In February 2016 I joined a local gym, with no firm goal except that I wanted to try something completely different that would shake up my routine.
It’s now January 2017 and we are almost at that one year mark.
Joining a gym and using it, has been an interesting experience; there’s very little to compare it to – or perhaps I just don’t do much outside of work, light socializing and home life. This is an equally true possibility, these are my observations.
It’s different going to a place where no one really sets the goals except you. Everyone around you has their various goals and they are figuring out how to get there, with or without a trainer. The interactions with people there are different too, fine my gym has the reputation of being geared towards the corporates, but no one there is defined by their job. Unless you strike up a conversation with someone, you don’t know and may not even care what another person does for work at the gym. For the most part people are in their own world and don’t strike up conversations for no reason with other people, unless its the thirsty gym bunny who is looking for some action. They’re creepy.
The gym is daunting, there are all these machines and barring the most common machines, figuring out which body part goes where and how to use the thing is a little daunting. And we have all seem the gym video fails. So as much as we are in our own worlds, tomfoolery and nonsense will be judged hard. Yes, the machines have little instructional diagrams and some have instructional videos, but figuring out what to do and when to do what, how many reps to do, how long to go for, and when to push for more and when to stop, are all daunting questions I faced when looking at the weights floor. I do not want to kill myself with a failed jerk!
I started off with the pool, which is surprisingly underutilized. I moved into a boxing class and I’m now ok enough to go alone; it was a process for me. I’m sure other people can adapt faster – I’m not like that. It has taken me a year to learn the basics of the rhythm of the gym and be comfortable in different areas that aren’t a part of my training knowledge.
Bottom line; would I recommend joining a gym? Yes. It’s an experience which is for the most part very rewarding. I think because I didn’t go in with firmed up body image goals, I didn’t get frustrated and quit when I didn’t see certain physical results. I made new friends who aren’t connected with me because of work or family. They aren’t friends who are expensive, in that we only know each other to socialize, they’re people who I can appreciate in any context and actually enjoy their company. It gave me somewhere to go and something to do outside of work and home, and no one asks you to cut gym to hang out with them. I fear this would be done with another kind of hobby. I’ve learnt and been exposed to a whole other world of information and experiences. It was good to have a set aside space and time to get a workout in, until I could find the motivation to go in whenever and more regularly. Being part of a group of good people who were all physically suffering with me during training sessions helped to pick me up on the days when I didn’t want to train and I thought my desk job was more important. Being part of a class helped me feel like I was doing something and doing it properly instead of just messing about and possibly hurting myself in a gym with equipment I wasn’t trained to use.
The world I live in likes to focus on mental attributes and character traits. My physique doesn’t necessarily or directly impact my ability to get ahead in my career, my social dealings or my home life. As a result, my body is just kind of there. I’m naturally slender and the idea of “you don’t need to work out” is used in reference to me. But as a result, I’m very disconnected from my body and what it can do. It’s been a good ride learning what my physical side is capable of and how it can change.
If you’re thinking about joining a gym or changing up your physical routine, but are a little unsure – please try. Please give it a shot and see what you learn and accomplish for however long you do it for. Don’t beat yourself up for how you look and become afraid or frustrated and not try at all.
A few tips:
Join a class, get a trainer, or go with someone who already trains. It will help give your gym time more structure and make it more rewarding in the beginning before you find your feet.
Try out different classes (my gym has some free classes, and in January / February some of the trainers give free classes to reel people in)-this is about discovering you and what workouts will work best for you, experiment and experience!
Be patient with yourself. It takes our minds years to learn the lessons we’re conditioned to believe are necessary to survive in the real adult world, and even then, we spend a lot of time flailing around not understanding adulting. The gym, workouts, fitness and changing your body is going to take time. Stick with it and embrace the small victories.
Depending on your gym lay out, start with the machines you know – maybe a treadmill? Use it and watch other people train. Learn what workouts people do and how they use the machines, especially if you aren’t entirely sure how the machines work.
Have fun. – I must piss off enough people at the gym with my antics. But it makes me happy. I can goof off with my gym mates, and be a child again with all that youthful physical exuberance we lose when we become adults and are told its improper.
Best wishes to you all for 2017.