Why I Joined A Gym: A Year in Review

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.

Expectation Management

This is the third time I have attempted to write this blog post and I don’t know where to start.

*insert sounds of frustration, here*

I’m tired.

I tend to be either goal oriented or completely ambivalent when it comes to dealing with people. If I’m goal oriented, chances are I find this person worthwhile and the kind of human I want in my world. If I’m ambivalent?-chances are I think of you like kale chips. Interesting conceptually, but not necessary.

So. I was goal oriented with New Guy. I knew in broad strokes what I wanted and where it was going. Cool. 

And then shit didn’t add up. Why was I uncertain? Why do words and actions not tally up? Wait. Pull back. Let’s independently assess this.

I’ve come to this ugly conclusion that I am more invested in this than New Guy. New Guy appears, despite his words to the contrary, to want to take things slow – so slow that where I thought being in love meant we were somewhere in the same chapter,it seems he is stuck on the cover page.

He wants to be friends with benefits and not something more structured.

So! I retract my earlier status. I am not in a relationship. I just spend time with someone I want to spend more time bedding.

We’re moving from goal to kale chips real fast.

Cock-a-doodle quack

The person who lives behind me rears chicken. Initially, I thought they were wild chickens, forging out a new undomesticated life for themselves in the walkway behind the house.

Due to the sudden swell in crowing voices, I am more inclined to believe in human intervention.

My whole life, I have accepted that chickens make noises akin to what the TV has taught me.

The TV lies.

The chickens sound like they’re losing their voices crowing as they do. As their voices go horse  (get it? Get it?) from the wretched cries to the predawn light, I wonder if these birds have some sort of OCD that compels them to cry out to the sun, because that shit does not sound comfortable.

Be Happy

I got into a relationship the other day. I haven’t done one of these in a few years. I’m realising why.

Those few who know are ridiculously “happy” for me.”oh, I’m so glad! Your deserve to be happy!” Oh fuck off. It’s more the assurance that I’ve found someone and I’m no longer an inexplicable anomaly, coupled with the idea that sharing my life will somehow give me the veneer of happiness and completion. -someone get me a whiskey.

I am built to be a side chick. After taking care of my mother, work and keeping my head above water, I don’t have enough left to be a primary. Jesus, so early in the game and the comments are made that I can’t spend more time because I have to deal with my mother.

My reality is no one I am with will be able to come before my mother and work. And do not even give me that half assery about how the right guy will understand my circumstances and put up with me. Understanding, tolerating and accepting something are three very different concepts. I’m good when I know I’m expected at certain times, for a certain purpose and the rest is fluff. Not this “I just want to spend time with you,” crap.

Fucking hell, you’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now.

Til Death do us Part

I’ve just come back from a requiem mass for a family friend who passed away last week.

I am disgruntled and off centre as a result.

I have always thought a funeral was meant to be equal parts commemorating the person who was, and coming together to commend the soul of the departed to whatever greater power they believed in. In so doing, everyone provides a sense of consolation and bittersweet remembrance.

I am in the minority it seems.

Speeches were given about how to give speeches. Speeches were given about the importance of funeral plans. Speeches were given commemorating the important people who came to attend. Too many speeches were given about the last week of the departed’s life, and not about the legacy and life lived.

After the funeral, too many conversations were had about how to save money (buy a cheap casket, said in front of the deceased’s family) the hardship of finding a quality deal on memorial flyers. The importance of investing in funeral cover.

God help us, who die here! 

I suppose the only consolation is I wouldn’t attend my own funeral.

For You

At work, we were discussing how much of ourselves we put into work in terms of time, energy, our personalities and character. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

But what do you do, for  you ?

If you were to die today, and have all these regrets of,”I wish I had done this/that” and whatever angel/reaper comes to claim you replies with; “But, you had all those years on earth to do stuff for yourself – what did you do?” How would you respond?

Practically, we can’t all fly off to Italy and walk through cobblestoned walkways. But we could learn about Italian cuisine. We could make a friend in Italy.

We can still enrich our souls and be more than just a job and a Friday night out.

Highlighter and Food

Being happy and hopeful makes me anxious. Experience has taught me that what goes up must come down. And coming down is rarely pleasant. I find being in a mild state of depression generally comfortable. I am listless but I get things done and nothing shakes my centre too much.

As you can imagine, this anxiety makes it difficult to enjoy the brief moments of sunshine.

Where, in the grand scheme, I am going through a hopeful phase, I am trying not to dwell on it overly much. I hope to thwart the Fates for a little longer and sit in the happy space a while longer.

Instead, I am focussing on highlighter. Magic, shiny face powder to dust along the tops of my cheekbones. It looks pretty. Lord Almighty, am I not obsessing over this stuff. And now that I want a certain highlighter, the drugstore doesn’t have it. Cue obsession.

Shiny cheekbones! Metallic soft shimmers. Ooh, green shoes – I think in a former incarnation, I was a magpie.

Also, I need to eat better. It isn’t that I like eating junk food – despite my regular claims to the contrary. Rather, I think I’m afraid of failing. Not failing at eating properly, I can do that. I’m more concerned that I’m building myself up to come crashing down.

Ah good, anxiety is back to keep me company. Well, that’s comforting at least.