Recently I started going to the gym (for better or worse, I’m going to shift the weight I’ve gained due to happiness and cake) and am actually clocking up some satisfactory time there, even if I don’t do anything too ambitious.
I’ve been a member for a month and gone about…. erm….. 8 timesish? Three times in the past week, so I don’t feel like I’m tapering out just yet.
Gyms are not my natural habitat. I’m not a big fan of places with bright lights, other people and no opportunity to crack open a book, but I’m quite comfortable in this place – it’s a teeny space with a cosy feel to it, nothing I’m allergic to in there and the people who seem to go there are like me: they’re going because the nasty doctor told them too, or because they really should, not because they really want to.
There’s a lot to be said about that kind of atmosphere, very little competition and even less eye contact. We’re in there to do our thing without being seen and get out as soon as we possibly can.
Now you have the image of an antisocial hermit jiggling about on a crosstrainer (because this antisocial hermit has very dodgy knees), let me tell you what I’ve learnt this month:
- Not All Inductions Are Created Equal
After my panic attack and fit of social anxiety about having an induction to the gym, the whole thing passed exceptionally quickly and painlessly. The reason for that being that the guy didn’t actually show us how any of the equipment worked or demonstrate anything, which was fine at the time because I was trying not to hyperventilate but now I’m actually using the equipment it’s not exactly ideal.
While I was there Monday evening, the manager of the gym was walking through an induction with some older ladies (I know it’s silly but I may as well ‘fess up now, I’d done 5km on the exercise bike and about 15 minutes alternating between running and walking so I took my hands off the heart rate monitor as they came close to cover up the fact that I’m as unfit as f*. Not that the buckets of sweat and head vein weren’t a dead giveaway). He then demonstrated how each and every piece of equipment in the place worked which suggests that the 5 minute crash course I had may have lacked some vital information, such as why a treadmill has A GAZILLION BUTTONS.
- It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
This weekend, I had to run out mid session to stop myself peeing with laughter.
While I was there, I was aware of a bloke – early thirties, looked physically fit, slim build – doing weights in a very loud look-at-me kind of way. I kept jumping every time I heard a loud *thunk* as he dropped the weights down but more or less ignored him until he moved over to the kettle bell station and started making very loud grunting noises, at which point I turned around expecting to see him lifting a weight the size of a cannonball over his head but no, our eyes met a second later as we acknowledge he is fiercely gripping a 2KG weight with both hands.
Far be it from me to judge anyone, but if you’re going to make those kinds of noises – you better be lifting a weight worthy of them or you will see me running from the room howling with laughter.
- Stereotypes Exist – And I Have The Cure
There’s the stereotype of the gym bod bloke who leers at the women coming into the gym, which is not one I expected to come across in this friendly place but I guess toothless letches can appear anywhere.
Of course, Mr 3 Tooth Wonder hasn’t realised something vital – he’s leering at me before I’ve started exercising. He’s making eye contact and smiling at me at all times but I fix him my steely gaze and know that 10 minutes from now, I’m going to be a sweaty, red-faced, wheezy mess and my cast iron sports bra isn’t going to permit any jiggling that he may have been hoping for.
Exactly 10 minutes later, I turn back to him and let him behold me in my soggy, puffy splendour… I’ve never seen anyone break eye contact so swiftly in all my life!
- Exercise Is A Commitment
Up til now, when my friends have told me that we can’t make plans because they’re going to the gym, I didn’t really understand but it all makes sense now…. I’m aiming to go a minimum of 3 times a week and not all on the weekend, so when exactly can you carve this hour or so out of your evenings?
It’s a slippery slope, if you cancel going to the gym once in a week then the chances are you’ll do the same for the rest of the week and stay in and scoop Ben&Jerries out of the pot with nachos and McDonald’s chicken nuggets instead.
Now I see it in a different light. I have to shower, take medication, sleep and go to work which are non-negotiable activities in my day so doing exercise is going to be the same.
“Sorry, I can’t come out tonight. I’ve got to go abuse my knees” – Me