Exercise / Fitness / Humour / Running

How I Learned to Love the Gym (Or at least not completely hate it)

My gym has been a bit of a madhouse lately.

Yesterday, I went for my usual lunchtime workout, only to discover that all of the treadmills were occupied.

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Since I will use almost any excuse to skip a workout, I thought about calling it quits right then and there. But I had made a killer new running playlist that morning; and I did have a pretty cute outfit on. So I decided to stick it out.

As I waited in line for a machine, I couldn’t get over how busy the cardio room was. There were even lineups at the water fountain.

This, my friends, is what’s known as the “January Gym Rush”. Membership sales surge as eager new members seek to carry out their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy. I call these newbies the “Resolutioners”. They’re sort of like One Direction’s “Directioners”, only about 10-15 years older, and 50-75% more annoying.

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Resolutioners file into the gym on January 1st like a bunch of nervous, high school freshmen: so eager, yet so, unbelievably scared. While generally well-intentioned, Resolutioners can wreak havoc on your workout routine. They crowd the change rooms, take up all the good parking spots and steal your favourite treadmill. They don’t know where anything is or how to use it, and they frequently disobey the most basic rules of gym etiquette; like “always wipe down your machines” and “Treadmill #15 belongs to BreezyK”.

I quickly found myself becoming impatient and cursing these Resolutioners for messing up my workout chi. Then I remembered that back in 2005, I was a Resolutioner myself.

(Cue the flashback)

flashback

After spending the first half of my freshman year at University subsisting on nothing but Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Little Caesar’s pizza and dining hall hash browns, I inevitably gained the Freshman 15. Plus 5. Unhappy with how I looked and felt, I signed up for a membership at my school’s athletic club and resolved to lose the weight in January.

At first, I had no idea what I was doing.  Despite being a high school athlete, I knew shockingly little about fitness. I spent a solid month trying to figure out the settings on the treadmills, not realizing they were measured in miles rather than kilometres.

I set a routine for myself, waking up at 6am every day to hit the gym before my 8:30 classes. I’m not going to say it was easy; I was hopelessly intimidated by all of the fit, beautiful football players and Volleyball chicks with mile-long legs and perfect ponytails. There were days where I  wanted to end it all by fashioning a noose out of the treadmill emergency cord.

sadgym

But I put my head down, listened to some more JaRule and kept going.

By May, I had lost almost all of the 20lbs I had gained. I felt awesome.

For the next three years, I stuck to my fitness regime. Things dipped off for a bit in 2008 when I started law school and became convinced I was “too busy” for the gym. Incidentally, however, I was not too busy to drink copious amounts of alcohol and devour muffins the size of my head. When my “fat clothes” started fitting a little too well again, I quickly sprang into action. I trained for my first 10k and hit the gym before class in the mornings. I read my notes on the treadmill and highlighted cases on the upright bike. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but what they didn’t know, was that all of this was actually keeping me sane.

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I graduated law school fitter, of sound mind, and with only a few more grey hairs than when I started. Success.

3 years later, I am still a regular gym-goer. And while at least 75% (ok, 90%) of my motivation can be attributed to vanity, the other 10% can be chalked up to enjoyment.

While I often joke about my disillusionment with the gym and how the treadmill is ruining my life, the truth is, the gym is actually sort of a happy place for me.  It’s a time to be alone with my thoughts; where no one bothers me. The treadmill doesn’t yell me for drafting a document incorrectly. I don’t get scolded by the elliptical for taking too long to respond to an e-mail. They are just there for me. Whenever I need them. For as long as I want. (Except on statutory holidays. Or between the hours of 11pm and 5am.But you get the idea.)

The gym is a place where I feel confident even when I don’t anywhere else. Plus, I’ve really come to know and like all of the staff and the regulars there. Even if we don’t always talk, I can still feel a sense of mutual respect and admiration between us. The warm smiles, the supportive nods; it’s like “hey, we’re all in this together”.

My gym has sort of become my home-away-from-home. My second family.The treadmills are like my siblings; the free weights those weird second cousins I only see once or twice a year.

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Let’s face it, working out is hard. So hard, in fact, that a lot of North Americans just don’t do it at all. But if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I promise you it’s worth it. You can even join my gym if you need moral support. They totally gouge you on monthly fees, but the hairdryers are top-notch.

