Reality check: at the gym, nobody cares about you

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Monday, June 27, 2016

So I went to the gym this morning.

At last. At last I had a full workout. I feel awesome right now. Truly I missed it.

I moved to a new city on June 4th, a Saturday. I started my new job two days later (June 6th). The next day, I took a long walk around town, visited the library to make my address change, and ended the walk with a visit to the gym to get a membership.

It didn't go well. I knew there'd be a lot of people since it's the only gym in town and it was around 6:30 in the evening, but it was crowded. There was very very loud music playing, and the members didn't look like the kind of person I was used to in my old gym. (Quiet 40+ people, and this was a crowd of young buffs in their twenties.) The girl at the counter was completely clueless when I said I wanted to get a yearly membership, and I ended up paying for the whole year then and there instead of making monthly payments like their Facebook page promised you could do.

It was a frustrating experience and it shaped my whole vision of the gym for the following weeks. I wanted to go the next morning but I skipped. I was scared. I went on the Thursday morning instead, and I was completely overwhelmed. There was a sign in the bathroom asking members not to dispose of needles in the trashcan. I thought to myself... needles? Are people here using steroids?! There were two women in the changing room - young, fit, slim, with perfect hair and makeup, while I was there, barely out of bed, after gaining a bit of weight, tired and cranky. (I'm now laughing about it, but back then it was horrible.)

I ran for fifteen minutes and left. I was too scared to check out the strength training section. I walked back home and I felt ashamed. I was such a gym rat before I moved, I loved it, I'd never skip a session, I made friends with the morning regulars. Now what?!

I went once the week after that. This time I did some strength training. But the environment was so unfamiliar, I felt clumsy and awkward. There's no real open space for dumbbell training so I felt like I was in the way standing between two benches. I couldn't find half the equipment I needed, and I was intimidated by the other members even though no one even looked at me or gave me any kind of attention. I was pressuring myself into being back at it perfectly right away even though NOTHING was the same. After a short frustrating workout I left.

The next week (last week) I didn't go at all. I wanted to, kinda, but... I slept in. The start of the week was tough, and the last half even tougher as my boyfriend left for two weeks and suddenly I was left alone still feeling a bit lost. My gym clothes were piled up neatly ready to be put on, and I'd feel ashamed again when I got up after an hour of snoozing and saw them waiting for me.

Then I read Zen Habits' article about making your own story (see my last blog). I read it, and read it again, and it's been on my mind all weekend.

I didn't make good choices either last weekend. Friday was the Quebec national holiday which I decided to celebrate with poutine. I made it at home with oven fries, homemade gravy and pizza mozzarella since I couldn't find cheese curds anywhere. It was pretty good and I enjoyed every bite. No shame there.

Then I went to see the races at the race track with a new friend of mine (a German intern at a big farm of the area, he's here until October). It was a lot of fun - I had two beers, and he got himself some pizza and really insisted I have some. Normally I'd have no trouble saying no since I wasn't hungry, and I practiced it a lot since starting Lean Habits almost a year ago, but... something inside of me cracked, it was the first time we were hanging out just the two of us, and I felt he'd be offended if I said no, so I took what he offered and ate it. It wasn't a ton, but it was still completely unnecessary since I wasn't hungry.

Then Saturday happened. I felt tired and lazy, and even though I got some things done at home, I spent most of the day reading, watching a TV show, and... eating. I kinda snacked and I ate junk food all day. I felt too lazy to cook for some reason, so I had poutine AGAIN for lunch (and barely gave it any attention since I ate it while reading my book) and for supper I had... fries. That's it. I then had a ton of beer by myself while watching a new serie and went to bed past midnight.

Sunday morning I decided I had no energy to waste on being ashamed. I made choices, they were wrong, I'm moving on. I started my day with cleaning the whole apartment. We received our new vacuum cleaner Friday, a Dyson (the model for pet hair), so after cleaning the bathroom and dusting I could try it for the first time. I fell in love with it! And the apartment looked so much better. We didn't have a vacuum before so it'd only been swept, and the area rug in the living room was looking miserable before I vacuumed it. That was a solid half an hour of hard work - I was sweaty when I was done. I forgot how much vacuuming makes me sweat lol.

Ensued a long Skype conversation with my boyfriend, that was fun, and then I had lunch and went for a half an hour bike ride around town. We've had nasty weather for days now so it was cloudy and windy, but not enough to ruin it.

When I came back I had a few hours before another Skype session with a friend so I sat down and thought. I thought about the article I read and the story I was telling myself. I acknowledged the fact that the new gym was scary because it's different, the fact that I was categorizing the members I'd seen the same way I was scared they'd categorize me. I acknowledged that I needed to go back to my routine at last and to make a habit out of it again. I acknowledged that it SUCKS that I lost this habit when I moved, but that I couldn't go back in time to fix it, so the only solution was to go back at it ASAP until it became natural again.

After that, I felt at peace. I made some red beans taco filling with a ton of veggies for supper, Skyped for two hours with my friend, and ended the evening with a cup of tea and a new book.

My alarm rang at 5:30 this morning, like it had done so many times in the previous weeks. But this time I didn't snooze, I didn't set it to 6:30 and went back to sleep. It was tempting, sure. My first thoughts of "but I'm tired", "but I don't wanna" hit my brain first, as usual. I brushed them away. I told myself: I don't care, you're going. Those are silly excuses. You promised yourself. Keep your promise.

