Plans of a Gym-Avoider

I’ve never really gotten into the habit of going to the gym. And no, I’m not proud of it. My husband and I had a goal to go at least once a week last summer . . . that didn’t happen. In fact, I think I may have only really done the whole gym thing (not counting for classes) about four or five times in my life.

When I was fourteen, my friend invited me to go work out with her at the new rec center. I couldn’t decline, having received too few social invitations that summer. I’d been with her once before, and it had been pretty easy to just work out while watching the TV we couldn’t hear. I actually enjoyed the exercise bikes and the treadmill, and chatting with a friend while you do it actually makes jogging around the track pretty breezy sometimes.

Gym-Avoider

My Current  Rut (Yours Too, Right?)

Now, when I go with my husband to the university gym (which I really should be utilizing more, seeing as I will only have free access to it for another semester), at least I’ve learned to feel proud of the resultant aches and soreness and that getting snacks from the vending machine defeats the point. But something else is different, and I never thought it would happen to me: I’m out of shape now.

As a teen, I was walking an average of about four miles a day – to work, school, the mall, 7-Eleven, you name it. In hindsight, my family not having a car after my dad left was probably the best thing that ever happened to my health. But I live in a different area now, where walking everywhere is just not as practical, so I’m relying much more on the bus and rides from family and friends. We’re hoping to finally get a car soon, and I actually dread the loss of the minimal workout we get just from walking to the bus stop so often.

I hate the feeling of actually getting tired from working out when, as recently as a couple years ago, walking up to five miles in one day – at a very brisk pace, no less – was not only easy, but positively relaxing. If I could even just do that still, I wouldn’t feel this rising pressure to frequent the gym. But I do feel it. And I really do want to change things.

First Things First

The very first step, even before making a habit of going to the gym, is to get comfortable with walking. It might be fairly easy for me to get back into the habit, given that I still have to get around on foot so much, but I think this is a solution for all of us who can’t seem to face the gym. Of course we’re going to hate going when we can’t even conquer a few flights of stairs at our schools and workplaces.

This is one of the simplest, most accessible ways to ease your body into better shape, because you’re already doing it near constantly anyway. Most of us think nothing of a little walking until we get in our heads that we’re doing it for exercise, but it can be recreation too. I used to like walking by myself because it let my mind and body breathe in a way nothing else did, but I also like taking walks with other people when I really want to talk to them. Or, consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator a slightly longer break before you have to turn in at the office.

The Gym is Like Hot Water (Ease Into It)

When we can walk up slightly inclined sidewalks without mentally comparing ourselves to the pioneers, then maybe we can go to the gym and not hate every minute of it. I think some of us jump into things and try to do too much too soon (like me actually trying to race my husband around the track that one time – pathetic). Maybe we should be focusing on, I daresay, enjoying ourselves there? When I was fourteen, I actually thought the treadmills, bikes, and running tracks were fun and relaxing, and I want to be in that place again.

When I no longer have free use of the school gym, maybe I actually will buy membership somewhere. I’ve always thought it was kind of a waste of money when you can just go jogging at the park, but when I see all the private clubs & gyms, I actually feel pulled to them. I think the adventurous sense of community we get from going and working out alongside strangers working toward a common goal, as well as the fact that I’d actually be paying for it, would motivate me to utilize it more, if only for an hour at a time.

By Stephanie Simonson. Stephanie Simonson is in her senior year of coursework at Weber State University and, in her spare time, picks up extra wordsmithing jobs such as writing for sportsmall Utah.