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 one....is 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).
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.
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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