In early February, I joined a gym. The first thing I thought when I went in to sign up was that the main room looked as though it was filled with an army of men and women all simultaneously running in place like hamsters on a wheel (which, I suppose, is exactly what they were doing). There were TV's with the news flashing across them. Guys who thought they were hott in their muscle shirts were checking themselves out in the mirror, and a couple of middle-aged moms were laughing and talking and sipping water bottles as they walked to a group fitness class in the back of the room. I was still bundled up in my coat and gloves and receiving a tour from a cheerful woman in spandex and a half-zip. After she showed me the pool and locker rooms, she walked through the pricing binder with me and pointed to the dotted line. It was a stretch, but I paid the entrance fee and signed my way into a membership. I'd never belonged to a gym before. I have to say, it's been a painful four weeks. In the best of ways. I can only say that now because I think I've finally just gotten over the hump. There's something about exercising that's so incredibly frustrating when you are starting out. You're out of shape, everything hurts, you can't keep up with anyone else, you sweat and strain, and soon discover that results aren't happening right away like you thought they would. Getting into a schedule is hard too.
My parents are pretty active in sports of one kind or another, which is something I've always admired about them, and my mom would always tell me, "Don't waste a work out. Why would you put yourself through all of that if you're not going to stick with it?" This is what I tell myself when I feel like throwing my gym card out my car window and into the snow. Wisely, she would also say, "But don't burn yourself out either. Pick three or four days out of the week and leave it at that."
One thing I do enjoy about a gym is how kinesthetically social it is. There's something about running on a treadmill when eighty other people are running on treadmills, climbing stair-steppers and pushing ellipticals back and forth right along with you. It's like we're all collectively pushing towards better health as one, sweat sheen above our eyebrows and guzzling water bottle after water bottle. Amy has been coming with me each day too and sometimes Liz or my roommates for Body Pump or Yoga. It's turned into a really fun, group goal, and I feel encouraged when I'm at work the next day that I'm not the only one walking around with sore quads and triceps. The endorphins have been pretty nice too.
Here's to situps, squats, and high knees, and also to breaks from exercising on Fridays!