On Finding the Gym and a New Comfort Zone

I bought a trial membership at the gym this week which was harder than you might think and not just because it’s a gym and also, Oh Sweet Baby Jesus Smiling Sweetly in His Manger, a GYM.

No. It was harder than you might think because I forgot how to get there.

That’s right.

I’ve been to the gym before, folks, but it’s been so long I couldn’t remember how to find it. Also, I forgot that my fancy phone can hold my hand, whisper assurances, and take me there if I but ask. I often forget this about God, though, too, so at least my phone’s in good company, eh?

I drove around the industrial part of our little town for a while, stomping my feet real loud, hoping to scare the gym out of the brush, but all that scampered out was the ACTION Vibratory Equipment building…

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… and the CLIMAX World Headquarters…

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which went a long way toward proving we have the Very Best Town Ever (Where do I live? Well, you know CLIMAX World Headquarters? There.), and gave me a robust Immature Laughter Workout, but did little to help me find my way.

Eventually, the gym quit hiding, and yesterday I went to a group weight lifting class.

Traditionally, I’ve loved lifting weights as much as I’ve loved having all the kids barfy at once. I’ll do almost anything to avoid it, and, if I get caught doing it anyway, I’m pretty sure  it’s going to kill us all.

Oddly, though, group weight lifting wasn’t awful. Almost as though free weights with good music, better friends and easy-to-follow instruction can be fun. I know; I hardly know what to do with this information, either. It’s like the mountains moved without any warning and I’m still reeling a little, trying to get my bearings. It helps that there was a fundamental flaw in the instruction; Bryanna kept saying things like “use your abs” like she believes we all have some.

Finding a gym to join is a strange thing for me. I don’t consider myself a gym kind of person. Several people have asked if it’s because of the mirrors in the group classes or not yet knowing the right moves. You know, the self-consciousness questions. And I can see that those things might be intimidating but that’s not it at all; I’ve been a mama for far too long to be dissuaded by the little things like public humiliation or making an utter fool of myself. No. My problem is the fact that I’m introverted to the point of being reclusive, hiding in my house and in my head by preference. I interact with friends more often in writing than face to face. I see my neighbors most often when we run into each other at school functions. So a gym? Crowds of people on purpose? This is a push for me. But an important one, I think, to choose to be part of an active, healthy community.

Running worked for me for a long time. Three years or so. I loved putting on my shoes and heading out the door on no one’s schedule but my family’s. Listening to no one’s music but my own (by which I mean my teenage daughter’s because I have no music of my own – I know lots of One Direction songs, is what I’m saying.) But I haven’t run much in the last 6 months, and, while I hope to get back to it, my scale keeps griping at me and it’s time for a change. With my youngest in full-day school this year, I have to acknowledge I’m headed into yet another season of life and adjust accordingly.

Life, y’all. And seasons! And our needs. And adjusting. It’s like it all keeps changing because that’s the way this whole thing works.

So I’m curious. Are you doing anything lately that pushes you outside your comfort zone? Anything that makes you draw on the wealth of abject humiliation you’ve experienced as a human being? What are you doing? And more importantly, why are you doing it?

………

P.S. Yesterday was free weights. This morning was Zumba. Now, I’m immobilized on my couch. Frozen. Muscles immovable. Apparently, Bryanna was right and I have abs, gluts, quads and all kinds of other whiny, complainy muscles. I can probably get up, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get back down, so I’m staying here. I’m experiencing some discomfort at this time due to a steady increase of bladder pressure. I’m not sure how, exactly, to explain to my bladder that squatting all the way down to toilet depth is simply not possible right now. It’s not that I don’t hear you, Bladder. You’re making some excellent, convincing points. It’s that my quads can’t do anything to help you. Sorry, buddy. You’re on your own.

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
36 comments
  1. congrats on getting back in shape! i too have gone back to the gym recently … i am a bit of an introvert and i like the gym because while it appears that there are lots of people its really easy to also be alone – snap on your headsets and get to work! although in group classes might be a bit harder to retain that solitary feeling … its nice to have options! i acidently went to a Zumba class and honestly, it was awesome!! i totally sucked at it but i think the hysterical laughing fully made up for my lack of skill! ZUMBA on ladies!!! xod

  2. You have the gift of words! So happy you are using your gifting and encouraging others to do the same. You are an inspiration!!

  3. Beth – It’s so nice to be back in the comments and be able to say Thank You! Your stories are like pulling up on the couch with an old friend and a nice drink for some soul therapy. The only answer I have to your questions above is Yes, motherhood. As to the Why?, well, I’m still working on that one.

  4. First, I’m so surprised that you are an introvert!! Ha! I should know better, the best writers always are, but I totally had you pegged as an extrovert =p

    Let us know how the whole exercise thing works out. Maybe one day I’ll try that too =)

  5. Hahahaha you are hilarious. I M contemplating looking up headquarters to really find out where you live, because man that town has got to be a hoot!

