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Anchored by Anka

By Patricia Amend

No matter who we are, what we do, or what we know, we can all benefit from having others care enough to gently challenge us now and then…

One evening about a month ago, I darted into my local Boston Sports Club in downtown Boston, shortly after 9 p.m. I wanted to squeeze in 45 minutes of speed walking, jogging, and sprinting intervals on the treadmill, and do a little stretching, before the club closed at 10.  I had been rushed all day, and I didn’t even take time to take my coat and workout bag to the locker room downstairs. Instead, I dropped those items on a chair that sits in front of a long table near the door, a common practice for many members whenever they “pop in.”

But something changed my hurried mindset at the front desk.

It was a white board, on which someone had scrawled, “What Does Fitness Mean to You?” I stopped and read the possibilities, then went on to check in. “I’m so glad that you asked this question,” I told the pleasant young woman as I passed her my keychain. “I know that fitness can mean something different to people at different times in their lives. Or even on different days.”

“I just love fitness and I love to get people to think about it,” she said. She looked right at me and I could tell she wasn’t just being social; she meant it. I asked her name. It’s Anka, and she’s a personal trainer at the club.

What Anka did was get me to stop, have a conversation, and think about why I was there. It was a “member opportunity,” and Anka seized upon it.

Since then, I’ve been noticing the attention she seems to give everyone she sees. Anka also takes the time to photocopy articles of interest and put them on the front table, and writes “Anka’s Tip of the Day” on the white board. I’m certain that she does similar things that I know nothing about; it seems to be part of who she is.

All of the front desk people at this club are also notoriously kind and friendly. I always get a big smile and an acknowledgement when I check in, and a nice send-off when I leave. The manager, Krystyna, greets me pleasantly, every time I see her in the club. She did the same today, when I saw her on the street.

However, that encounter with Anka made a lasting impression. Now, whenever I walk through the door, I recall that conversation and it helps me be more “in the moment,” and focus on what I’m doing and why. As a result, I get more out of every workout.

The irony is that I have written dozens of articles and several books on fitness, what it means, and how to get the most of from it. Yet, she got me to listen.

Thanks, Anka! And thanks to everyone at my club. You all make a difference. Your passion compels you to do what you do so well.

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