Walking back into the gym after a long absence is hard. Walking back into the gym when I used to be a regular fixture is harder. Walking back into the gym after having gained noticeable weight, for me, is the hardest.
Not everyone is going to feel the same as I do. Some of you pop in and out of the gym, mind your business and go home. I’ve always been a no nonsense type of gym person myself. I’ve got my music blasting through my headphones; I’m working solo or paired up with an occasional friend.
But no matter how solitary you are in your workouts, many of you have probably felt, as I have, a bond grows between you and your regular gym mates.
You grow familiar. You start to smile in passing. You ask if a machine is being used. You ask people how many more sets they have left; they ask you as well. Before you know it, you feel a part of a community.
They become the people you see every day after work. You watch each other’s progress and give compliments when things are progressing well. You groan as you hold weights and prepare for your walking lunges and they nod their head in agreement. We are tired, but we’re in this together. That’s the message.
Sometimes, you even become an inspiration to others.
I’ve had women tell me that they check out my workouts so that they might emulate me and achieve my results. I’ve had friends ask to accompany me to the gym in order to teach them what’s best. I’ve watched friends move from novices to one becoming a trainer and another training for a triathlon.
And yet, consistency has always been a battle for me, and this past year has been no different in that respect. But it has been different in the amount of time that I let pass by before really doing something about it. Within the past 6 months, I have stepped foot in the gym maybe 3 times. I used to go to the gym 4, 5, 6 days a week.
I’m not recommending this to everybody. I loved being at the gym, though getting there was often difficult. It’s where I felt most healthy, energized, sexy and strong. It’s the battleground where I pushed myself. It was a big part of my sense of community.
But I dropped the ball. I was busy with new endeavors and then laziness kicked in, as it loves to do. 3 days. That’s what it takes for your body to start letting go of the progress you’ve made. Previously, my longest gymless record was 3 months, so this has been especially bad.
In order to combat my feeling like my body is simply a sack of low energy, I got a bike. First I rode once a day in the mornings before work, but once I started feeling reinvigorated, I started riding twice a day in the early mornings and late evenings. It feels amazing, and I get the gift of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. If you’d like to know more about my bike riding adventures, check out my ongoing series Impressions While Riding My Bike in the fitness category starting here.
Still, for as much as I love my bike and the results it’s been giving me, I felt like something was missing.
I missed the gym. I missed the adding more weight, the flexing my triceps in the mirror, the seeing my muscles develop, the encouragement and inspiration. So I’m heading back in!
If you have gone through this yourself, you already know how I feel. But if not, embarrassed, hesitant and disappointed.
I feel embarrassed that I didn’t take control sooner and that everyone will be able to see the result. I feel hesitant about not being able to do what I previously could do. What will I be able to curl? How much weight can I now deadlift? Just how gone is my endurance? Every time I do some physical exertion that winds me, I’m disappointed to think that I could do double or triple it previously.
But who wants to live in the past? If I choose to visit the past, it will be the parts that offer positive memories. It will be the times that remind me of what I’m capable of.
So bearing that in mind, I met my friend at her gym (yes, I wasn’t ready to head back to my own gym just yet. Being honest here) and together we took a spinning class, my first one ever. Everyone told me that my legs would be in woeful pain the next day, but I actually think that my regular bike riding prepared me. The next day I felt no pain in my legs, though I pushed harder than I had in a long time.
What they don’t tell you is that your vagina will hurt. The funny thing is it took me a few hours to put the cause and effect of the two events together. I ate so much yogurt before I realized the pain was from spinning. My friend reassures me that my va-jay-jay will get used to it and toughen up like that’s supposed to be the good news?!
Then, I had another first. My friend and I– she is also making her way back– went to a workout class. I would previously never step foot in a workout class unless it was yoga. But there we were. What brought us there? Our spinning instructor recommended we try the full body workout class that she also teaches.
We both expected it to be easy. We are veterans after all and classes are for newbies, right? So we both grabbed 8 pound weights, lamenting the fact that there were no 10lbs. Within two minutes of the warm up, we were dying. Our instructor emphasized that everyone should have 2.5lbs in each hand. We look at each other and smirk. We walk to the weight rack and grab 5lbs. Another 10 minutes and the instructor again “reminds” us that we should all be holding 2.5lbs. I blush and walk back to the rack for lighter weights. She was right from the start. My form was getting thrown off with the heavier weights and the burn was just too much to get through each set perfectly. Perfect is always better than heavier.
Another 10 minutes and the instructor again “reminds” us that we should all be holding 2.5lbs. I blush and walk back to the rack for lighter weights. She was right from the start. My form was getting thrown off with the heavier weights and the burn was just too much to get through each set perfectly. Perfect is always better than heavier.
By the end, I was covered in sweat, and I felt strong and accomplished. The push from someone outside of myself was the right thing at the right time. We even did some extra ab workouts before leaving the gym.
So there you have it. I’ve put my intentions out into the universe. My mission is bigger now. I want to motivate and encourage all of you out there who are going through a similar experience of journeying back to fitness to join me in my journey and share yours as well. We can all use a bit of inspiration.
Becoming a regular bike rider has made me realize that there are so many possible ways of getting fit that may prove enjoyable, so now I’m feeling the itch to try out some new workouts and see how my body reacts. And of course, I’ll be sharing them all with you here.
Sidenote: The next parts of this series will not be so long. I had to do introductions this time around, get you all caught up since I slacked on posting this. Hey, I’m not perfect!
Tell me, have you had any fitness dry spells and how did you manage to get back on the wagon? What are favorite ways to stay fit? If you’ve never really worked out before, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear your stories!
My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to live a more interesting, fulfilling and beautiful life. Think of me as your well-being and happiness coach. I know that things aren’t always easy. Life doesn’t drop dreams into our laps, but every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?