Last week Katie J was talking about her hiatus from the gym...and it sparked the old fire in my brain. I tried to think back to when I was a gym newbie and tried to recall how I felt. Was I nervous? Was I intimidated? Did I fear that people were judging me because of my size?
Well, the answer is this....
There is something to be said for being a legend in your own mind. My foreray into gym-dom was in my late teens, early 20's I would guess. I lost about 75 pounds (not to worry, I would eventually gain it back plus 70 more), by diet and going to the YMCA. I remember killing it on the cardio machines. And I don't really remember caring or thinking that others were judging me. I probably thought I was a plus-sized gym super model. But, as I think about it, I don't remember ever working much in the free weight section. I stuck to the weight machines.
And then after the lapband, that's when I started bootcamp. Little did I know that I was being lured there by a cute little lesbian that would turn that bootcamp into a lifelong commitment. I DO remember being intimidated by that setting a little. Because I knew there would be some form of running, and mama hadn't ran in years. But I got over it and I survived. And then what was new and scary became a habit...and wasn't scary at all.
The point of all of this reflection is that if you are avoiding the gym for fear of judgement, fear of looking out of place, or fear of dying...here's what you should know.
1. People are probably judging your fashion sense more than your size or shape. At least I am. If you are killing it and working it out in the gym, it will be a rare person that is thinking about how you are "out of shape", or "too fat", or "too old". They will most likely be admiring your determination. Some of them will be wishing they had what you had. This is the truth.
2. The really fit people at the gym aren't plodding away on the dreadmill thinking that they are better than you. Well, some of them might be. But they are stupid and thus, you are better than them. Their opinions don't matter. But take Heather. I have never once heard her make a snarky comment about any out-of-shape-but-working-on-getting-in-shape person. On the other hand, I have heard her make plenty of comments about the IN shape people walking around like douchebags.
3. It's only new for a few days. One of the scariest things about any situation is not knowing the logistics of the gym or class. Where do I go? What do I do when I get there? What is protocol? After a few days you will know what's where and who's what. On your first day, just walk in like you have been there a million times. Walk to the bathroom, scanning the space like a covert secret agent. You will feel like everyone knows you are new. I bet half of them feel the same way as you.
4. If you don't know what to do with the machines or weights, do something you DO know how to do...then watch. So walk on the treadmill. Do the elliptical. And just take it all in.
5. Free weights are particularly scary for a lot of women, because a lot of women don't DO free weights. It's a damn shame. But the free weight section, the Smith machines, the weight racks are usually dominated by men...which can be intimidating as well. Just rest assured that at least 33% of the men are probably gay...so they aren't looking at you anyways. Also, I feel that by venturing into the free weight section, you automatically earn gym cred from men AND women. But, there are so many good magazines and books out there to look at and study BEFORE you even step foot into the gym. I used to love the magazines Oxygen and Muscle & Fitness Hers. They come with great workouts and pictures. You can also buy books about lifting on Amazon. I love this series:
6. A personal trainer may be a great investment. Find one you like. Find one that targets what you want. Trainers can be expensive, but they can also be a motivator. They can help you until you feel comfortable on your own.
7. Gyms may not be your thing. Maybe you are motivated to do videos (I certainly am not...it's too easy to quit when I am in my own living room). Maybe you want to shake it at Zumba. Regardless, having a workout buddy or partner is such a plus. If you can find a good workout buddy, lock them down.
8. I know some of you are not morning people. But damn...it makes a difference. And let me tell you, the gym is a lot less crowded at 5am than it is at 5pm. And for me, if I wait until after work to workout, that workout is probably not happening.
9. Make the time. We often find time for the things we enjoy or hold the most importance in our lives. We find time to watch the DVR, take a nap, read blogs, etc. Make time to workout. I like to combine my cardio with a little Netflix or HBOgo. I take my iphone or ipad to the gym, get on Wi-Fi, and what my favorite programs. It makes the time go by at a little faster nip.
10. When you are at the gym, just ACT like you know what in the hell you are doing. It works for me most of the time. And there are times that I try a new "move" or workout and I know right off the bat that I have no clue what I am doing and did not practice at home enough. But I'll be damned...I usually finish my set and walk off like a boss.
Working out is like eating better. You know how when you are onpoint with your eating...even for just 1 day...you feel like you are super fine? That's what working out will do for you as well! And..this is what else keeps me motivated...the more you can workout, the more conditioned your body, the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn...
The more calories you can eat without blowing the seams out of your pants.
I mean...I know that's not the main point...
But it's a nice perk!
Happy Tuesday Dudes!