My fitness journey has not been an easy one. Is anyone’s? I started lifting weights and running in highschool. I was doing quite well at it for someone who had never lifted before and prior to that had only been a cyclist. I lifted 2-3 days a week during what would have otherwise been my PE period. I loved it. It was hard but I looked amazing. I love the way I felt too. Lots of energy and it put a serious dent in my depression which in those days was pretty bad.
Halfway through my junior year I found that my weights increased. I went to my teacher and told him that this was too much weight and my knees had already been upset about the previous weight and I was struggling with knee pain. This is not the first time I had complained about this to him.
This man didn’t believe that non-athletes should be lifting weights. He further didn’t believe that women should be lifting. He made this abundantly clear in the way he interacted with us vs the boys. Even more so with those who were already in sports. Far be it for me to, ya know, just want to be healthy and look and feel good…
He told me to stop complaining and just do it. Frustrated and a bit deflated I walked away and back toward the squat machine. My spotter looked at me and knew he had not been kind. I said screw it, we’ll just put the old weight on there and call it good. Unbeknownst to me he was watching me do this and counting. He came over and said you didn’t put the right weight on there. I said “sir it’s too much and I’m not doing that, My body is saying no.” What happened next will to date be one of the most embarrassing and infuriating things to ever happen to me.
He shouted to the entire class (20+ of my peers) to stop. He called them over to the squat machine, loaded the right weight and explained that we were all going to stand there while I did my entire set. I did the set, tore something in my knee and would later find out that I wore away all of the cartilage in my knees during that whole thing which explains the knee pain I was having.
Why am I telling you all of this? Here’s why. My story is unique in some ways and not in many many others. I am not the only person who’s trusted someone with their body only to be misled and treated poorly. I’m not the only one to feel very awkward and timid walking into a gym after that. I’m not the only one.
It would take me YEARS and some health issues to get me back into fitness and back into a fitness environment. It still isn’t the most comfortable place for me to be and beginning to workout in my mid-thirties has not at all been easy! But I’m doing it. Your desire to be healthy has to outweigh your feeling awkward as all hell. Your need to not follow in the footsteps of some family has to overcome the pain of having people watch you struggle.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
- Everyone feels awkward in the gym at first
- Everyone thinks folks are staring at them
- Everyone else is so concerned about themselves that they could give two shits about you.
- You just have to get over the initial pain and worry and it does get easier.
- The pain is never as bad as the first few really hard workouts you get in.
- Picking a gym is a lot like picking a hair stylist. Sometimes it’s either real bad or awesome.
- Good air conditioning is a must.
- Being able to swim offers a real way to get a full body workout in with low impact to sore joints and muscles.
- Get yourself an accountability buddy. Trust me on this one. You’ll need it on those days you just don’t have the motivation to go on your own.
- Bear in mind this person doesn’t need to be in the same place as you.
Whatever your workout experience in the past you deserve a fresh start and you can absolutely have one. Finding someone to go to the gym with you can really be a good way to get in there. Hiring a personal trainer to help you learn how to properly use machines and work your muscles is a great idea. I will write another post on picking the right gym and how to pick a personal trainer.
Until then go buy a few 3 and 5 lb weights and do some exercises from home because that’s a good way to get into the routine. If you need a beginner workout shoot me a message and I can write you a quickie 30 min workout!
Light and love yall!