    I just started back into working out in the fall after having two littles. Now I am JUST starting to see progress! I go to classes once or twice a week and just try to get out doing things more (I like my own house too). I even got on our treadmill last night for e first time in ages! Why am I doing it? I like to feel……fit. Stronger. You are right that when you become a parent you stop caring what others think… I don’t care anymore about how skinny I am…. But I want my girls to grow up with a mom who values an active and healthy lifestyle and talks about how strong her body is. Not how waif like or thin it is ( or is not). And running and classes with interval training help me channel that idea. :).

    And good for you for getting out there! Stretch those sore muscles and take a nice long bath. 🙂

  6. I saw myself in this post a LOT! I get lost a lot, for starters. And I have truly wondered whether I have abs. And I always stay at home (even homeschool, so I don’t even get the school functions) and talk with my friends by chat or email more than with my voice. The only part I didn’t connect with was the running. And the gym. And the weightlifting. And the Zumba. Other than that, we’re soul sisters. 🙂

  7. It was nice to finally meet you Beth. You did so great in Pump and Zumba and I totally know that agonizing feeling of not being able to squat in the bathroom. Those first few weeks of Pump camp really do a number on muscles you didn’t evn know existed before. Allow ice and heat to be your best friends this weekend and hopefully we will see you again next week. PS. I live very close to that Climax company and the sign always make me giggle. My hubby and I joke that I should explore job opportunities there in the Fall when my baby goes into kindergarten. Perhaps I should investigate their main source of business first though;)

  8. Good for you on all fronts! Weight lifting is really beneficial, so keep it up. I find that after going to the same classes for a while, you make “gym friends” and maybe you don’t even know each other’s names, but you help encourage each other. Tip for sore muscles: if you stretch before you go to bed, your muscles will be much less sore. They’ll be of the “hey, I worked out and earned some new muscles” kind of sore instead of the “holy cow, I can’t sit on the toilet” sore. Quads seem to be the worst ones for me, so I always make sure I do a quad stretch for 30 seconds on each leg. It really does help. Try that next time and see if it helps.

  9. Nothing so major in my life. The new thing for me this year is letting my 10 month old roam free in our dog hair (etc) covered floor….. fishing dog, cat, & dropped people food out of her mouth (also shoes, tiny toys, etc)…. cuz “I’m WALKING, mom! I NEED my space! I don’t want to be in this round thing that doesn’t go anywhere ANYMORE!”

  10. But how about that endorphin rush exercise gives you…! I’ll bet that more than made up for those sore muscles, huh?

  11. Well, I’m almost always out of my comfort zone lately. I’m within my comfort zone when I’m at work (thank GOD). At home? The kid started driving at the end of October. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it is to hand over the keys to my car – which I LOVE and want to keep forever since they’re not making them anymore (stupid Chevy people!) – to a 15 year old, even if I AM in the car with her. And it didn’t help a couple of weeks ago when she almost totaled my car by making a left into oncoming traffic because, “Well I WAS there FIRST mmmmooooommmm!” And then I’m also making friends with my treadmill. I’m also an introvert, and would prefer to avoid people, but I’m not joining the gym because honestly I just don’t have the funds. I need to lose an exorbitant amount of weight though (truly exorbitant – like well over 100 pounds – not like that girl in the office who says, “Oh I’m SO fat” and yet she disappears when she turns sideways), so I have to do something. To compound matters, because of a medical condition, I have almost constant pain – not always really bad, but still there. Anyway, I was told that 30 minutes daily on the treadmill at 2 mph would help. So I did it. The next day I could hardly move. So I avoided that demon treadmill for about a week. Then I got back on, but for only 10 minutes – that was about 10 days ago. Now I’ve worked up to 22 minutes, so I think we’re making friends. Oh, and the pain has been almost nonexistent for 2 days now… Finally, in addition to the teen, and the full-time job, and the treadmill, because I thought I saw 5 spare minutes in my calendar, I’ve decided to take 3 college classes this term and next so I can FINALLY get my bachelors – a project that is over 6 years in the making at this point. 3 classes will probably come very close to killing me, and I’m going to do it through August – so wish me luck!

  12. I started tracking calories and exercise using the My Fitness Pal app while continuing on the couch to 10k journey (I’m up to 5 miles!) I started YOGA. I’m really enjoying it, but I’m so glad I’m not doing it in front of anyone. I work out in front of my TV, and pretty much constantly yell at the screen. Not very zen-like!

    1. Ha! If they had Yelling Yoga at the gym, I’d be the first to sign up.

  13. Sooo glad that another ‘adult’ (using the term loosely) has also giggled about the ActionVibratory sign. I propose a field trip, but I am sure it would never live up to my imagination….seriously, what DO they make??

    1. I don’t think I want to know what they make. It can’t possibly live up to what’s in my imagination. Heh heh.

  14. Our instructor always says ‘tighten those abs!’ and I’m sure she’s speaking to me because everyone else’s belly looks flat so some day I am going to scream “Are you kidding me?? This is as tight as they get! That’s why I’m HERE!”

    I used to work out on my own. I’d go to my little no frills gym 3-4 days a week, do my weights and elliptical and leave, all while never speaking to another person. Then a friend decided that just wouldn’t do and talked me into joining HER gym. Where there are classes. And people. And locker rooms. All of which create anxiety as I learn to navigate them. She’s an extrovert, I’m not.

