Once upon a time I was never in shape. Not in middle school or high school or in the college fitness center where I pretended to work-out but was really just reading a People magazine and checking out the dude situation. I’ve been thin, but never athletic. A size four, but never able to run a mile without taking a 30 minute “allergy break.” Sports were just never my thing. Instead I was a choir, musical, yearbook nerd with body issues. It all worked out okay, but being in shape has never been on my radar.
This is the part of the story where you insert a BUT THEN anecdote featuring a before-and-after photo and magical juice blend squeezed from a zebra’s liver.
Not today, folks!
I did join our local gym a few months ago, inspired by friends getting fit and a few terrifying heart disease infomercials. The day before I signed up, I tried to back out of it because:
1) I hate gyms.
2) Gyms are expensive.
3) Why don’t you just walk outside, dummy?
4) Locker rooms smell weird.
5) Other people will be there.
6) I’m too tired.
7) Exercise is boring.
8) I hate gyms.
I also have a bad track record of signing up for gym memberships and then never going back to actually exercise. At least twice I have called a corporate headquarters to get out of a one year contract due to “extreme circumstance” (I wanted to stay home and watch TV). There was a brief period in my early twenties when my friend Carrie and I would frequent a sketchy gym on the outskirts of town to use the elliptical for ten minutes and then sit in coin operated massage chairs. It was the best of times and the best of times.
Ultimately I decided to sign up and give it another try. My friends Natasha and Mo were doing it, and despite my crusty exterior, I’m a hopeless romantic for second and 15th chances. Also there’s childcare. Even if I just sit and slow pedal on a stationary bike with a book for an hour, that’s worth something–right?
Wrong. Much to my horror, Natasha and Mo did not want to slow pedal and talk celebrity gossip while our kids were in childcare. They didn’t even want to use the elliptical. THE ELLIPTICAL. Instead they insisted on taking classes because “It’s a better work out” and “We will sweat more” and “It will help us stay on task.”
Come to the gym, they said. It will be a nice break, they said.
The first class we do is Zumba. If you are unfamiliar with this ancient practice, it is basically a bunch of women aged 18-100 shaking their butts to Beyonce. Ten minutes in, I start to cry. I can’t do half the moves, but what can I say? There’s just something about grandmas and teenage girls dancersizing to dirty rap together that moves me. Five out of five stars.
The next class we do is called Boot Camp. I’m nervous about the title but they say I’ll be fine. Two minutes in, I remember why I hate exercise. Three minutes in, I am thinking about how to cancel this gym membership. Anemia? Financial ruin? Chronic pink eye? I give Natasha my angriest glare. She responds with a thumbs up. Zero out of five stars.
The next handful of classes are somewhere in between. Spin class, water aerobics, body combat, body flow, yoga. I make a mental checklist of achievements. Small triumphs for my fit friends, but giant leaps for my soft body.
After a few months we fall into a rhythm. We mix and match classes and make plans on Sunday nights for what the week will look like. Everything we do is hard and semi-unpleasant, but I grab my water bottle and load the kids into the car anyways, knowing that if someone wasn’t meeting me there–I would have quit by now. I would have feigned a terminal illness to get out of that one year contract and kissed 10 minutes on the elliptical goodbye.
Sometimes peer pressure wins for everyone in the end.
Once upon a time I was never in shape, but putting on my sneakers without making up a head cold is ten steps ahead of my former self. I have lost zero pounds, but every day I feel my body getting stronger. I still swear during boot camp and lie flat on the ground during push-ups, but I’m showing up. For me, it will always be 100% of the battle.
I wish I could call this a love story, but my love is reserved for the finer things in life; pizza, beer, lying horizontal for as many minutes as possible. So I guess this is more of a like story. A toleration story. As it turns out, I don’t hate gyms. They aren’t that expensive, I can still walk outside, and you don’t have to use the locker room. The people are okay too.
Official Yelp Review—>
I had heard about Exercise for many years and decided to finally give it an honest try at The Gym. Pros: emotional release, stronger muscles, social activity, increased sex drive. Cons: Still kind of hate exercise. 4/5 stars.