Back in the Gym

me_swimmingI am an athlete. Regardless of whether I’m on any sort of team, regardless of whether I’ve practiced recently, and regardless of the fact that I haven’t been in a pool in months, I will always call myself an athlete. I have the mentality that comes from twelve years of swimming. It’s the attitude and the drive and the determination that can only come from practicing six days a week, two, three, four, or five hours a day for half of your life.

So when I stopped working out for about six months straight, I started going crazy. Not at first- at first I enjoyed myself and my free time. I had just moved in to my new apartment, I was living in a new place, trying new things, hanging out with my boyfriend, meeting new people. I was starting a new job, which was stressful. I thought I was too busy to go to a gym after work, because after working all day, then cooking and eating dinner and cleaning up afterwords, when would I have time to unwind if I tried to throw a workout in the mix?

So for six months, I chose to relax. Looking back, I probably watched too much dumb TV and drank too much wine. But I enjoyed it for a time. I slowly started to feel sluggish though. I felt winded going up two flights of stairs. I felt slow and tired and saggy, if you will. My weight was the same, I generally looked the same as I always had, but I felt terrible about myself.

So starting in January, I bit the financial bullet and joined a gym. I made sure it was a gym I could walk to, that was open at the times when I needed it to be open. And I signed up for three months of personal training.

Joining a new gym can be intimidating. Especially when you’re by yourself. I know how to lift and how to use a treadmill and an elliptical, but when I walk into a new gym, I’m suddenly worried that I’m not doing it right and everyone is watching me. I’m worried that there is some unspoken code or etiquette for this gym that I might not be following. I’m worried that I’ll be be the only girl using free weights and the guys will try to keep all the weights and benches to themselves.

So not only was I new and intimidated, but I was also out of practice. I needed someone to motivate me. Someone to get me in the gym, show me around, and push me to get my strength back. I wanted a reason to go and a goal to achieve.

I worked with my personal trainer, Marissa, once a week for twelve weeks. Sometimes she had me do things that I had done for swimming, but mostly it was new. Marissa had a new style and a fast pace that I had to get used to.

The hardest part for me was choosing to do the work and choosing to do it well. When I swam, I loved it. That’s why I was on the team. But I didn’t love it 100% of the time. There were some days when I didn’t feel like working as hard and other days when I could have put more effort in, but decided to chat with my friends instead. I showed up because my coaches told me I had to. No one told me I had to get a personal trainer. No one told me I had to start working out and get stronger. I decided that all on my own and that was a huge difference and a major shift in my mentality. When I went to each training session, I went because I had chosen to. When the workout was hard and my legs were shaking from the effort, I told myself that I chose that. I wanted that. I could quit and not do all the reps because it was too hard, but then what would be the point?

I loved working with Marissa because she recognized that in me. She pushed me harder than I have ever worked in a gym. And after about six weeks, I actually did start to see results. I did feel stronger. I came home from every workout exhausted, and I was sore for days after each one, but it felt amazing.

The best part is that I’m motivated now. This was more than getting from point A to point B, it was actually a lifestyle change. I found that I do have enough time after work to cook, clean up, go to the gym, shower, have a glass of wine and watch one TV show. (Okay, sometimes I fall asleep during the show.) I make it work. I also found that I love it. On the days that I don’t go to the gym, I feel like I’m missing something or forgetting something important.

Now I’ve started going to group fitness classes and found some friends who go to the same gym. Working out is becoming fun again. I’m strong and happy, and now I feel like the athlete I know I am.

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