Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Am I Doing Here?

Ever start doing something new, and suddenly wonder what the heck you were thinking? I'm sure we've all been there at some point, some of us repeatedly.

Tonight I headed over to the gym after I did some hand quilting. (Sewing student hurt her wrist playing soccer so our lessons have paused until she heals, poor girl.) When I started there at the end of July, my goal was simply to use the treadmills. I knew I needed to get moving to keep weight and blood sugar under control, and walking at home or in the neighborhood was fraught with problems (which I won't go into now). I also knew I loved using the treadmills whenever I stayed at a motel. So I decided to take the plunge and join Anytime Fitness, so I could use the treadmills any time I wanted to. (Seriously, if I feel the need to walk at 3 a.m., I could go over there.) It was just within my budget, but health-wise I figured it was more than worth it.

So, I just planned on using the treadmill. I was building up my time on it, as well as my speed (still just walking, never been a decent runner in my life), and I was feeling pretty good. Then I had to have a session with the personal trainer. And, as personal trainers do, she challenged me to do more than just walk. "Muscle memory," she said sorrowfully, shaking her head. "Don't keep doing the same thing. You'll get bored, and you won't get much out of it."

Okay, fine, I'm willing to try new things. Oh, you want me to learn to use those torture machines??? At least, that's what all those weight machines look like, just with more padding. I lost count tonight how many different machines there are in that small space. I've also decided, for now, which I'm willing to risk using (and risk looking like a fool using -- there are some serious muscle people who go to that gym). 

I discovered I really like the twister. No idea what the real name is, but you kneel on padding, hold on to handles, and then twist your lower body. I was a bit concerned about my back, but figured anything that can improve my abs will most likely help my back, too. Some days I do the exercises gingerly, and my back feels better after I'm done. Excellent, that's probably worth my monthly membership fee right there!

I've started using a device that you can use backward or forward, working the front or back of the shoulders. With all the tension I store in my shoulders, I thought that might help a bit. I haven't been using it long enough to really notice a difference yet, but I feel like I'm actually working shoulder and arm muscles when I use it.

And this week, I've started using this bar that you pull down toward your chest. (Don't you love how I know all the technical terms here? Ha!) Again, aiming at my shoulders and back. 

Oh, yeah, and I've figured out which settings I really like on the treadmill. Love the "hill" setting, which randomly throws in different inclines between level stretches. Think that's my favorite one. Occasionally I'll keep it flat and go for speed for as long as I can handle it.

I've even tried the elliptical machines, aka crosstrainers, and they are just tough on the body. My record length of time on those things is about 17 minutes. The athletes who go to town on them for long periods of time have my complete respect. I keep trying them, though, along with the exercise bikes, just to change things up a bit.

To get back to the beginning of this meandering, tonight I was using the front shoulder machine, and another person came over to start using free weights. She looked like she really knew what she was doing. I glanced to my left, where another serious fitness person was using another machine. And then I looked around at all the other machines in the area, and thought "what the heck am I doing here??!?" I felt like that game, "which one is not like the others." What was worse, there was a mirror directly in front of where I was sitting, so I had to watch myself work out. Sheesh. I was really tempted to close my eyes, but figured that would look even goofier than I already did. 

So, I finished up with that weight machine, wiped it down (considering how many people I heard coughing and sniffling at work today, I'm tempted to wipe down everything I touch everywhere), and went to a machine I knew I could use without feeling silly. Treadmill, here I come. Let's rock that hill setting and get my confidence back on track!  :)


  1. hey, you are there and trying, so that is awesome. I need to get into a gym or get more movement in my life somehow. People like you, stepping out of their comfort zones and sharing with us, inspire me.

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Yeah, I did step out of my comfort zone, but figured I'd rather look a little silly than deal with potential future health problems. Perspective is a wonderful thing. :) Good luck with your own goals!

  2. This is probably more annoying than helpful. I've been an on-again-off-again runner for years. I love the long slow distance stuff--but had consistent knee & hip pain until I started learning how to run barefoot (which I now do on rocky trails with no pain--except the occasional ouchie from a rock or twig). This entire paragraph is by way of background. {8'>

    But I've found I get more benefit from sprinting. I've even started to enjoy it. A few 60-second all-out sprints have, I feel, a lot more training effect than any kind of long slog. They also fit much more easily into my day.

    I miss the long-run stuff, and I go do it when I can. But if anything I'm a stronger runner without it. Lots of other people seem to agree (look up "HIIT" via Google, if interested; seems to even help cardiac patients). So I wonder just how useful a lot of those machines really are, and how useful time in a gym is. There are probably easier, more fun, and less time-intensive ways to exercise. Probably.

    Plus I don't like the mirrors either! {8'>

    1. David, thanks for your input. (Not annoying, by the way.) I've never been much of a runner, even when I had to run to play field hockey in college. Long distance, short distance, doesn't matter I just can't force myself to do it.

      I once heard a discussion amongst runners about how women with normal or wide hips have more problems running than do women with narrow hips, due to leg angle hitting the road. Not sure how much that is true, but that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :)

      As for using a gym instead of cheaper means, well, I'd been trying the cheaper (read: free) options for much of this year and it just wasn't working for me. My usual walking habits were causing me hip pain, which of course made me not want to walk. My work schedule is another problem: I'm not a morning person, I often work noon - 8:30 pm and going for a walk after dark is not generally recommended as safe for females anywhere. There were other issues, too, which made me consider the gym as a better option, such as the local terrain and the extremely poor condition of sidewalks in this county. No, it's not green; no, it's not cheap; occasionally I wonder if I will be able to afford it. But, if I need to start exercising more, right now the gym is my best option.