Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Things I learned at the Gym

I was thinking about how in the last few months I've come a long way since joining (and actually going) to the gym. Not just physically, but mentally. The gym can be scary. If you're a current gym-goer, you may think that's totally lame to say. But I know I've talked to many, many people who are very intimidated by it at first. I know there was a part of me that was.

In the end, though, I'm glad I got over myself and just did it. It wasn't until I talked to a friend who's been a member for years and years, with kids ranging from age 4-middle school, who told me it was the best thing she ever did through the young days of having babies, toddlers, and even now as they get older. It was a place she could have a little me-time, she trusted the childcare workers and loved them, her kids got some socialization (when not in school, obviously), and she could exercise and increase personal health. Hearing all that is when it clicked for me that I needed a place like that. Hearing her shining reference obviously helped, too.

So here are a few things I've learned since I took the gym membership plunge.

Look around, you're all there for the same purpose (generally speaking).

There's something about knowing you're not doing this alone that is really, really motivating. I know one day, I was on the stairmaster, which gives you a huge birds-eye gym view. I couldn't help but think about how everyone in there--every on their own journey. That body-builder in the corner with the tattoo that says, "I will not fail" on his bulging arm---he's on a journey. That mom who just dropped off her new baby in childcare, she's on her own journey. That elderly man on the bike, reading a magazine leisurely while in khaki's--his own journey. The line of women on the elliptical? It's all their own. But---everyone is there, generally, for the same purpose. For health and wellness and to feel good, and to care for the one body they were given. And THAT is really, really cool.

Classes can be intimidating at first, but it's mostly in your head.

I've now tried out a good handful of classes at my gym, and I have to say---the first one is always a little scary. It's more of a 'what to expect' and 'will I look like an idiot to the frequent-flyers?' The thing is, you just have to get over that. The instructors will help you. Just ask if something isn't clear. Stay towards the back if you're worried and don't want eyes on you.

That being said, I still have a few classes I want to try, but am intimidated by. Baby steps. When you find a class you love, it's okay to stick with it. Right now, my favorite is Ballet Burn. It's a toning and sculpting hour-long class, and I'm sure you're thinking Ohhhh how cuuuute, ballet! But, hold the phone, girl. It's like ballet moves on steroids. And it HURTS SO GOOD the next day. Anyone I bring to that class always says This is No Joke, dude during it and feeling it for days after. It's hard. But so good.

A few cute workout tanks go a long way (in the motivation department).

joke. obvs.
I still don't have a huge collection of workout clothes--but it is growing. The thing is, I realized that if I'm going 4-5 days a week to the gym and let's be honest, end up staying in my gym clothes most days until's okay to invest in some good pieces. Or cute pieces. Tanks and compression capris, or shorts you like, and a few good bras.

I hate spending money on this stuff, but the truth is, I wear them non-stop, so it's actually more valuable than a pretty shirt I wear on a date night once every 3 months, see what I'm sayin'?

And also. When I have something new and fun to wear, sometimes, as pathetic as it may be--it motivates me.

Time flies in classes, and ticks by at a snails pace when you workout alone.

It's true. If I need to get some cardio in I rarely, very rarely will run on the treadmill at the gym anymore. It's mind-numbing and boring, I feel dizzy and irritated and ohmygosh, it's only been 10 minutes?

Doing an hour Zumba* class goes by so.much.faster---is way more fun, and makes me sweat harder than running on the treadmill does anyway.

(*sub for other cardio classes, spin, for example)

Don't be scared of the big guys, just get in there, they'll move over.

I started lifting weights about a month into my membership and I've really come to love it. But, the truth was, it was totally intimidating at first to stand there in the large mirror, lined up with a bunch of humungous dudes, lifting my 10 or 12 pound free weights as they're benching the weight of me. I felt tiny in comparison, and I don't mean my muscles, although those were tiny, too.

