First the bad news: This is another blog post consisting of me saying goodbye to something in Missoula. Now the good news: You only have two more days of this left.
When it comes down to the one place where I have spent the majority of my days in Montana it is surprisingly not at work. It is not a residence I have lived in. It isn’t even Buffalo Wild Wings. From the time I arrived in Montana in 2006 to my departure tomorrow I have spent some part of probably 90% of my days at the University of Montana Fitness and Recreation Center.
When I complete my final workout at the rec tomorrow it will put an end to an exercise era for me where I went through the turnstiles of the facility no less than 2,000 times (yes, I did the math). The UM Rec Center provided me with the one constant I had during my entire eight year odyssey in Missoula. It will be strange walking out of it for the last time.
Right when I got to campus as a college freshman I started to hit up the gym. Throughout my time as a student I would rise at 5:30 a.m. every morning so I could arrive at the rec for the 6 a.m. opening. I would get my workout in and then move on with my day. When I got hired by Grizzly Athletics I had the ultimate perk of working only 200 feet from my loyal gym. My exercise sessions transitioned from early morning to the lunch hour but as my iron pumping times switched something else stayed the same: Relationship building.
I have met many people by way of working out at the rec center. When you bust your butt to get better at a consistent time each day you notice the other people who are also consistently busting their butts to get better too. A bond forms. Many times the bond develops into a verbal, first-name relationship. Other times it doesn’t get to the talking stage but more than enough is expressed by the nod of respect that is exchanged each time paths cross. I have developed both of these types of bonds over the years.
Besides the people, I will miss other things about the rec center. I will miss the beautiful facility itself, a multiple story building complete with an outstanding weight room floor, top notch cardio equipment, climbing wall, racquet ball courts, running track, and great smoothie bar. I will miss the convenience that I have enjoyed so much over the past 4+ years working for Grizzly Athletics. I will miss the interactions, conflicts, and people watching I observed. I will miss the respite I got each day when I would stop what I was doing at around noon and sweat it all out at the gym.
But with that in mind I still go back to the people. You can’t replace them. When I interviewed at Coastal Carolina my student tour guide took me to their rec center and it is a beauty! I will have no problem getting my workouts in and getting a good escape from the rigors of the daily grind. However, the people who go to the rec center at the University of Montana will still be in Missoula. But you know what? People bust their butts at gyms all across the country. Soon enough I hope to have relationships with the folks I will see on a consistent basis at the CCU facility. But I won’t forget about the regulars who I shared the gym floor with at the University of Montana Rec Center for eight years. With that said, I can’t wait to dominate my workout tomorrow. Don’t Blink.