The Gym: Conclusion

I am honestly trying to find some way towards a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Whatever that means. I want to be reasonably healthy when I get old and the last few years it’s dawned on me that I really ought to get started now if I want to have any hope in the future. I’m not obsessive about it. I don’t want to be buff and bronzed. I don’t care that much. I just don’t want to have diabetes and multiple heart attacks by the time I’m 45. Not an insurmountable goal, I don’t think.

I had a membership to the gym for a year before I actually started using it. I canceled it this week.

I actually was using it for a good few months there. Three times a week for a good number of weeks. The key fob thing worked out pretty well. It works like this: they program in a workout routine; I should up and go through the paces. I don’t have to think about anything. I can just listen to audio books and do what the machines tell me.

I liked this idea. If I have to think about what I’m going to do next in the course of a workout, I’m liable to opt for packing up and going home.

There were a couple problems, though.

One thing I actually really like about the key fob idea was that it was progressive. Over time, your workout gets harder as you do more. This is important. You don’t want to just keep doing the same thing all the time because your body will just get used to it and you won’t progress any further. You want something that grows with you.

Unfortunately, the program they used was dead stupid. My weights were going to increase every eight workouts no matter what. Can’t do more than ten reps at a given weight? Well, if you try, that still counts as a complete set. So even though you’re struggling, desperately hoping you’re not injuring yourself in the process, your weights still go up like clockwork.

And worse, you can’t change the workout yourself. You have to pay them $25 for a consultation so they can knock the weights back.

After a couple months of doing the workout, not really enjoying it, but tolerating it well enough, with the thought that I was maybe making some progress with the whole “healthy lifestyle” thing, I booked a fitness reassessment (the scrolly text LED things on the machines tell you you should do this. After all, it’s free!) and a consultation to take the weights down a little. I was getting worried about my back (which still isn’t great since my fall) and shoulders.

I went in for my fitness reassessment feeling nervous, but like I was doing the right thing. The guy immediately made me feel uncomfortable, but he’s a jock–that’s pretty much inevitable. He took my weights and measures and declared that he’d seen all he needed to see. I was a wreck of a human being and nothing I’d done over the preceding three months had any hope of changing that. I obviously had no willpower and the only thing that could possibly ever help me was personal training. With him. Ideally as soon as possible.

He did not, as far as I could tell, do much of anything I would consider “assessing fitness.”

This really threw me for a loop. You have to understand I’m incredibly uncomfortable at the gym. I don’t feel like I belong there at all. I don’t know much about this stuff and I can’t relate to the people who are there. I don’t want to relate to the people there. I feel like at any moment, someone’s going to tell me I’m doing everything wrong and that I’m going to have to leave. And here that’s pretty much what this guy did.

Intellectually, I knew this was just a pressure sales pitch, but the asshole pointed out two things: both how incredibly insecure I am with the whole gym experience and how I might be taking a rather large chunk of my time and not getting much for it. I don’t have any experience that tells me this gym stuff will ever pay off.

I postponed my consultation thingy while I mulled all this stuff over. I resolved that I do actually think that getting into some sort of fitness routine would help me in the long run. I also resolved that I was never, ever getting a personal trainer–partly out of spite and partly because of their potential to do shit like this to me. Establishing a new routine like this is hard, and I can’t afford the possibility of assholes like this guy setting me back.

I did go back to the gym for the consultation thing. The guy apologized about the other guy, which made me feel a little better. We changed up the routine a bit. I went back to the gym a couple times, but struggled to make it regular. There was stuff about the new routine I didn’t like and it dawned on me that if I wanted to change it I’d have to pay the $25 and talk to someone again. I didn’t want to talk to any of them again. The new routine was now longer, and it meant it now took me an hour and a half between parking the car and getting back into it again. That’s hard. Trying to keep that up three times a week was starting to seem unreasonable.

And then I lost the key fob.

Which is when I pretty much gave up. To get a new one, I’d have to go talk to someone. And I decided if I was going to talk to someone, I might as well tell them to cancel my membership. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I never much liked it anyway.

I want to do something about this fitness thing. Honest. I haven’t given up. Between my exercise bike and making my daily walk to work a bit more strenuous, I have some ideas. I have to think about it, though, which is something I really didn’t want to do.

I don’t like that the end of this story makes me sound like a whiny failure, but that’s how these stories play out sometimes. The gym and I didn’t get along. When that happens, you should just go your separate ways and keep looking until you find something you will get along with.

4 thoughts on “The Gym: Conclusion

  1. matt

    Hey!

    Giving up on the gym isn’t giving up on the healthy lifestyle thing.

    I can’t envision being in a spot where the gym ever looks palatable to me; however, I do plan to get back into some sort of workout routine.

    What’s the metric? 15 minutes 3 times a week to make a difference (might be 45 minutes… which is a bit of gap, but… ultimately regular anything is better than regular nothing right?).

    Anyhow, sorry to hear the gym didn’t work out, but it’s not the end of the world and it just means one particular approach to a given end didn’t work.

    Good luck on the next approach!

    Stick with it!

  2. tinkerer

    I finally made it back to the gym…once…after 6 months of absence. It was my kid’s fault, of course. That was a month ago.

    Actually, I recently bought a DVD at the Dollar Store. Yup, a whole dollar this thing cost me. It’s called, “Pilates for Wimps: Total Fitness for the Partially Motivated”. The picture on front features a woman eating a donut & holding a cup of coffee. Very inspiring! Except now that I think on it, it maybe isn’t so recent–that was nearly two weeks ago now & I still haven’t unwrapped it. Hm.

    Just walk whenever possible (brisk is good), stretch (deliberately) on a regular basis (including at your desk, and I don’t just mean stretching your jaw while yawning!), and try not to overdo the calories (keep it balanced). You’ll be fine, Squirrel. And a whole lot less disabled in the long run! Let the rest of the world suffer shin splints and muscle tears, if they are so determined to buy into the gym trend. :)

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