It doesn’t take much but gumption to head to the gym!
It’s not something I like to admit, but I’ve been intimidated all of my adult life by the thought of joining a gym. Yikes! I would never fit in with all those svelte young babes in designer sportswear and bronzed gods with bulging biceps pumping weights like they’re lifting pencils. In my mind’s eye, they’d be parading around in a glitzy torture chamber full of scary equipment with blaring music and banks of TV screens full of clashing programs. And laughing at me for not having a clue what to do.
But after my hip replacement surgery in June 2012, and in my quest to lose weight, the value of regular exercise has become very apparent. So when I got back from vacation and found a discount leaflet for a gym not far from home, I bit the bullet and signed up.
Much to my surprise, things at the gym are very different than I expected. Sure, the stereotypes are there, doing the stereotypical things. But there are plenty of us there in generic leggings and our favorite well-worn t-shirts breaking a sweat and getting on with it. And while I’m not the youngest on the elliptical trainer, I’m certainly not the oldest.
I’ve been crazy-busy for two weeks and yesterday was my first time at the gym for a week. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew it was going to be hard. And it was. But it was also amazing.
A woman my age suddenly said, “Keep up the good work.”
And so I remembered just how great it feels to make it through when you’re dreading it. And then things got even better!
One of the bronzed gods said, “I wish my mom could do what you’re doing.”
Now I wasn’t doing anything spectacular. Just some squats, stability ball crunches, bridges, stuff like that. He told me that he’s had his eye on me for a while and notices how I always work to get better. He said his mom needs to lose weight and get healthy – and that he’s worried about her. I told him that his mom could certainly do what I do if she started from scratch the way I did. I suggested that he share his concerns with her gently, and maybe offer to go walking together to get her started. Perhaps he will. But he made me feel great by seeing me (of all people!) as an example. So I also told him his mom might like to read our blog.
An elderly gentleman told me quite firmly, “You need to hear the compliment.”
I had been on the leg press machine – the source of today’s sore muscles – pressing 77 pounds with my arthritic left leg and 165 pounds with both legs. When I was coming off, the man told me that it was great, and that this could be a tough machine for women because of the pelvis/hip construction. He said a couple of times how impressed he was. I told him I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet, that I was still building things up, and blah, blah, blah. He took me very kindly by the shoulders and said, “You need to hear the compliment. We often don’t hear it when people praise us.” And of course he was absolutely right. It nearly brought me to tears, and I thanked him for the compliment – and for re-teaching me this lesson.
And then there was a bonus: Fly, heron, fly!
In a fluke of nature, and originally aided by humans, Amsterdam has become home to hundreds of rose-ringed parakeets. And as I stood by the window gathering my gear for the journey home I saw a whole flock of them chasing a heron across the sky. It was a mad, angry pursuit and it went on until they were out of view with the parakeets never giving up. It was a spectacular sight and made me realize I need to be a bit more persistent in working on my goals. Wonder if the heron learned any life lessons?
If the movie in your mind is keeping you out of the gym, I’d say switch to a different film. One that shows you doing your thing and feeling great about it!