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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Workout Woes - Do I Belong On This Planet?

For the past two years, I was lucky enough to be able to have a personal trainer beside me in my quest to lose a lot of weight.  I also had nutrition guidance from a certified nutritionist at the same place where I worked out.  I managed to lose a lot of weight, became much stronger, and learned much healthier eating habits as a result of my time there.  But as the owner of the center told me, "You're not cured yet!" .  Unfortunately, my time at Get in Shape for Women expired last Friday.

Knowing that I couldn't afford another year, I prepared by joining my local Planet Fitness in Derry.

In comparison to Get in Shape for Women (which is a tiny place with a small weight lifting area and four cardio machines), Planet Fitness seemed huge to me, and very overwhelming.  But the way I looked at it was -- it was affordable and had all the equipment (and then some) that I was used to using. So it would have to do.

I've been going to the gym every night since last Thursday and have gone four times so far with my Mom, who needs to work out too.  I find it helpful....we tease each other and motivate each other, so its alot nicer than going alone.  My Mom used to be a personal trainer back in the 80's, she worked for Bally's Total Fitness.  My Mom was very heavy at one point, but suddenly got motivated to lose the weight and it just melted off her.  She got a job behind the counter at the center, and she was so good at giving advice and motivating people that they had her get certified as a trainer.  I wish she had gotten my sister and I to workout back then..... but we were both fairly healthy and thin so I don't think it crossed her mind.  And there wasn't such a big focus back then on making sure your children were eating right and getting enough exercise, like there is now.

Planet Fitness isn't too bad if you want to join a gym for as little dough as possible, but I've encountered some people who seem to want to make people uncomfortable, and aren't very respectful about machine usage and using one piece of equipment for a normal amount of time.  On Tuesday night, my Mom and I were in the 30mn workout area, which is an area where you're supposed to just do one rep of each exercise (but the rep is for 1mn and not just 30 seconds, so its a descent amount of time per machine) and move along to the next one.  Well, there was a skinny woman who was hogging one machine for about 15mn, which is not what people are supposed to do *just in that area*, and the rules are posted.  When my Mom and I finally got to that one machine she was on, we waited for her to finish out her rep and then I politely asked if I could use it.  She had a major attitude about it..... and said sternly "I''m not done."  I explained that in that area people are just supposed to do one rep and move on, and pointed to the sign which clearly stated that rule.  She laughed condescendingly and said, "I don't care, no one ever does that" with a snarl....which was quite disrespectful.  So I informed the manager, and he walked over and told her she wasn't supposed to do that.  I couldn't hear her exact response but it was something to the effect of that she basically didn't give a fuck and walked away.  The manager actually said "well, I think she understands now", which she clearly didn't or just didn't care.

What kind of got to me is that when I told her she wasn't using that area the way it was intended, she looked at me up and down and basically told me maybe *I* wasn't.  She had the attitude that what she wanted to do was more important because she was more fit (although, I would disagree a tad since I could see her ribcage).  And because she's a regular, she was talking to anyone in the area who would listen about how people should just wait until she's done, and that how she was working out was more important.  The funny thing is, she didn't have to use that area..... the machine she was on was also elsewhere in the gym and not in the "quick" workout area which is clearly squared off from the rest of the machines.

I was pretty close to giving her a piece of my mind but I knew I would have said something pretty mean that I would regret or that would have gotten me kicked out for the night, so I didn't.  But its people like her that can be pretty discouraging to someone working hard and trying to follow the rules.  And I encounter at least one disrespectful/impolite person every time I go there.  And there are other people, like the "gang" of men who hang out by the weights, competing with each other.  To my knowledge they aren't rude to people, but its certainly an intimidating group to have to deal with in order to get to the weights and try to avoid being on display or getting in anyone's way.  After all.... us chicks like to use the weights too sometimes!

Although Planet Fitness has the motto that they are a "No Judgement Zone" and supposedly ask rude people to leave, I have found that management doesn't really seem to care (though that probably varies depending on location and owners).  That makes me miss GISW even more.... no one was ever disrespectful or discouraging there.  I saw women at Planet Fitness who weighed a lot more than me....working so hard and doing their best, and it hurts me to think that people aren't being nice to them.  They deserve a lot of credit for deciding to help themselves, and no one should be assholes to them or cut their workouts short because they're hogging machines.

My Mom and I have spent over two hours there on the days that we have gone.... on Tuesday I taught her some things that I know that would help her with what she needs to work on, and she showed me some things she remembered.  We started off in cardio to warm up..... I hopped on the bike, which she tried too.  Then the quick workout area (30mn), then the weights, then some random machines, then I did some planks, yoga positions, push ups and calf raises on a mat and against the wall. 

Then I got on the elliptical to do intervals, and my Mom came over to me and said really sweetly, "I've never seen anyone work as hard as you.  I love you and you're doing such a great job.  I'm so proud of you!"  then said she'd meet me in the locker room because she was done with her workout, but for me to take my time.  I basically cried on the elliptical machine for ten minutes.  Tears blending in with sweat aren't really noticeable at a gym anyway :) .  I don't think I've ever heard my Mom say anything like that to me, and it was nice to hear.  It was nice of ANYONE to recognize how hard I was working to get in shape and take care of myself.

I have definitely had moments of weakness, but the key for me was really to find my motivation.  Everyone has a reason for working out and wanting to lose weight, and underneath the usual responses when asked, people usually have a deeper reason than they realize.  To really make working out and eating healthy a lifestyle choice.... the real answer needs to be discovered.

Its nice to have a workout buddy though, and I definitely would recommend that to people wanting to make working out a habit.  Even if you are running or hiking and not going to a gym.... having someone who will hold you accountable if you don't show up or work very hard.... is very helpful and motivating.

I know I have to give my muscles a break, but I'll return to the gym tomorrow with my Mom again. And tomorrow evening I'm hoping to get my niece Stephanie hooked on hiking by taking her on her first hike in Wachusett Mountain.

P.S. One tip about Planet Fitness and avoiding the crowds.... my local PF actually had a print-out which showed the "traffic" throughout the day for each day so that people could try to avoid their peak times.  The peak times seem to be right after work on the weekdays - so between 5pm and 8pm.  Not every center may have a print out, but they may know the "stats" and be able to verbally provide them to you.

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