I just felt, dumb, really. It took me a few days to just not care anymore. I realized none of them cared, so why should I? In fact, most of them were kind and courteous and moved over when they were taking up double the space they needed. Also, if you hang around long enough, it's not just big body builders lifting weights. Every jo schmo in the gym ends up over there by some point, and so you really don't stand out like a sore thumb as much as you may originally think. It's my journey, no one else's.

Source: via Kiana on Pinterest

Consistency makes it all better.

There is something to be said about being consistent. As soon as I was consistent--for example, attending the same Zumba classes weekly, the same sculpting class, etc, I realized, people started getting to know me. The childcare workers know my kids' names and ages by heart within just a few consistent weeks of us going. The instructors take notice to you in the gym and joke that they better see you in class in 5 minutes. The people at the front desk have the same joke with your children and enjoy seeing them throughout the week.

That really does make it a friendly, welcoming atmosphere--that honestly, comes mostly with being consistent. They see you often, they remember you. It's that simple.

You will be sore, you can still workout.

I am sore after every single class or workout that I do. I don't mean, limping-sore. Or hurt-sore. But like, I got a good workout -sore. I can feel new muscles-sore. It hurts so good-sore. I'm getting stronger-sore. You get me?

I think the temptation is, I'm sore, therefore, I should not workout again until I'm not sore. I just don't think it really works that way. Once your muscles in your body get moving again, you forget about the sore and just enjoy (as much as you can) another workout. Don't let sore muscles keep you from going back. I'm not talking about injury, here. Just to be clear :)

Go with your friends when you can. 

This one is simple. Of course it's more motivating to Zumba (or run, or elliptical) side by side with friends. In the beginning, it helped me so much to know my sister would be there, for example. But now? I don't really care if anyone will be there or not. I just go. Of course, I always have a little more fun when there's a bunch of us there--but honestly, it doesn't change when or if I workout.


Do you agree with any of these? Anyone have the original intimidation factor at the gym like I did? Any classes you want to try but haven't worked up the courage? (Spin is one for me. I'm skurrrred.) Anyone else feel silly lifting weights next to the body builders...? :)

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  1. Love this! You must try spin. I was always scared, too, but it is my favorite and you burn SO many calories. The seat will hurt for about a week, but you get used to it and if the spin instructor has great taste in music, the class is so much fun!! :)

  2. You should definitely give spin a try! Although you will be a bit sore the first number of times you take it after you're good.

    Wish my gym had a Ballet Burn type class.

  3. I love Zumba and there is a great Fitness 101 class at my gym. Not mention a great pump class that will leave you sore every time!

    And I agree with your friend, that "me time" is invaluable! Glad you have discovered the benefits if the gym! :-D

  4. This is all so true! I started regularly going to the gym again in April and I'm loving it. Except I think Emily would cry the whole time in childcare so I have to work out when hubs can watch her!

  5. I am currently motivating hubby to start going to the gym. I sent him this link because I think he would find it helpful :)

  6. I'm a zumba-holic, I took my first class just over a year ago (it took me a good 3 or 4 months just to get the cajones to go) and I absolutely LOVE it ; ) I knew no one at first and was scared to death, now I have a group of zumba buddies I look forward to seeing every wed & sat! Group classes & buddies to be accountable to definitely make the difference to me.

  7. Don't be scared of spin! It's all dark and it's such a "go at your own pace" workout! You'll love it! This entire post makes me miss my gym days so bad!

  8. U took a reslly good step by joining a gym, my mum joined yoga 2.5 yrs back and is really happy not only beacuse it helped her to be fit but also because she hot some tim for herself and to socalize..

    Keep in touch

  9. This is probably going to sound ridiculous and superficial, but I have literally been praying for months that a gym with childcare will open up ANYWHERE NEAR WHERE WE LIVE. I don't understand why there isn't one, and I am desperate for one for all the reasons you mentioned!

    Back pre-children, I used to LOVE spin. But seriously, I felt like I needed a doughnut cushion to sit on for about two weeks, ha!

