Posted on November 9, 2022 Posted by Athena Scalzi
Last week, my dad and I got memberships in Planet Fitness. I’ve never been a member of a gym before unless you count the YMCA, but I’ve never exercised at the YMCA, I mostly took my grandma to go swimming sometimes.
Anyway, we got our memberships, and today marks a full week of going and training together! So I wanted to write down my impressions of the gym so far and my experience with last week’s workout. Not necessarily as a review of Planet Fitness specifically, but just what it’s like to go to a gym and be in that kind of environment in general. Because it’s pretty uncharted territory for me, and I’m willing to bet it’s a daunting place for a lot of you, too.
I knew when I got my membership that I wanted a professional to make me a workout plan. I wasn’t going to go out there and pretend I knew what I was doing on these machines, and I certainly wasn’t going to just grab some dumbbells and get straight to the point. The good news for me is that being a member means you can talk to their trainer and consult with them about your goals and they will put together a regimen for you to follow.
The way I thought the consultation would go and the way it actually went were quite different. I expected to express my goals to her and then she would just tell me which machines I should use or if I should do more cardio than weights, yada yada. But it ended up being more than that. After I told her my goals, long term and short term, she started by creating a five day regimen for me and wrote it all down in a packet.
Day 1, upper body. Day 2 and 4, core + cardio. Day 3, lower body. Day 5, full body workout.
Each page in the packet is for a different day, then all the machines/exercises I’m supposed to do are listed with the number of reps and sets to do. Then she took me to each machine and not only showed me how to use them properly, but helped me figure out how much weight I should do on each one, and wrote that weight down in the packet to side of the representatives and so on.
She was extremely helpful, and I had been worried before that I didn’t know how to use the machines she recommended, so I was pleasantly surprised when she showed me how to do each one. It made me less afraid of looking like a fool while doing my exercises. I’m sure we’ve all seen pictures of people misusing gym equipment and probably laughed at those, and I didn’t want to be one of those people.
So that took care of a lot of my anxiety about exercising in front of others. It’s still pretty tough, and I know that’s a big reason a lot of people don’t go to the gym. They feel like everyone is watching them, or they don’t want others to see them sweating, blushing, breathing heavily, etc. I know that’s how I feel, at least. But honestly, last week proved what they say is true, no one is watching you. I never felt like anyone was looking at me in a funny way, or judging me, or doing more than just glancing my way because human eyes are naturally drawn to movement. Everyone is honestly focused on themselves and their workouts.
I say all this as a person who looks around me a lot. I don’t know why I look around so much. When I walk on the treadmill, I’m constantly looking all over the room, and it’s led me to see that literally no one is looking at me. People don’t care about you as much as you think.
Overall this first week I was really nervous being in a gym environment and worried about being judged and all that, but it really isn’t and I feel a whole lot better now.
Aside from the anxiety, how is the first week going physically?
The answer is: no wonder.
Getting started can be demoralizing. When you realize how short of breath you get from running or that you can’t even do a single push-up, it may make you never want to try again. I can’t hold a plank or a seated wall for more than ten seconds, I do the lowest possible weight on the shoulder press, I feel my heart pounding in my ears when I run for two minutes. It makes me feel bad about myself and my limitations.
But I won’t get better unless I try. I must try do push-ups if i ever want to be able to Actually make one. I must try hold a plank for as long as possible, and try to complete all three sets of tricep curls. I can’t just sit and hope that one day I can magically climb the stairs of my own home without dying, I have to work for that to be true. And while it sucks, waiting for that magical day sucks even more.
So here’s to many more weeks of crunches and planks, many more weeks of bicep curls and leg presses, and many more weeks of trying.