the gym – yikes

So i’ve been thinking lately about joining a gym. For the most part I hate gyms. I hate how many of them feel like a place to pick up dudes and chicks, I hate how you’re constantly bombarded with flyers about their BRAND! NEW! WEIGHT! LOSS! PROGRAM!, I hate how the entire purpose of the building seems to be to promote losing weight over getting healthier and feeling better, and I hate how I feel all guilty and horrible if i skip going several days in a row. I also hate how fat people don’t have as many options for cute (and functional!) work out clothes. Lululemon? please. Athleta? next.

And yet.

And yet there are parts about the gym that I love. I love that it’s practical. I live in a city now where I feel a little scared to run outside by myself when it’s super dark. With a gym membership, I can go move my body as late as I damn well please! I also love it when I can get in that good space – you know the one, where you’re just moving and gettin’ a good sweat on, listening to the perfect music, in the zone. I grew up as an athlete. I played three sports in high school and I was damn good at at least one of them. I love the feeling of moving. Equally importantly, I love the feeling I get when I move my body more. I tend to sleep better, feel better, and have more energy.

Now though?

Now it feels more like a chore. And it feels intimidating. It feels intimidating because I’m no where near the athlete I once was, but my brain still thinks I am. So if I do 20 minutes on the elliptical and want to leave, i’m a big ol failure. You’ll notice I’m talking about “moving my body,” not “working out.” This is very much a conscious choice to shift the framework of (and charge around) the word exercise or phrase “working out.” They carry serious baggage for me. Because I’m not physically able at this point to work out in the ways I have done in the past, I feel ashamed. Like, how did I let myself get this far? Will I ever get “it” back? Is it worth even trying when I have so far to go? If I go on a hike or a run with friends, I’m constantly concerned about holding them back. But that is some harmful shit. For our health (seriously for our health, not “oh you’re so fat but i’m just worried about your health!”), moving is better than not moving. And my job can result in a pretty sedentary day. So, I’m hoping to move more. Plain and simple.

I recently read a blog about the blogger’s relationship with her new personal trainer that brought up all sorts of emotions. More on that later.

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5 responses to “the gym – yikes

  1. i know exactly how you’re feeling. right now i want so badly to be more active, but i’m stuck inside my head and that feeling that i’m “too far gone” to go work out. holding up fellow hikers. you name it. how do you get over that hurdle? i haven’t been able to answer that.

    • taking up of space

      I’m still not sure how you get over it. The approach I’m trying to take now is to recognize that this journey is about ME only. And if people really believe I’m holding them up, that’s their issue and not mine. Much easier said than done, I know. The other thing to remember? Most people don’t care. They just don’t. We think they do but they don’t. Particularly as it relates to going for a walk or a hike or something, your friends just want to hang out with you, whether walking slowly or bombing up the hill. And maybe it’s up to us to open those doors and have the conversations with friends? People who don’t struggle with working out may never have to actually think about how it’s more difficult for others to “keep up” but once it’s brought to their attention, they adjust accordingly and don’t give it a second thought. Wishful thinking?

  2. I think that is a great approach! Im focusing on trying to make this about me too. Its darn difficult though!!! I dont know why that is? Maybe because we have been conditioned to always think about how others feel about our bodies, not just how we feel about them.

    S x

  3. I’ve never in my life been someone who “works out”. I don’t like it. I like saying it, but I don’t like it. I actually usually hate it. It hurts. It takes time away from other things I’d rather be doing. I HATE the gym smell, the gym rats, the fact that other people are there looking at one another, at me. I hate that every single time I’ve started a “work out plan”, I’ve failed at it, which makes me somehow feel like a failure in my life, like I have no will power, no ability to commit, no ability to make contracts with myself that I hold as important or true. And how I can just be so damn mean to my self about how strong or not strong I am, how flabby or not flabby I am, how certain parts of my body don’tlook the way I feel they should, that my body has already “peaked” and that it’s all down hill from here folks.
    But I’ve been going on these walks lately. Mostly out of need… no car, must buy groceries, but solito walks anyways. And it’s been really amazing. You know what I love more than anything is the air, the fresh air. I also love looking at my neighbors gardens, and picking up leaves off the ground that are brilliant red and orange and yellow. It’s more about being a part of this community and nature than going working out. Once or twice, or maybe three times, I’ve even run a little bit. Just because I wanted to. Just because it felt good to move my body. It’s a little thing, but sort of a revelation. The body moving. I love these new words you’ve put in my vocab. Really. Love them.

  4. Oh, just realized there was something else I was going to say about this – the holding other people back part. Honestly, this is one of my biggest issues when I’m spending time outside with my friends. I’ve actually been reduced to tears, or horrendous angry outlashes multiple times while hiking with friends or G etc. I feel like I’m failing just b/c I’m a slow hiker. LIterally actual tears. I actually promised myself this summer that I was no longer going hiking with others. Ever. That’s how angry and sad I was about it. Regardless of what was actually happening in other people’s minds, I was telling myself that my friends and/or my partner, were actually judging me, saying that I was a lazy slob because I was slow. I tried to shrug it off, and say that I wasn’t competitive, I didn’t need to keep up, but that was all a lie. I did care. And it has actually been more than moderately crippling.

    So maybe that’s why these solo walks, these solo opportunities to do some body movement was such a life affirming thing for me. As slow or as fast as I wanted. Just me. No push, no pull.
    I haven’t figured out how to tackle the group outdoor activities, the hikes, the walks, the wanders… how not to feel judged (even though that’s probably not true), how not to be reduced to tears or pissy-ness, but for now, I think the walks alone are good for the heart and soul (and hell, even the body).

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