  10. Katie girl, you always seem to post right to my soul on the days I need it. We (hubs and I) have been going to the gym on a "ten day pass" and finally took the plunge and joined last night. In fact, that was our anniversary gift to each other. As I ran last night, I couldn't help but feel completely overwhelmed and intimidated. Those mirrors? My sweet Lord! This morning, I couldn't help but let those fears sink in and allow myself to question this decision. But then, BAM- your post put my thoughts back on track.

    Don't stop, get it get it, love. And I'll do the same! Thanks for this post.

  11. love this post! i am totes intimidated by the big body builders. spin is my favorite though, you HAVE to try. it's love it or hate it. eek, i am now motivated to make it to my gym and not feel so bad about dragging my little along :)

  12. I do have a little but of intimidation for sure, but it isn't why I do t go to the gym. My kiddo is painfully shy and won't even go I to our church nursery without me. I can't see her going into a gym daycare at this time. Maybe one day! I totally agree about workout clothes though. Even though I only workout at home, cute gym clothes still motivate me!

  13. I have been working out at home although not consistently because I've been scared to join a gym. The first one I looked at I was not impressed with the childcare and now we don't live near a gym with childcare.

    But you have got me re-thinking the gym and even working out. Its all a matter of getting to the mat and doing it, alone at 6 am or together during the day. =)


  14. Don't be afraid of spin. It took me MONTHS of thinking "I want to try it" go actually going every monday. my advice, go early. get the teacher to set you up to the bike and have fun. That hour feels like 10 and it's a great workout.

    I love going into the weight area, the vibe in the room changes when I'm the only girl haha. But yes, it took me 3 months to go from doing just cardio at the gym to doing weights. I was scared!

  15. SPIN! You know how I feel about that.

    Did you take advantage of the free trainer session the Y offers? They will go over the weight machines with you and set you up with a plan and that helped me be far less intimidated when I ventured to the meathead area.

  16. Girl!! Get it! I'm a group fitness instructor, outside of my full time job - and I LOVE getting first timer's in my classes. (and I teach Spin -Please go! It's great - and you can really sculpt the workout to your ability without anyone even noticing!) Instructors are there for YOU, and everyone else, we want to help so much! So don't be afraid! Get it!!

  17. Yep. To all of these, yep.

    Except lifting weights. I still can't do it. I prefer to go to Body Pump for my weight lifting needs.

    Oh and a bit of advice, don't try Power Yoga the day after you do Body Pump for the first time. Because I totally did that today and, well, owwww. I was STRUGGLING. But? I was there.

    I'm already trying to think creatively about how to continue getting to the gym just as often when school starts.

  18. I agree with every part of this. Except-I don't like running with other people. The trying a class thing? Yeah I keep making excuses. The last one I made was the best though, 'oh I'll just buy a new workout outfit and then I'll try that PiYo class.' Bought the outit 2 weeks ago and still haven't tried the class.

    Spin looks so scary.

  19. You have hit the nail on the head! When I started going to Zumba 3 times a week, eventually I found that I wouldn't feel sore after class. I would do everything high intensity but still feel the same. What is your take on it? I'm still sweating and getting a great workout but I'm the kinda girl that NEEDS that gratification of being sore. Weird, I know.

    Also, I was a member of the YMCA but they changed ownership. It was only open til 8 every night. Now, I'm a member of Lifetime (it's basically a small city... It's also massive). They are open 24 hours. I don't know why but I had this idea in my head that I HAD TO go to the gym in the mornings and I would go and be sooooo drained the rest of the day. And it wasn't early, it was at like 9 or so. Then one night I was up and had a lot of energy so I decided to go and I enjoyed it so much more. And? I wouldn't be tired the rest of the day! Win win!

    Okay, sorry I just wrote you a novel but I love when you write about inspiring stuff like this! :)

  20. Just now reading this. So true! Especially the class intimidation. The first time I ever did Zumba, my instructor was so sweet and asked me to start out in the front of the class so I can just focus on her and get the moves down. I was TERRIFIED! But, I moved passed it and am so thankful she helped me take the plunge. I love Zumba now!

    And for spin class - DO IT! It's amazing! You control your intensity, too. I wish my gym's spin class fit better into my schedule, though. :(