One year ago, I joined a local gym a little less than a mile from my apartment. One of my goals for the new year had been to start getting back into shape, so I found a gym that I liked that included fitness classes and I signed myself up. I figured if there was $40 being taken out of my bank account every month, I would force myself to go.
One year later, I’m proud to say that I’m still going.
I used to be a swimmer, a Division 1 athlete. I was in the best shape of my life in college. After I stopped swimming, graduated, then eventually moved out of my parents’ house, I found it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to work out. I had moved into a trendy city neighborhood with my boyfriend and had just started a new job towards the end of 2013. My focus was on spending time with Jim, trying out new restaurants, learning more about my job, and watching a little bit of Netflix. Okay, a lot of Netflix.
I told myself that I would go for a run after work – and it was free! Except I didn’t. Once the weather got cold, and then extremely cold, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t make myself exercise on my own. I hated myself for that. After all the years spent jumping in a cold pool at 5:00 AM, how could I not just go for a run? I swam 20 hours a week while studying full time, why was it so difficult to do some abs after work?
Joining the gym altered my life. Because otherwise, I might have a few more seasons of Friends under my belt and I might have actually been to all the restaurants on my list of places to try. But I would have felt terrible sitting around on the couch all night, and I would’ve hated myself even more for giving up.
I was one of “those people” in the gym last January – the ones who join because of the gym’s New Year incentives and my own New Year’s resolution. “Those people” are the ones who flock to the treadmills and ellipticals all through the first month of the year then gradually, you see them less and less until finally they stop coming. About 80% of people who sign up for gym memberships in January drop off by the second week of February. I didn’t want to be one of those 80%.
So instead of trying to motivate myself to come to the gym once I had the membership, I actually signed up for a few months of personal training. I decided that I couldn’t get back into shape on my own after having a coach and teammates there for me my whole life. My personal trainer, Marissa, was fantastic. She was motivating and encouraging, and she pushed me harder than I’d ever worked in my life, at least in a gym. After just a few weeks, I felt stronger and more confident about working out.
When my three months of training were up, I grabbed some friends and we did group training sessions with Marissa throughout the summer. Now I had a gym, a trainer, and friends to work out with.
Of course, personal training is expensive and it’s not for everyone. I was lucky I was able to afford the sessions for as long as I could. But I know that deep down, I’m a hard-working, dedicated, and motivated individual, otherwise I never would have made it through all those morning practices. Once I got back into shape and I got into a routine, I knew I could keep myself going.
It’s been a year since I joined the gym. I’m able to work out about three to four times per week, and I walk the 15 minutes to get there, which adds some extra time and mileage to my workouts. I enjoy fitness classes like spinning, kickboxing, and abs. I love pushing myself on the treadmill and adding weight to the bench press. I love feeling sore the day after a hard lift because I know that I’m getting stronger.
It would have been easier to relax on the couch and keep watching Netflix. It would have been more interesting to try a new restaurant every week. But I wouldn’t have felt as accomplished and energized as I do now when I come home from the gym.