In Which I Work Out
It has taken me many years to come to grips with my phobia of the gym.
Much like the first time I took my newborn out in public and I couldn’t steer the stroller and I felt all shaky and weird, like everyone knew I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, I feel like this when I enter the gym.
Years ago I joined a gym near my work and in the process I signed up for their “New Year New You” weight loss program called Apex. I was about 25 pounds overweight. The program was a “customized” diet and weekly work-outs with a “certified personal trainer.” And by the way, you also need to buy these expensive supplements, bars, and powdered drink mix.
My trainer was a former high school fat girl who lost weight in her late teens due to bulimia. She had bleached hair that matched her boyfriend’s – he was also a trainer at the gym and had the same shoulder-length, bleach blonde hair. Someone referred to them as the Olsen twins once while I was there. I would describe my trainer as mentally unstable, moody, huge, and she wore too much eyeliner. The day we met to begin my plan, she measured my body fat with the door to her little office OPEN. I kind of hated her.
She created my diet based off my preferences and a certain ratio of carbs-to-protein-to-fat. Then she created my workout. You must understand what it was like to go into this gym, terrified that she’d be working, because I never knew if she would acknowledge me or not. Sometimes she’d say “hey!” all friendly like, other times she’d be sullen and eyeing her fingernails, or complaining to other employees.
This might have set the tone for my gym fear. Yes, I did feel like everyone was watching me and knew I was out of shape and therefore gross. But I also felt like I was on eggshells the entire time I was there because I was either worrying that she’d show up, or worrying about how she had responded to me when I arrived.
Imagine my shock when she met with me after my program was over and asked me if I wanted to continue training with her. She said to me, without eye contact, “I mean, I like working with you and I hope you like working with me.” Um, wtf? She was trying to sell me more training time. She liked working with me? I was shocked when lightning did not, in fact, strike her dead.
So now I go to the gym with a certain level of anxiety. If I am using equipment, I worry that I will appear ignorant. Monday I had to adjust a weight bench and honestly I felt like someone asked me to work a hologram machine. Huh? Turns out I only needed to lift the seat up. If I am taking a class, oh dear god, I am a wreck. I have done most of the classes before thanks to a friend who used to go to the gym all the time until she just moved away. 😦 At least I have the template of what I am supposed to do already laid out for me.
But, I must confess to dueling realities: I LOVE to dance, but I can’t actually dance. I LOVE zumba, but what I end up doing with my body does not resemble zumba. The gym offers a class called “dance cardio” which I took the other day, and I seriously do not understand what is wrong with me that I can’t pick up basic dance steps. The instructor demonstrates the move, it is all around me in mirrors, but I have no idea what I am doing.
I can not do the class with anyone I know in attendance, because it will up my anxiety level. I prefer to muddle along anonymously screwing up every single move until the class ends.
I’m working on getting to the place where I don’t care. I have figured out that this is easier for me if I can NOT see myself in the mirror. As long as I am buried somewhere in the middle of the pack, I am ok.
But, today I chose to avoid the gym and just ran around my neighborhood. I’m sure I’ll be back tomorrow.