I’ve had good meetings with others in fresh expression work. One with a vicar who worked for three years setting up a new church in the new-build village of Mawsley, and the other was with a local FEAST (Fresh Expressions Area Strategy Team) group for fresh expressions practitioners from around the county. I also had lunch with an old friend, a curate in another part of Northampton.
I had my first visit to the gym on monday. I mentioned that I saw some potential for a “spiritual fitness” group which might want to pursue whole-life fitness in the context of discipleship. As I go to the gym over the next few months I’ll be looking around and tlaking to people to see whether this is a door that God may be opening.
I haven’t been a member of a gym before so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or how sociable people are in there. One decision I had made before going in was to buy a coffee afterwards and ‘loiter with intent’.
At 9:30 on a monday morning there were a reasonable number of people there, but I wouldn’t say it was packed. As I was coming it a lady coming out said hello to me – that was a good start. In the changing room was the staff member who had signed me up last week, so we had a good conversation too. The fitness room is one large room full of machines and weights with televisions at one end and audio boxes that you can plug yourself into on each machine. Most people were plugged in a concentrating on their exercise. There were a couple of people who had come with a friend and were chatting away but for the most part no one was talking. Most were ladies aged 25-40 but there were a few men in their forties in the gym too. I ran on the treadmill for about 20 minutes and then spent some time on the cross trainer as I watched commonwealth rugby sevens.
In the changing rooms there was a group of retired men who obviously knew each other who had, I think, just been in the pool. My guess is that they come with a group at roughly the same time every week so it is a social as well as fitness activity for them.
I showered and went to the main desk, bought a cup of coffee and sat in the coffee shop. There were some tables with no-one on them but I thought I would try and make connections so I asked if I could join a middle-aged lady who was sitting on her own reading the paper. She gave me a very strange look as if to say ‘you what?’ but didn’t seem to mind me sitting opposite her. She certainly didn’t want to make conversation though. The group of men I’d seen in the changing rooms were sat chatting away in another part of the cafe.
It’ll be interesting to go back at different times of the week and see if the dynamic is any different or if other groups use the cafe.