    But I really want to try Zumba some time. Which will have to wait, since I threw out my back and can’t move right now.

    1. Sorry about your back, Rea. I hope you recover VERY quickly.

      I hear you on learning to navigate people. Be strong.

      xoxo

  15. Ha! My best friend’s parents live right down the street from CLIMAX World Headquarters. I just mapped it, and it should take 1 minute to get there. ROFL!! I can’t say I have ever gotten lost around there, but I have been to the drive-in theater just up the street.

    1. Omg, I just spewed all over my phone! “One minute to climax headquarters” sounds like a reeeaally bad line from a reeeaally bad porn flick.

    2. I’m about 7 minutes from Climax World Headquarters. If you’ve been reading here for some time, you’ll understand why that’s really, truly the perfect distance for me. If you haven’t been reading here, search the blog for “Walter” and watch the video. 😉 Inappropriate? Yep. You’re welcome.

      1. Seven minutes, eh? Do you find the time varies depending on who’s doing the driving?

  16. I started CrossFit last week! It is crazy and I love it! I have been intimidated by gyms in general and always tried to do my working out at home but after having my 5th baby 4 months ago, I haven’t been able to work up the motivation…and with 30 pounds still to lose, I really needed the push. Just stepping through the door for the first time was the biggest accomplishment for me. CrossFit is different, you work out in a “box” not a gym and you use things like huge tires in your work outs. So, right there, I am feeling more at home already. 🙂

    1. YAY for you for finding something that you love! This is exactly the trick. And congrats at 30 lbs to lose. You’re twice as far as me, and I wholeheartedly agree that JUST STEPPING THROUGH THE DOOR should be congratulated. It’s one step at a time… and then when we find ourselves off the path choosing to step right back on, remembering that we get do-overs anytime we want, starting NOW.

      <3

  17. I’m with Brenda. Vibrators and climaxing? Who needs a gym? Yeah, right. I too joined a gym this new year and have been faithfully going 3-4 times a week. I too chuckle when the instructor tells me to use my abs. Those five kids of mine hijacked mine and they have not been seen since. I even had to approach my instructor in one class and ask for some other exercises to do in class for my abs because the ones she had us doing ended up in a clean up on aisle seven for me. I explained that bladder control while squeezing everything down there was not in my repertoire. Aahhh, the indignities of motherhood! Keep lifting those weights and may the force be with you!

    1. Bahahaha! Angela… this whole comment was joy. Thank you.

  18. I’m doing Zumba too! I started about 2 months ago, and love it! It is far far out of my comfort zone. I’m also an introvert who avoids crowds; in addition to having an unhealthy dislike of exercise. So I am really surprised that I really like it. I’m even taking the extra long hour and a half class that has strength training added in!

    1. GO, MARY! Hooray for choosing health!

  19. Beth, “the better” news is that you will hurt more tomorrow. Yes, you’re welcome. How do I know this? From years of those same group weight training classes, cycling/spin classes. Start ’em up….deal with the discomfort/pain…..and voila, life gets in the way and it’s back to the Start ’em up phase. Facing that right now as yet another baseball pre-season work out schedule awaits. My right arm is already saying “really? again? you’re going to put me through this again? remember what Hotnose said years ago….the Mariners aint gonna call”. If you need further explanation ask DIP

    1. Aw! What a sweet, encouraging message, Jim. My bladder hates you. (But I love you. My bladder isn’t a good judge of character.)

  20. Hilarious! I’ve gotten lost by the Climax and Action Vibratory Equipment outposts as well! Kinda made me wonder why I would waste time going to the gym with these other options available, lol.

    1. Greg’s typically in much better shape than me, just naturally, which is terrible. I’ve never had any luck getting him to exercise with me because he doesn’t need it the same way. But all of this makes me wonder if Greg would join ACTION or CLIMAX with me, instead. Heh heh. Bet he would! I wonder if they sell memberships?

      P.S. Sorry I said CLIMAX with me. I can’t help myself.

  21. I love Zumba! Love it so much that I let the instructor talk me into joining her biggest loser challenge. Which was fine, until yesterday when I had to weigh in, be measured, and get a body fat % reading. Mortified!!! No one knows my weight, except my doctor (usually I close my eyes)…I’m so far out of my comfort zone right now….(I kind of like it!).

    1. GO, SHANNON! WOOHOO!

      You have a LOT to be proud of. Congrats on waving good-bye to comfort and pursuing something even better.

  22. First, thank you for the totally inappropriate laugh! Second… zumba is the BEST!!! The pain IS worth is! Third, and to answer your questions, I’m moving in with a MAN!!! (Yup, I’m this old and have never cut ties to move in with a man. I’ve had a man move in with me, but always on MY terms). Just in case I never leave pithy comments again… learning to really, honestly, truely LIVE with another adult might kill me!!!! (But again, SO worth it!!) 🙂

    1. I’ve found living with other human beings to be extremely outside my comfort zone, but I keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it. 😉

      Wishing you every happiness, Marci. xo

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