If you read this column regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been slacking my face off with some kinds of exercise. I haven’t been to the gym in months—so long, in fact, that the whole gym picked up and moved across town in my absence.

When I went in last night to check out the new space, I felt like I was visiting an old friend. And maybe the weirdest part was—stay with me here—it was the smell that brought back a flood of memories, and really made me want to get back into weight lifting.

For starters, a few details: I’m talking about Family Fitness gym in Edgewood.

Family Fitness moved into the large space next door to Salvation Army at 150 N.M. 344. That’s in the same shopping center as East Mountain Grill and Dough Re Mi Bake Shop. The space nearly quadruples what Family Fitness had before, and the giant room grabs your attention as soon as you walk through the door.

Previously, Family Fitness was an intimate gym, you might say, with machines very close together and virtually no open floor space. Their new space, at 7,700 square feet, allowed the gym to expand its offerings at the same time.

Family Fitness is owned by Becky and Oscar McClure, and when I arrived yesterday, Becky was tearfully seeing off a client who had become a friend and is moving out of town. That’s what makes the gym special, Becky said, that the people who use it become a family.

The larger space at Family Fitness is also being shared by Tremko Karate, which is offering a full complement of classes which include karate for kids and adults, mixed martial arts, yoga, stretch, balance and cardio and more, with classes six days a week. A massage therapist with experience working on athletes will be on hand most weekdays.

Family Fitness is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturdays from 8 to 1 and is closed Sundays; 24-hour access is also available. For details email familyfitness55@aol.com or call 505-433-3015.

After a certain amount of time away from the gym, maybe a few weeks, I start to get self-conscious about going back. Will anybody notice how long I was away? Will anybody comment about my insane slacking? Will anybody judge me the way I constantly judge myself? Will anybody notice if I can’t lift as heavy as I did before? What a bunch of hooey. If I’ve learned one thing by going to a gym, it’s that the other folks at the gym are not paying attention to me—they are focused on their own workouts.

Over the past few months, I’ve struggled.

Writing this column is easy when I’m meeting my goals, and oh-so-hard when I feel I’m not. But it’s the times when I’m not that are the most important in the long term. My strategy through the past few chaotic months—as my workload ramped up and I moved to boot—has been to embrace what I call “free workouts,” such as moving truckloads full of heavy boxes and furniture, and to keep eating good food. It has worked to the extent that I haven’t gained back weight that I had previously lost. That’s great news, because I want the changes I’m making to last a lifetime, and to avoid the yo-yo effect of weight loss and weight gain. Today, no yo-yo feels like a huge accomplishment!

Other factors that have helped me through this slump have been keeping up with my fitness groups online and reaching out to workout buddies to help keep myself accountable.

It can be easy to let it all slide. Why do I want to read about somebody kicking butt getting exercise when I’m barely hanging on? But I do. I follow my virtual inspirations and I read about old ladies running marathons. I remind myself over and over of my goals.

You never know when the scent of machine oil and sweat will be the catalyst for action.

How do you stay motivated when life gets in the way of your health and fitness goals? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or find my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.