I have been exercising more. And I have been observing myself. I always find my self oddly amusing. Before I start, let me say for the record, I have made a lifelong habit of exercise. I won’t pat myself on the back too much for this since it was sort of an accident and mostly due to vanity. So, I’m not one of those “resolution-ists” that are crowding up the gym this time of year. But there I am, having just joined a gym and recommitted myself to fitness. And it sucks. Here are some things I’m learning.
Getting back into fitness is so much harder than never stopping
Back in July, I wrote about how I stopped exercising (which meant I wasn’t forcing myself to to do regular official workouts and instead just did the everything else including renovating half our house) and I actually lost weight and really felt better all the way around. Mind you, it was summer. Well, now I’m feeling the effects of losing a lot of muscle and a lot of the ability to do any workout I try and it’s very discouraging. So, please, for your sake and those around you, don’t stop. Ever. Just do something. Easy or hard. Just do a little (or a lot) consistently and keep up muscle tone, flexibility and cardio vascular conditioning.
January is the best (and worst) time to start
So, back to the newly-committed-overly-crowded gym of January. Last year we joined the local YMCA as a family. I had been considering it for a while and they were running a promotion in December: one free month and no join fee. Here was a place, 17 minutes from our house, where I could do group fitness, hubby could work out with weights and weight machines and the kids could sign up for gymnastics, dodgeball, swim, etc. And it would be so much less expensive than the combination of all the many places we were going previously. It wasn’t easy though, actually is was a bit heartbreaking, to say goodbye to my favorite classes at Jazzercise, the Yoga Loft, and CSS group fitness. I can’t say for sure I’m gone for good. But I decided to try something new. I just have to make it through the first few weeks of it being mobbed with people.
I feel super old
For the first time in my life I’m feeling like the “old person” in class. Everyone seems to be in their 20s and 30s and I’d like to say it doesn’t bother me, I would be a liar. I think one of the biggest obstacles to working out — in public at least — is comparing yourself to others. All these complete strangers are all younger, cuter, fitter, and more stylish. And they seem to know what they’re doing. I’m that complete dork who’s watching others get set up: weights, um, mat, more weights, barbell (???!!!), step, risers, paper plates (?) and copying them. But acting super cool like I’m not. Asking questions is not an option. And then I have to pretend I can do everything, and that I’m not dying. “I’m cool. I got this. Am I the only one wanting to barf?” All the while trying to be careful to not throw out my back. Why, oh why, did I allow myself to lose all my core strength? Why Leigh? Saddest part: lots of women much older than me seem to be fine.
I haven’t died yet
So far so good, you know? I’ve been taking it slow and trying to be patient with myself. I’ve done a few different classes. So far I’ve done: Group Cycling, Pilates, “Grit” and “Body Pump”. Grit is like all the worst of 7th grade gym: high knees, burpees (what we used to call “squat thrusts” back in the day), suicide sprints, until you, like, puke. Note to self: stand in the back next time. And Body Pump is where you burn most of your calories dragging every single piece of equipment out of a closet (in competition with 30 other people) like barbells and those circular weights that go on them and the little clippy things that hold them on and try to guess which amount of weight you’re going to need and lift all those things a whole bunch then put it all away afterwards. FYI, Grit and Body Pump are taught by a woman who literally has an Ironman tattoo on her arm.
Working out is better with a friend
One of the things that made me want to joint the Y was that a couple other mom friends are members. I will go with or meet one of them there and it is more fun. I don’t feel so insecure and I think it’s motivating. I did not come up with this idea. It’s, apparently, a thing. Try it!
January will end
I’m looking forward to the gym getting less crowded. Not that I want everyone to stop exercising! But it will be nice. I am one of the lucky ones. I created an exercise habit in my early 20s. I schedule my workouts. I try new things to keep it interesting. I do it when I don’t want to. I do it all year ’round. You might say I just care what I look like. And you’d be right. But my vanity might keep me healthy on the inside just a few extra years. And don’t forget, exercise is good for your mood. And that’s something I can’t get enough of.