In magenta and lilac is Team Emily

Having extorted the last out of the free trial offers at every fitness center in my neighborhood, I finally became a card-holding member of the Prospect Park YMCA on the first of this month. My roommate has been working out there for most of this year while I flitted between fitness centers and dance studios in two boroughs. I was a harlot in yoga pants. And all along, the gym of my dreams was just two and a half blocks away.

There is a TV screen at every single cardio machine. And baskets full of abrasive, threadbare towels under a sign that says Towel Service. There is no juice bar, nor is there any pretension at the juice bar. Sometimes, white-haired men wearing sweatbands and heart monitors hold the door for me.

The week before I registered at the Y, I rubbed the fuzzy lining of my sneakers down through to the rubber underneath the ball of my left foot. I was visiting home for the weekend, so I considered going to this store on Route 7 where this guy, a sage of sneakers, apparently, will watch you run back and forth in front of the building, analyze your gait, and recommend running shoes based on the arch of your foot and the pressure points of your natural stride.

I drove right by the store when I imagined this shoe guru making me hoof it across the parking lot and then asking about my history with athletic footwear.

“How have you chosen your sneakers in the past?”

“Usually I go to Kohl’s and find the ones that are marked down to like, $32.99. And then I pick based on which one they have in my size, which is Pretty Big, Like, Double-Digits.”

“I see. Try this one on. It provides excellent arch support.”

“Eek, uh-uh, not those. I don’t like the yellow stripes. What do you have in pink?”

Instead, I drove to Kohl’s and found the aisle of markdowns. Just $28.99 put me in a pair of darling sneakers with lilac trim and that cushion-y bubble in the heel.

When I was a kid, I played softball for at least six years mostly because I kept hoping that my team’s t-shirts would be a better color the next season. Now that I get to pick all the colors, cute fitness apparel is totally an incentive to get to the gym. My rule is that I can’t skip two days in a row. I’ve come a long way from picking dandelions in the very far corner of the soccer field.

And when pink gym shorts aren’t enough, I fall back on peer pressure from my roommate and a touch of passive aggression. I can’t let those guys in the sweatbands outrun me.