Trying to Get Fit

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have recently started attending Silvers Sneakers classes at my local
gym. My Medicare plan gives me virtually free membership and the
classes are a great mix of strength, cardio, and balance training. I’m a
newbie in a class of 50-60 folks that look like all my friends, with the
same graying hair and assortment of limps and leans. I am happy to
be polite but don’t need new friends, and I don’t want to be seen as a
negative new member. Frankly I just want to come, work out, and
leave. I resent the idea that people have “their” spaces and that when
I get there early try to sit up front near the instructor because I am
trying to learn the routines, I am being told”You can’t put your
chair/equipment there because it is So-and-so’s spot.” Do you have a
polite answer? Sometimes people try to hold 10 or more places and it
has begun to move past annoyance to anger. That is exacerbated
because the specific woman in question is a very loud evangelical with
bad politics who annoys me just by existing. I don’t want to yell but
I’m paying dues too, in my fashion.

Trying to Get Fit

Dear Trying:

You can try being polite with the offenders over the seating but I
would avoid a public tangle about evangelism or politics. Stick to the
immediate turf issues, and start with, I’m sure you like to work out
with your friends, but this isn’t a theater with assigned seats. We all
like to be close to the instructor, so I suggest that your friends come
earlier if they want to sit up front.

If that doesn’t work, then say something to the instructor and ask her
to make an announcement saying club policy allows a member to hold
their own seat and one for a friend, but no more than that. If it’s not
the policy, it should be. You might also ask the instructor about moving
around the room when she teaches. But newbie or not, hold your
ground, and smile and chat a little with the folks who are not part of
the clique. I’m sure you’re not the only person who is annoyed by