A few years ago – back when I could be found in nothing lower than 2 inch heels, with hair down to the middle of my back – Sex and the City was blowing up on HBO. Lack of a TV in my college dorm room meant that I was never able to follow Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha quite as closely as some of my friends, but that didn’t mean I was oblivious to it all. And as that infamous foursome sought love in the Big Apple, people claimed that the show was clear evidence that the “30s were the new 20s.”
I naively believed it back then; barely 21 and fully immersed in the self-centered mentality of college, where you’re not really expected to think outside the small universe you’ve built around yourself. I remember being sort of relieved upon hearing that claim, actually; a decade plus of time mentally stretched out before me. Plenty of time to figure out love, life, and everything in between.
But now officially in my late twenties, I can tell you this: your 30s will not, in fact, be anything like your 20s. I don’t care how “mentally young” you claim to be, it’s not the same, if only for the sheer fact that when you’re 30, you probably aren’t still partying on your parents’s dime. And by that time, it’s really not socially acceptable for you to be doing so, either. So that whole bit about your 30s being the new 20s? Huge lie.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about treadmills and triathlons. Then, it somehow seems like women in their 30s dominate, and are having as much or more fun than their 20 something counterparts.
Maybe it’s the typical social calendar and Friday nights of the recently-post-college set that tends to get in the way of regimented training sessions and yoga classes [and who can really blame them?]. But the typical “fitness chick” tends to be a woman more experienced than those just making their way into the workforce. They eat well, hit the gym nearly daily, and work around their work-outs, all while juggling spouses or boyfriends and possibly children. The image isn’t an envious one; fitness chicks are constantly busy, and all they eat are salads and health food. Sure they have amazing bodies, but who really wants to put in that much work to be like them?
Or so the 21-year old me thought. But looking around – at my calendar, the rollers, the yoga mat that has it’s permanent place in the center of the floor, and even the contents of my fridge – it seems as if I’m slowly becoming a fitness chick. Granted, I mostly stick to cycling, but I’ve ventured into Pilates and will sometimes even hit the gym. Five years ago, I hardly knew how to work a treadmill and detested wearing sneakers. Now, I can’t live without either. When did that happen?
Last July, on the weekend following my birthday, my sister had cackled as she asked:
“So how does it feel to be in your late twenties?”
As if, at 28, she wasn’t already well into her late twenties. I had a bit of an existential crisis for a full minute before heading out the door to my new favorite bike shop. Neatly clipping into my pedals on Second Ave, I didn’t feel 26 yet [bicycles tend to have that general effect]. But I knew I was pushing a gear ratio that would have killed both my knees a few years ago.
Dodging pedestrians in Chinatown, I finally had an answer for my sister: it feels great to be in my late twenties. It feels better, in fact, than when I was 21, smoked daily, and could live off bad Chinese food, pizza, and Krispy Kreme. And I’m kind of proud to say that…even if I have my inner budding fitness chick to thank for it.