For most of the past 7 years I have avoided the gym. it wasn’t always that way. But when you need to lose 100+ pounds it’s easy to think that you don’t belong at the gym. Aren’t gym’s for fit and healthy people? It’s what I would tell myself.
I joined my first gym, Bally’s, when I was 18 years old. My mom and I would go together a lot. I was young and in fairly decent shape (although I did think I was getting fat, thanks to the loser ex-boyfriend). It wasn’t hard to work out, just difficult to find the time. Back then, gym’s weren’t on every corner either, it was over 10 miles from home, but for a year or so I managed to get there about 3 times a week.
When I was 19, my mom got divorced and we moved. We found another Bally’s near the new house, it wasn’t as nice or big and it was much more crowded. I started working full time and going to college at night. Finding time to get to the gym was more difficult now. I would go to another location near Mike’s house on weekends, but it was getting harder. Mostly mom and I walked the hills by our new house, but even that was inconsistent for me.
I tried working out in the morning at the gym across from my office. It was the first time I really felt intimidated at the gym. By then I had put on some weight and was feeling a lot less comfortable in my skin. It was the first time I showered at the gym, and now I was having to get ready with 20 other women, a lot of them half naked as they prettied themselves up for their day. I figured out when to get to the showers so that I would be dressed before they got done with their class and were hitting the showers.
When I moved out a few years later Mike and I moved back near where I grew up. I really hated that Bally’s so we joined LA Fitness. I really got into working out for a while. I was doing step class a lot and was going most days, putting in long workouts. However, I knew nothing about how best to work out, so I did the same thing every time I exercised.
We moved again and joined 24 hour Fitness near our new house. It was always crowded and for the next 3 years I would hit the gym very sporadically. Mostly I walked the hills by our condo.
When we moved to Arizona we re-joined LA Fitness. I worked out with a trainer for the first time. But my heart was really at work at the time. I exercised because I had to and mostly only showed up when I was had a training appointment. I gained a friend (my first trainer, Michelle), but soon my gym attendance slacked off.
A couple years later they opened a 24 Hour Fitness closer to the house, so we moved to that gym. But I didn’t go very often.
For years, Mike really wanted to join a nice gym, one with a lot of amenities. I didn’t want to pay the exorbitant membership fees. I had promised him if one was built closer to our house than the 24 Hour Fitness we could join. I never thought that was possible, 24 Hour Fitness was 2 miles away.
Much to my surprise, driving home one day I saw a sign for a Lifetime Fitness – it was 1 mile from our house. I knew it was over, we were changing gyms – again.
We joined and signed up for personal training together for both of us. This is where my experience with personal trainers really turned me off (a story for another day). The upside of the gym being close is we went a lot.
Then we moved again. I tried to go to the other Lifetime location on our way to work, but it just was not a regular thing going. We were building a new house and temporarily living in an apartment. We used the apartment gym some, but I was no longer in the habit of going to the gym.
We moved in our new home and set up one of the bedrooms as a home gym. How hard could it be to work out if all you had to do is walk down the hall?
Apparently it wasn’t easy, because other than another brief stint at Lifetime, I wasn’t working out much. Occasionally, I walked, but never did get a consistent workout routine going.
For about 10 years at this point, I now felt intimidated at the gym. I was overweight and didn’t feel like I belonged there.
Mike joined Mountainside Fitness for a year and then joined our city’s recreation center, Tumbleweed, which is where he still goes. We have a family membership to Tumbleweed. I have been once.
It was almost 2 months ago that I wanted to add weight training and try working with a personal trainer again. We received a flyer for a new gym, You Fit, close to the house that was inexpensive to join. So I decided to give it a try. It was the first time since I was 18, that I initiated joining a gym. Usually Mike was the initiator.
Pretty quickly I started to feel comfortable at the gym. At YouFit, it never feels too crowded, it is spread out nicely. The people were very friendly and welcoming. I also was blessed with a new trainer, Michelle. She has completely made me overcome my past 2 bad experiences with trainers.
I didn’t let my comfortableness at YouFit last too long before I pushed myself out of my comfort zone again by adding Fitness Works to the mix. After trying a spin class I wanted access to more fitness classes. The do not have classes at YouFit, something that didn’t matter to me when I joined.
I joined Fitness Works, but I was back to square one with gym intimidation again when I started going to classes.
I felt completely over my head in Body Step and Body Combat – I wanted to cry when I first took these classes, because I didn’t think I could do them. I felt out of place. I try not to look around too much in class. I realize I am probably one of the largest people in there. It is so easy to compare yourself to others in those situations. I do see other people other people appearing to struggle like me at parts in the class and I have seen a few of them leave in the middle of the class. I just wouldn’t let myself do it.
I tried Body Pump (weight lifting) and Body Flow (Yoga) and these two classes made me feel a bit more capable. I loved them both and can see why there are a lot of Body Pump fans out there.
In Body Flow I still struggle in the plank section, but I manage most of the class just fine – (thank’s to my trainer!). I now try to fit this class in once a week. It may not burn a lot of calories, but it makes me feel like I am doing something kind for my body rather than making it pound through another workout.
In Body Pump I started by following the newbie advice and used the lowest amount of weight (5 pounds) which was actually too easy for some sections and perfect for others. It would have been easy to think I could do more, since I have been doing weights with my trainer and I know I can lift more on some areas. But when you are focusing on one area for 6 minutes straight, the amount of weight you should use is definitely different than when you are doing 3 sets. Each Body Pump class that I have taken since, I have challenged myself with more weight.
I kept going to Body Combat and after a few classes now I am starting to get comfortable. It is the hardest class I take, but I won’t give up. The instructor is my friend/co-worker Cindy (instructor from spin class) and she is a big reason why I even wanted to add fitness classes to my routine. She definitely motivates me to come back every Tuesday morning at 5:15 a.m. ready “to fight”.
Body Flow, Body Pump and Body Combat are now part of my weekly workout routine. I am also working out with the personal trainer twice a week and have recently started the Couch to 5K training program. I love the variety and it is a big part of what keeps me interested.
Who would have known down this long road of cancelled gym memberships that I would actually one day initiate joining 2 gyms at the same time, show up 5 – 6 days a week and love it!