserate about our persistent war on gravity.

It has been proven that exercise enhances and maintains physical fitness. A healthy body can more easily combat heart and other diseases. It boosts energy and improves mood.

With all these benefits, why is exercise a non-starter for some folks? Research shows the biggest detriments are not having/ making time and setting unrealistic goals. (One is not going to lose 80 pounds in a month.)

However, sometimes when one starts and sticks to an exercise program, they are hard-pressed to revert to a couch potato status. For me, fitness has become personal. I reached the hallowed state of “Ammie” (grand mom) to Luca and Nova later in life. My goal is to be an active participant in their lives, for as long as I am granted the gift of days.

But I’m gonna help it along. Like Jack promised back then: I will look better, feel better and live longer. So far, so good…

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Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.