And if you’re a seasoned gym vet frustrated with all of those newbies, just remember: You, too, didn’t know the difference between a deadlift and a power lunge at one point. Be Patient. We’re all in this together.

Question of the Day: Did you make a new year’s resolution to get healthy? Are you a regular gym-goer?

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27 thoughts on “How I Learned to Love the Gym (Or at least not completely hate it)

  1. I’d forgotten about the January rush to the gym, right on the heels of new year resolutions. Makes me happy that I’ve been too sick to visit the gym so far. But I love my gym and have been going for DECADES…although not to make you depressed or anything… I’ve gained about 8 lbs since I started.

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  2. I am so glad I ran into this blog! I am not a resolutioner (but lately I’ve only been going once a week, so I might as well be…)

    I was really excited to read that you are a frequent-gym-attender and happen to be in the same profession. I just graduated law school last May, and am clerking for a Judge until August. It’s been a little bit of a struggle to balance the office, crazy attorneys, legal memoranda, and “healthier foods” simultaneously. Any tips?

    I look forward to reading your upcoming entries!

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    • I’m so glad you did too and now we can commiserate together! My #1 tip for the gym while working long hours is to try as much as you can to do it in the morning before work starts. Or if you can sneak out at lunchtime. Whenever I leave it until after work, I inevitably end up working late and have to skip it!
      And as for healthy foods.. that’s more of a struggle. Try to take your own lunch when you can and avoid all the birthday cake! lol Good luck!

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  3. I’m a regular gym head, and I have resolved to lose my Christmas belly faster in 2013 than I did in 2012.

    Actually, tonight is my first gym session in over a month. It’s going to be painful AND chock full of noobs.

    Good luck with yours!

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  4. Oddly enough, I lost a lot of weight when I finally stopped my gym membership. I was really, REALLY overweight. For over a year I went to the gym five times a week and was baffled when I didn’t see results. I realized that I was too intimidated to really push myself, get red in the face and dry heaving, in front of all those fitness buffs. So my trips to the gym were just slow walks and hanging out. I felt more comfortable at first doing the messy, ugly, hard work in private at home, running early in the morning before my neighbors woke up. After months of this, I returned to the gym and actually enjoyed it, maybe because I went into it already confident that I was strong and healthy enough to be there!

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    • That’s a good point, I was really self-conscious too when I started. Mostly because I sweat so goddamn much. Seriously, when I run into people I know at the gym they can’t believe it. I look like I’ve just went swimming.

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  5. I love it, Running is cheaper than Therapy. So true. It can be relaxing…sometimes. And my own personal motto, My worst days at work have been my best days in the gym. Just taking the frustrations of those whackos out on the weights. ~we don’t get the hair dryers though unless you count that blower on the wall by the sinks. Keep up the great work Breezy!

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  6. I used to be a regular gym goer, and I still will be on the weekends, but now that I’m working downtown because I have to catch a train there just isn’t time to drive out to the gym and then make it back in time for work. So I’ve been running in the morning. I’ve never been one to run around my neighborhood, so it’s been a change this week to start. I’m dreading heading to my gym in a little while because I’m sure it’s going to packed and there’s going to be a ton of newbies in my strength training class… Ugh.

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  7. I’m too scared to be a resolutionist…..and it’s been weeks since I met with the “girls” to work out…and it’s been officially a year since I bought that yoga DVD…and at least 2 years since I bought the Belly Dance DVD…sigh….

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  8. My resolution is just to be sensible about fitness. Most years I usually make these grand schemes about overhauling my physique which never work. Instead my goal is to be consistent and enjoy each workout 🙂

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      • I’d have to say good music is one. Also having variety…like going to different classes and trying out new to me things. I get super nervous doing something new for the first time, but I think that’s normal and I usually feel pretty good when I’m done.

        If I’m really just not in the mood for working out then I do something laid back like walking and stretching…I figure at least I’ve done something 🙂

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  9. Where’s the shot of your cute outfit?
    Good job with the workout regiment, by the way. I need to follow your example; I’ve developed a bit of a “Burger King gut” from chowing down at work…

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