I confess – I didn’t always like the gym. In fact I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it since the first time I got myself a gym membership in my first year of uni. That first gym – I think I went to it twice. Ashamed by how beetroot red I turned after just minutes on the treadmill and too embarrassed to ask for help when I didn’t know how to do things, I just stopped going. What a plonker!
A few years later I joined a fancy expensive gym, pre-paying for a full year in advance at a discounted rate. This time I thought, ‘I will definitely come here because otherwise it is money down the drain.’ It really was money down the drain; I didn’t even do one workout there! It was utterly shameful. I have no defence.
Finally, in 2010, I joined another gym and since then I can honestly say that my on/off relationship with the gym has been a lot more ON that is has been OFF. At last!
As a woman who wasn’t born with an athletic fibre in her body but who has, over time, learned to love the gym (most of the time), here are my gym confessions…
I’m really rubbish at some things.
In the early days I experimented with a multitude of fitness classes, usually with the BFF at my side.
There was the terrible step aerobics class that proved once and for all that I have ZERO balance. Even the instructor was laughing at me by the end of the class. I doubt she’s ever seen anyone step the wrong way quite so many times to this day. Step is definitely not my forte!
A while later there was the excruciatingly painful Abs Blast experience. Run by an ex-army sergeant this would have been harrowing enough as it was, but being the fools that we are we also to decided to turn up to this class early one Saturday morning after a late Friday night lock-in at the pub, with not many hours sleep in between. It was like torture in active wear. Never, ever again!
Then there was spinning which turned out to be much more successful. So successful in fact that it became a regular thing for quite a long time. One highlight from our spinning era was the class led by the shiny, muscular, Lycra-clad male Britney wannabe who proudly sang his heart out every single class as he led us through the session. It was like being spurred on to spin by the unexpected love child of The Hulk and Kylie Minogue. Great fun!
Ultimately though, if I’m not doing it for the social aspect, just a standard gym session works best for me so that’s what I’ve stuck with for the most part.
I Have Serious Issues with Personal Space
Please don’t invade it!
One of my biggest bug bears at the gym has got to be coming into contact with people who don’t have an appropriate respect for personal space. I am very particular about this – especially when in the middle of a workout. Who wants a stranger in close proximity when there is a world of perspiration involved and questionable sweat-induced hairstyles on show?! Invade my personal space at your peril!
I Can’t Stand Other People’s Bodily Odours
It is a proven fact that exercise breeds farts (see THIS article if you don’t believe me) so it is no wonder that so many questionable smells can make their way to your nostrils at the gym. As natural as it may be though, nasty gasses from strangers’ asses do not make for a pleasant work out environment. I have been midway through a session on the treadmill many times when someone has let rip nearby making me think like I will almost certainly bring my pre-workout snack straight back up. What is the correct etiquette in this situation? Is it rude to move if you find yourself next to a stinker? I’m not sure! I hate bad smells though so if you get on the treadmill next to me and you’re a bit of a whifter, I will almost certainly move machines sharpish!
I Was Very Afraid of the Scary Mat Area
I confess, for a long time I wouldn’t set foot in the terrifying zone that is the mat area. I looked in awe at the women brave enough to go and do squats, sit ups and other things I couldn’t even fathom so confidently on those mats.
A few months ago, joining a new gym after having had my baby, I had a free half-hour session with a PT who gave me a routine to work on my problem areas. I was ever so slightly terrified when I realised the majority of the stuff she wanted me to do was ON THE SCARY MAT AREA!
A few months on, I can confirm I braved it and it is not scary. In fact I actually enjoy it and it’s my favourite part of my gym sessions now. It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore! But I do like the new, more confident me at the gym and although I still have a long way to go I am starting to feel like it’s working.
Floor Length Mirrors Are A Double Edged Sword
Sometimes, I find the floor length mirrors at the gym to be a useful tool to check that I’m doing an exercise with good form.
Other times, they serve as a harsh reminder of my flaws when I spot my reflection mid-workout. Not so much beautiful and strong like all the fitness women I follow on Instagram, instead more like a beetroot with arms and legs on the treadmill, or even worse sporting an unexpected camel toe during a round of vigorous star jumps. 😳
Me vs Squats
I was very late to join the squat bandwagon… in fact I can’t honestly say that I really mastered the squat properly until my 30s. I tried, but they just don’t come naturally to me. I can’t explain why but for a long time I found them really quite difficult. For years I didn’t do them because every time I tried I had such terrible form it was just embarrassing. Hubs tried to teach me on how to do them, so did my best friend, but neither could quite understand how I could get it so wrong when they found it so easy. In the last few months though I have finally joined the Squat Brigade and I can usually do them now. Usually. Every so often though I’ll spot myself in the mirror and realise I’ve reverted to my old, terrible ‘is she having a poo in the woods or is she trying to squat’ form and I have to re-align myself quickly before people start to notice!
I Am Extremely Uncomfortable with Changing Room Nudity
I can’t for the life of me understand why people would ever choose to bare their bums, boobs and bits out in the open for extended periods of time when there are a multitude of private cubicles that they could go in. And when I find myself near to these exhibitionist types I literally don’t know where to look. They always seem to make a lot of eye contact as well and go as slowly as is physically possible drying themselves off and (in some cases) moisturising and everything before they put their kecks back on. It makes me feel as if they’re extending some kind of challenge to me – “LOOK AT MY NAKEDNESS!! LOOK AT IT!!!” I can’t look at it. The challenge is most certainly not accepted.
Please Don’t Talk to Me
Obviously if I see someone I know at the gym I’ll say hi, I’m not a complete ignoramus. If neither of us are in the middle of an exercise or on a machine I might even have a small conversation. But I absolutely hate it if someone comes up to me and tries to talk to me when I’m in the middle of running on the treadmill or doing a round of sit ups, etc. I am always sweaty with a big red baboon face and unkept hair and the last thing I want to be doing is chatting to people when I look like that. Please just leave me be if you see me!
Gym Instructors Make Me a Bit Nervous
They really do. Especially the overzealous ones. The minute a member of staff walks past I feel a mild wave of panic that they will look at me and see me doing something with really bad form. I can only assume this comes from memories of being absolutely terrible at almost everything in P.E back in my high school days. It’s the only subject I got below a C grade at GCSE and I used to dread every single class. Somehow these gym bods must tap into that deep buried memory and bring out a bit of an inferiority complex thing with me. (Even though the ones at my current gym are absolutely lovely!)
Working Out Makes Me Happy
No matter how crappy I feel walking into the gym and no matter how much I don’t want to be there, I never fail to walk out feeling a million times better for having worked out. It is so worth doing if only for that! The fact that it makes me feel a little less guilty for that glass of wine when I get home is just an added bonus!
So, I have to confess that I really like the gym now. I’m still learning in a lot of ways; I’m trying to build up my workout repertoire a bit to keep things interesting and get better results. I still have a bit of a way to get my pre-baby body back, but I’ve made a positive start so far this year. Most of all I’m pleased with myself for getting much braver at trying new things.
Next on my list of new things to try is exercises with resistance bands. I first saw them in a workout video by Biff and Baba and since then I’ve seen another woman at the gym doing some crazy crab-like exercises with them too. They look cool! But I will wait until the gym is quiet one day otherwise I fear I will fall over onto my ass like a flailing beetle and make an utter fool of myself. 🙈