I did it.
Today, I did what I swore for years I would never do.
Today, I bought a gym membership. And signed a contract. For one year. And paid money (or a small piece of my soul) to have several sessions with a personal trainer.
I know. I must be out of my fucking mind.
I hate gyms. I’ve always hated gyms and the culture of organized fitness clubs. I find the atmosphere in these places to be very intimidating, shallow, competitive and judgey. I’ve mentioned this before in previous posts, but I will say it again….it does not motivate me or make me feel good to work out next to a person wearing panty shorts and a sports bra. Or a guy who looks like He-Man on steroids and refuses to put on a shirt.
While I can appreciate the hard work it takes to maintain that level of physical fitness, and I can admit to a small amount of envy for my own lack of mental strength and stick-to-it-ness in achieving my own fitness goals, it’s more the flaunting of flesh and show-boating that turns me off. It’s the fact that the gym is as much of a meat market and pick up joint as any trendy Hollywood club. It’s the cancerous feeling that screams if you don’t look like this, something is wrong with you and not the culture these attitudes create. (And for the record, I have several really fit, attractive friends who work out in gyms regularly and they admit this environment is also a turn off for them as well, so I’m not just making this shit up, folks).
Anyway, although I prefer to work out at home, that hasn’t been working out too well for me. It’s too easy for me to find a thousand excuses to put it off because I have so many other things that need to get done. I don’t have any real accountability, and I’m sick of feeling like a big, fat cow. I’ve been holding onto this baby weight for too long and its aging me. I feel it in the slowness of my steps and the daily fatigue that is not commensurate with my activity levels.
So at my husband’s suggestion, off to the gym we went. We took both kids and had an appointment to take a tour. Dan chose an upscale, popular gym in our area that has several amenities he thought would appeal to me. Amenities that make this gym feel more like a resort than just a fitness club. There’s a restaurant/café and day spa on the premises in addition to the pools, basketball courts, group exercise rooms, daycare, and equipment areas. There is also a women’s only workout room, which Dan thought I would really like.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the gym. There were a lot of middle age to older people working out and most of the clientele were dressed in appropriate workout gear. And it turns out that this gym has rules with regard to how you’re allowed to dress in the public areas of the club. There was a whole list of ‘gym etiquette’ rules the sales rep gave us to review that had my head spinning and challenging all my preconceptions about what this gym experience would entail. (Most of you probably already knew many gyms did that, but I’m the ignorant one because I’ve refused to step foot in a fitness club for years).
I began to feel hopeful that maybe this could work. Maybe I could actually join a gym and not feel like Martha Dump-Truck working out in my baggy t-shirt and sweats. Maybe there would be real people working out next to me, and not caricatures of Ken and Barbie, and I would feel supported in my efforts to lose weight and be healthy instead of judged and laughed at for being the only person in the room who doesn’t have a clue how to use a spin cycle.
We also met with the personal training director, and he was incredibly attentive and considerate toward my concerns with working out with a trainer. I admitted that I need someone with experience to help me set up a fitness plan and check in with me every month so I can keep moving in the right direction. I need someone to push me and kick my ass a little. But I adamantly explained that I had no interest in working out with a 25 year old that had never had kids and had no personal experience with how the body changes in middle age after having children. Again, he totally understood and said he had a few trainers he thought would work really well for me.
I was shocked! I couldn’t believe that this could be so simple. That I can have a trainer who is a middle-aged woman with kids, and understands how the body changes after advanced maternal age pregnancy, and I don’t have to work out next to Adam Ab-Crusher is more than I could have hoped for!
Until……I toured the women’s locker room. Sigh.
I guess it was too much to expect that everything would be perfect. The locker room was as nice and well-appointed as any locker room at a high end spa. It was clean, beautifully decorated with a state of the art steam room, sauna, private whirlpool in the room for women only and curtained changing areas to protect your modesty, if you care about that sort of thing. What I found shocking on this part of the tour was how many women didn’t care about that. Their modesty, that is.
To quote my friend Stacia, who is intimately familiar with gym locker rooms, the atmosphere is very “YWCA circa 1964.” All the younger women were decently covered with towels or their clothing. However, most of the older women were strolling around naked from head to toe, with the only towel they had wrapped around their head. Bryn was with me on the tour and she got quite an eyeful. To her credit, she kept her composure and didn’t say anything to reveal how embarrassed she was. It was a lot of National Geographic style boobies and gray pubes on display for everyone to see. Now, I was raised to appreciate my body and not be ashamed of it, but I was also raised to have a sense of modesty in the presence of others. These women had no problem being stark naked in front of complete strangers! While I could never do that, no matter how good I looked, I would still kill for that kind of confidence!
So, the upside to all this is that I don’t have to work out next to someone wearing panty shorts and a sports bra, and I get to have a trainer who will understand my body and how to help me change it. The downside is that I have to share a locker room with naked grannies who like to rock what they’ve got.
LOL! Wish me luck!