Finding happiness in an unlikely location - Out of the Dog House

As I drove down the Boston Post Road to my new favorite hangout Sunday morning I knew I was out of my mind.

The snow was coming down at a steady clip, cars were moving at a snail's pace and I was beginning to feel like I belonged at home with a cup of very rich hot chocolate.

But that wasn't about to happen. I was on my way for my daily fix of endorphins. I would be set for the rest of the day. I would be HAPPY and smiling.

I have joined a gym.

This decision to lose some inches and pounds was not something I decided to do on a whim. I watched with great interest the transformation of the old Service Merchandise site. I was impressed when I saw the growing mound of soil begin to fill the parking lot when the swimming pool was being dug. On a couple of occasions, I ventured inside to check out the progress the workmen were making.

And then it was time to join. Who would ever have thought this would be what I wanted for a Christmas present. As it turned out — it was a great present.

My blood pressure was begging for a respite.

I had heard many times that going to the gym was "fun." How can sweating be fun?! And wearing those trendy little outfits was out of the question. Not to mention all those gym rats with their perfect bodies and permanent smiles.

The first day I went I was nervous. I arrived in an old pair of sweats, one of my many Children's Duathlon t-shirts and a very old pair of sneakers. I walked around, played with the balance balls and finally got up the courage to try a little cardio.

I chose the bicycle with the back. It took three different attempts on three different days to figure out how to operate the darn thing, but now I am a pro. I can even use the Precor Eliptical trainer.

And thanks to that free session with a personal trainer, I now have a basic routine to follow to get me to my new "happy place."

I learned something else at LA Fitness, too: My preconceived belief that everyone at the gym was a size 0 and perky was wrong.

There are just as many people there looking for that perfect body as there are people working to maintain the body they have.

If the gym would only lower the volume of the music they play to "background" instead of "foreground," those of us who are on "the other side of 40, " might find the music genre more tolerable.

The opinions in this column are those of Bridget Albert and do not necessarily represent the opinions of this publication.