The Gym Virgin gets pumped

I’ll concede that I was born with pretty good genes, but there’s a point in time (and if truth be told, I reached it a few years ago) where some effort is required to maintain the chassis. However, as mentioned in an earlier post, I have an aversion to paying for services that I can do myself for free. And since exercise falls into this category, I just couldn’t bring myself to join a gym.

I tried to remedy the situation on my own–by walking, biking, etc., but I knew my meager efforts weren’t quite cutting it. So last fall when a new fitness center opened very close to my house, I thought: Maybe it’s time. For one thing, the gym was running a Grand Opening special. For another, numerous medical studies have concluded that people with my husband’s condition benefit from regular exercise. So having a convenient place to exercise would not only help me get in shape–it would actually be therapeutic for him. Therefore a gym membership was an easy expense to justify for that reason alone. But would joining a gym translate into actually working out?

photoWe took a tour of the facility and signed up for a membership on the spot. The membership included a free consult with a personal trainer (designed for the purpose of up-selling a fitness package), so we scheduled the consult for a few days later. The training director put me through some basic fitness tests that underscored the fact that I needed some help. While my height/weight/BMI were all within a good range, my flexibility, endurance and strength were not. Faced with the offer of special introductory pricing for a package of personal training sessions, I had to make a shrewd financial decision. We had already joined and would be paying a monthly fee—sunk costs. If we never actually went to the gym, we’d join the millions of Americans who pay a monthly membership that funds nothing but good intentions. I knew I needed some accountability, so I signed up for a year’s worth of training sessions.

My personal trainer is a petite, pretty blonde who is probably underestimated on a regular basis by the men she meets outside the gym. And I pity the man who makes that mistake. 😉 To kick off our first session, she asked me some questions about my fitness routine and experience. I told her I was a gym virgin and didn’t even know how to use most of the machines. In short, I told her: “Assume I know nothing. Assume everything needs work.”

With this liberal direction, Marcia got down to business. She took me over to the free weights and handed me a 40 lb. barbell. “Okay, stomach in, butt out,” she ordered. “Girls out! Shoulders back!” she continued, coaxing me into a posture that my mother had been discouraging in me since puberty. “Stick ’em out! Be shameless! Okay, now bend over slowly… There you go!” The back of the gym is where all the serious iron-pumpers hang out, and I could see their amused smirks as my trainer ordered me about.

And so the Gym Virgin mastered the exaggerated, floozy stance necessary to properly execute a Romanian Deadlift (at least, I think that’s what it’s called).

Marcia alternately encourages and challenges me to try progressively heavier weights (check out those squats). And while I still feel like a weakling when I see what Marcia can do, I’ve found that I actually enjoy my workouts. The slow progress is my own darn fault since my training appointment is the only time I get to the gym some weeks.  This proves my accountability theory correct, but I’m sticking with it—and am starting to develop some pretty buff arms.

photo-2Perhaps as important as the physical benefit is the psychological boost that comes from getting out of the house and being active on a cold winter’s evening. Or realizing that I’m still capable of learning new skills and healthy habits. Or maybe it’s just having an excuse to have fun and act a little shameless in pursuit of a better bod. 🙂

One response to “The Gym Virgin gets pumped

  1. First and foremost, you’re looking great! This makes me want to stop by after work for a membership. I totally condone the shameless pursuit of a better bod and worth every penny. My problem comes in that I actually would have to give it some effort versus just my paycheck.

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