I put my gym clothes on, prepared my water bottle, and left. I walked to the gym (it's about 7-8 minutes). When I got close I started getting nervous again. I acknowledged that I was nervous and scared, but I didn't let it make me turn around. I could still hear my bed calling me. "If you turn around now it's fine, you went that far, it's better than nothing", my brain was saying, but I ignored it. Turning around ten feet from the gym door felt like a worse failure than staying in bed.

I entered, took my shoes off, scanned my card (and struggled with it as usual, but this time I laughed about it instead of being embarrassed). Went to the changing room, prepared, and went straight to strength training. This time I made use of the wide open room at the back of the gym to do my dumbbell and pushup exercises, and used other machines for the rest - back extensions, pull-downs, and diagonal pull-ups in the cage. Then I did some intervals on the treadmill, and left.

On my way home I thought about the whole experience. I finally did a whole workout (from my Lift Like A Girl program), and it felt great. I dared using the machines and equipment and being with the others and not hiding. And guess what, once again nobody gave me an ounce of attention. Nobody cared, because they were like me - doing their thing.

I also noticed different members. I saw the usual young buff guys, but also two women in their 50's and a man in his 40's. I don't know why but this comforted me, maybe because all my gym buddies at the old one were in that age range. I even smiled to a couple of them and nodded to the man when I went to use a machine next to his.

I got home very hungry, tried a new savoury breakfast (a disaster, but hey, I tried lol) and got ready for work. I know I'll be sore tomorrow - and the rest of the week as I go back to regular gym sessions, which my body isn't used to anymore after a three weeks break. But I'm fine with that. I actually like the soreness, unless it makes it uncomfortable to walk or sit, which has happened before when I had a crazy trainer who didn't respect my limits.

I'm already excited for Wednesday morning, and a little nervous about Friday, which is my non-set day (with few reps of very heavy lifting) where I'll have to mingle with the younger crowd at the barbell and dumbbell area. But hey, if they keep on not caring about me, it's all fine lol!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • DOGZMOM1031
    Totally feel you.About 2 months ago I rejoined a gym I went to several years ago, and I still haven't been there to work out....Afraid the people will be different, the machines will be different, afraid I will have forgotten how to use the machines and look silly doing something wrong, etc. You are inspiring me to suck it up and just go! emoticon
    1799 days ago
  • GEORGIA171
    1806 days ago
    I was very nervous returning to the gym when I was obese. I feared people's criticism. I learned like you that no one really cares what you look like. They are intent on doing their own exercise. Good for you overcoming your fears and making your needs important!

    1807 days ago
    emoticon I'm still losing this battle but I'll recommit tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration.
    1809 days ago
  • no profile photo APPLEGREENGIRL
    Well done! Good for you :)
    1809 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    Also. There is a law re gym contracts that would apply within the first days. Not binding ! Even if the front desk girl was a bimbo. You may still be entitled to a redo and refund. She might have given you a day pass too. Makes me mad that gyms do th
    1809 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    On the poutine.,,I'm an ex Montrealer but don't touch that stuff. You've moved, everything is new... New job new gym. Done it . Been there. It takes time but I avoid my gym after work. Too many jerks hogging the machines. Go early, do your thing, ...
    1809 days ago
    :) Ohhhh the stresses we go through. lol
    Congrats on conquering yourself! That's amazing!

    I like the quote I saw on Pintrest recently:

    "I am my problem. But I am ALSO my SOLUTION."

    1809 days ago
    Good for you!!! Great job!
    1810 days ago
    You conquered your fear and moved forwards. Good for you!
    1810 days ago
    You will make it as you are a winner
    1810 days ago
  • MISSM66
    I am so happy we have our own private gym, I can go in any time I also have the privilege to walk on the beach when the tide is low. but since you pay for the just continue to go and enjoy all what you do, you will be happy that you did, emoticon emoticon
    1811 days ago
    Well done. Just keep going. New things and places are always a bit scary.
    1811 days ago
    emoticon So Glad to read this today!! Congratulations on getting in the door. That is L ways the Hardest step, no matter how good the Gym might be.
    1811 days ago
    1811 days ago
  • LPACE1049
    We have 3-4 gyms in our town. I went to one and it was so noisy because not enough room and classes, machines and weight room was all in small area. Changed and I have found my home. Varied ages, sizes, health, the weight room and the machine room are separated by the bathrooms, office and tanning beds. The music played in each side is not so loud that you cannot hear when you want to listen to your own ( or as I do, watch my Netflix while on the treadmill....if I finish before the movie and there is no one waiting, I start over till it is finished). Every one is friendly and helpful. Buy you are so right about one thing, we all are there because we are caring for ourselves, our health and if no one ever talks with you, you still have to take care of yourself.
    1812 days ago
  • no profile photo CD10748384
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1812 days ago
    Way to go, you concurred your fear of the unfamiliar.
    1812 days ago
  • ALP1976
    You know, I remember being SO intimidated when I joined my current gym after leaving the Y. It seemed to have more of the "bros" and people seemed ... just different ... it took me awhile to build up the courage to jump into things and get over my fears. It really is true, we go in so self conscious but the reality of it all is no one really cares! Good for you to get in and do your thing! I bet it feels awesome to be *back*!!
    1813 days ago
    I don't go to the gym anymore because a male member touched my privates and then he had the nerve to come to my apartment. He insisted and I kept saying no. I am happier walking at the park and my Leslie DVDs.
    1813 days ago
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