The Gym Intimidated Me
I didn’t know any of the people and I was completely unfamiliar with the space.
It was also crowded with guys and, of course, a lot of macho energy.
I felt self-conscious about being a woman in this environment, let alone an older woman.
It was encouraging when I saw a few other friendly female faces, one who generously offered helpful advice.
There was much to learn and I felt uncertain.
But my health and well-being was enough motivation. So I put aside my fears and joined a gym.
I started going once a week at the beginning of the New Year so that I could lift heavier weights than the ones I use at home for the purpose of building more bone density.
I didn’t know where in the gym to do my warm up or find the equipment I needed. Part of my warm up includes a 20 second hang from a bar. There were two bars that were somewhat nearby but oops, they were both being used. I wasn’t sure if it was proper gym protocol here to ask the one guy who was resting if I could jump in between his sets. He said yes and it worked out ok.
Then it was time to do back squats (where you hold the barbell on your shoulders while you squat,) which requires a rack. There are only 3 racks in the gym so I literally had to stand in a line for a spot at a barbell rack. After waiting a while, I finally got a spot for the back squat, did them and then moved to another area for chest presses. Later, when I needed the barbell rack for deadlifts, I had to wait in a line all over again.
In my first encounter with the barbell rack, I wasn’t sure if I could even get the 45 lb. bar off the rack and onto the floor, where I would add more weight for the deadlifts. It wasn’t pretty but I managed. Another personal challenge for me was the math – how many plates to add for the total weight I wanted? And why didn’t they have small 2.5 lb. plates that I needed for the chest press? (It turns out they do have them but they keep them at the front desk since they’re easy to pocket and some people take them home.)
So while I was getting familiar with the gym and its equipment, I needed to figure out a better time to come to the gym when it was less crowded. The last thing that I wanted to spend my time doing was standing in line at the gym waiting for the equipment.
My recent strategy has been to wake up super early to avoid the crowds and arrive soon after the gym opens at 5:00 am. I arrange what I’m going to wear the night before and get dressed right away. I don’t take the time to drink any coffee or tea, just down a 16 oz glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. I do my warm-up at home, bundle up in several layers and head out the door. It’s still dark in the winter and there is absolutely no one around. At that time it’s a bit nerve-wracking to be a woman walking alone so I am on high alert during the 7-minute walk to the gym. The payoff is that now I rarely have to wait for an open rack. Another bonus is that by starting my workout this early in the day, I’m usually done by 7:15 am and there’s still soooo much time ahead in the day.
Once I’m home, I’m ready to enjoy my new favorite post-workout, super-easy breakfast:
Parmesan Eggs, Aussie Bites and Kombucha
I’m 9 weeks into my new habit and it’s beginning to feel ok.
New exercise habits are not easy to establish. The learning curve can be steep and there can be a lot of awkwardness. I’m used to that. A main reason that I started on this path was my desire to feel less awkward and less embarrassed. Plus learning new skills fully engages me – body, mind and soul.
We each have the powerful potential to change and evolve.
I hope that you feel inspired to pursue and persevere in the things that bring you health and well-being too!