Getting Started

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post seeking help finding some kind of workout plan that could help me get fit before I turn forty next year. I am truly grateful that so many people took time to make suggestions – most of which fell into a couple of broad categories: 1) walking  and 2) finding what I like and doing that.

These were more problematic recommendations than they seem on their face. Walking shouldn’t be a difficult option, but I already walk a lot. A lot. I don’t own a car, so I commute, get groceries, run errands, and do most everything else as a pedestrian the majority of the time. I realize that walking for exercise and walking to get places is not exactly the same thing, but I feel like those are the only muscles I use regularly so I wanted an exercise plan that got other parts of me involved.

The “do something you like” idea was even more complicated. The problem is this: what I like is sitting on my couch eating ice cream, and that’s not really working for me anymore. (So sad. It used to.) I honestly don’t know what exercise I like, other than yoga, which is not enough in itself. Pretty much every fitness activity sounds vaguely torturous to me – those that I understand. Others are even more confusing, like the “zumba class” that several of my friends mention in their Facebook status updates.

The answer, then, was in the question… I need to figure out what I like. Even though I suspect it’s all painful and boring in equal parts, I don’t actually know that. Trying out different options is the only sensible way to figure out what I like, and – conveniently enough – they store virtually all of the myriad fitness options at the gym. And so, that’s what I did. I joined the Washington Sports Club by my house. (And “by my house” is about a mile walk, thus covering the walking thing, too, as it turns out.)

I’ve never belonged to a gym in my life, and find it terrifying. I had my orientation session with the trainer today and honestly thought I might vomit I was so nervous. It never  occurred to me that I would react to the gym like a kid who got picked last for kickball. Or had to stay after school to run extra laps for being slow. Or who almost didn’t get the fitness certificate for not being able to do push-ups. (Yes. All me. No fictitious examples there.) Even though I am a grown-ass woman, I managed to drag every single bit of Phys-Ed class anxiety I’d ever experienced in there with me today, which was about as awful as it sounds. (Worse, actually.)

I survived, however, without crying, and even did all the reps of squats, crunches, and modified push-ups that the trainer made me do. I didn’t last as long on the not-the-eliptical-nor-the-treadmill-but-something-similar machine as I planned to, but that’s mostly because I forgot how to slow it down and I had to get off or risk turning my legs to such jello that I wouldn’t have been able to walk home.

I’m planning to go back on Wednesday, since the trainer said the strength training stuff should be every other day. For the time being, I am going to alternate it with some yoga at home, though I’d like to eventually go back to taking classes, since the yoga studio is not the stress-inducing environment that the gym is. I think I might want that balance.

6 thoughts on “Getting Started

  1. Rudi April 12, 2010 / 11:22 pm

    Good start! The anxiety will fall away working with a trainer: it’s a marked difference from the old school days, and a good trainer will know when to push and when to let things “slide” (or push less – it’s still pushing).

    Again: go, you!

  2. Mom April 13, 2010 / 6:26 am

    Oh I had no idea you carried such anxiety over Phys Ed. I feel like a bad mother! I do remember taking on the gym coach in elementary school once for his lack of sensivity in berating you publicly for your lack of speed (I think that was the extra laps thing)……anyway……Go Girl!! Sounds like a good plan. 🙂

  3. wendalicious April 13, 2010 / 10:36 am

    Yoga is exercise! Yoga is exercise!

    Maybe you can find an athletic yoga class, or a yoga for strength class, or a yoga for fitness class. There are so many options now – don’t do the stairmaster if you hate it, because you will never stick with it.

  4. common loon April 13, 2010 / 11:18 am

    Congratulations!!! First trip is tough. Second and third are a little tougher (OK, so now I know where the equipment is, but just how did that part work again? Yes, I have ANOTHER question. This is not comforatble or fun – is my time up yet?). Please stick with it while you are searching for a fitness routine that will work into your life!!! My mind is tossing ideas around about options, but I’m not sure your inetersts (kickboxing? adult hockey? rock climbing? hiking? what cause could you support by doing exercise? what spot in the world would you like to travel to and what is unique about the fitness regime there?). I am very excited about what you are doing! It’s good for you and motivating for the rest of us – don’t quit.

  5. Alisa April 13, 2010 / 12:26 pm

    Go you! I don’t fear exercise. I just don’t like it. I was a tram sport person growing up and I hate the lonely gym time or hamster wheel aspect of the treadmill, stationary bike and other moving, but not moving items. In fact, they make me nauseous too.

    My best tip for you, if you can’t find something you love to do (which is rare for most when they exercise), is to find someone you love doing it with. If you can get a friend to go to the gym with you, take a class, or whatever it is, you are more likely to show up.

    Michele Corsey and I used to take classes at the Y together. When she left, I followed suit. Stephen drags my ass out on the bike and onto the treadmill.

    Also, if you do continue the hamster wheel items, a good, long, awesome playlist is your best bet.

    Good luck!

  6. Dan April 13, 2010 / 3:00 pm

    Wendy is right, Yoga is exercise.

    You’ve probably gotten a start with Hatha (sun salutaions, stretching, meditating), but there’s also step-dancing-while-pretending-to-catch-butterflies yoga (KaliRay), there’s kickboxing-in-a-hot-room yoga (Bikam), there’s aerobic yoga (Astanga).

    And I should point out that I had to look those names up since I’d forgotten them all.

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