I go to the gym. I posted about it here a while ago.
Yesterday I achieved GOLD status. GOLD!!!!
It works like this – after a month you get Iron status (well, you don’t just get it, you have to work for it, obviously). After two months at Iron status you get Bronze. After 4 months at Bronze you get Silver. And after 6 months at Silver you get GOLD!!! GOLD!!!!
Anyway, I’m quite pleased about it.
I started at the gym in May 2018. I’d had a bad back. And even when I didn’t have a bad back, I didn’t have a ‘good’ back – it always took me a while to get going in the mornings, it ached most of the time. The right hip wasn’t brilliant either – doctors had told me it was ‘wear and tear’, and I fully expected to be on the list for a replacement within 10 or 15 years. Well, what do you expect at 57??
I knew that exercise helped, but I hadn’t done anything for a while – the bad back was the wake-up call. I googled exercise classes in my area, and a new gym popped up. I went to pay them a visit. Here they are – and they’re not like normal gyms. Far from it.
So – a recap is needed I think.
Despite the back and the hip I was relatively fit ‘for my age’, and I’d certainly been quite sporty in my youth. BUT – I couldn’t do a press up, I couldn’t do a box jump, I couldn’t stand up on the bike, I’d never used a ski erg before, I’d never done a burpee, my running speed on the treadmill was pitiful, and I couldn’t get through a single 4-minute functional block without having to stop for an unscheduled breather. And it had never crossed my mind that I could lift anything but the lightest of the weights.
That was then – this is now.
I haven’t had a bad back since I started going to the gym, and in fact I’d forgotten that my hip was ever bad until I started to think about writing this post. I’d forgotten how hard it was to get going first thing in the morning. That alone just amazes me – but there’s more.
I can do a full press up, a full height box jump, I stand up on the bike all the time, and the ski erg is where I like to start every session. I will never, ever, enjoy burpees, but at least I know what they are – I know I can do them. I run at 8kmph for 3 minutes, then finish with a 60 second burst at 10kmph – it won’t break any land speed records, but it feels like the right speed for me at the moment. And it feels so good to run again. I’ve progressed from the 2kg weights to 4kg and for some exercises I use 5kg or even 6kg. I still have to have an unscheduled breather from time to time – but not as often, and not as long.
I’ve learnt to trust my body. I’ve learnt what it’s capable of.
But here’s the thing. It didn’t just happen. I needed people to tell me how to do it, and to tell me when I wasn’t doing it right. And (and for me this is key) I needed people to tell me when it was time to move up a gear. I needed people to tell me that it was OK to move up a gear.
One trainer banned me from using the lightest weights – seriously, this was a revelation. I didn’t know I could do this. No-one had ever said it to me before – you can do this.
It gave me the confidence to ask about how I should go from doing a press up from my knees to doing a full one from the toes. The advice – just do it, it’ll get easier: I did, and it did. Still not easy – but easier, certainly.
Finally the box jumps. I sort of felt that I would be able to do the full height jump. The trouble is, if you get it wrong… Lots of encouragement from the trainer and a small cheer from the woman behind me – and I did it.
Consistency is key. I went three times a week to begin with, but I’ve been going every other day since January. It’s what I do – I don’t particularly think about it, it’s just part of my routine. I missed a session or two over Easter, and my goodness I could tell!! One of our trainers talks about being stubbornly determined. For me it’s basically a case of not allowing other stuff to get in the way. If I can’t go at my normal time, I’ll go at a different time. If I can’t go on my normal day, I’ll go on a different day. But the important thing is – I’ll go.
One of the problems I’ve had to overcome is stress incontinence. It happens. Hell, I’ve been pregnant four times – it would be more surprising if it wasn’t a problem. If you have the same problem, don’t let it stop you moving. Wear what you gotta wear, do what you gotta do. Do NOT let it stop you. I let it stop me for 29 years. I think it’s one of the biggest barriers to getting women involved in sport of any kind, with all the knock-on effects that has on our general health and fitness levels.
Some stats –
Back in April 2018 I weighed 9 ½ stone (that’s 133lbs or 60.33kilos), which is slightly less than the ‘ideal’ weight for my height of 5’8″ (that’s 175cm). I’ve no idea what an ‘ideal’ weight is meant to mean. For me, going to the gym was never about the weight, it was always about getting fitter. I firmly believe that if you eat healthily and move enthusiastically, your body will find its true shape and size. It might not be the shape and size that the magazines tell you it should be, but it will be right for you.
I’ve no idea what I weigh now – I think it was 9st 2lb last time I checked. Back in May, possibly. But I know that my body feels better and works better than it’s ever felt and worked before and for me that is absolutely what it’s all about.
If you’re thinking that the gym isn’t for you… can I say, with love and affection, that you’re wrong. Gyms are full of people just trying to get a bit fitter or a bit slimmer, just like you. You may have your demons – but they have theirs too. And they’re far too busy taming their own demons to worry about you and yours. So get out there and get those demons under control.
Twelve months at Gold will get me to PLATINUM. Let’s do this.
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