Motivation at the Gym

treadmillI’ve never been a gym person. My favorite form of exercise is walking. But last year a gym opened five minutes from home. The reasonable price and prime location were too good to pass up. So my husband and I joined.

A year went by, and we never went. I’ve always been leery about going to the gym because of my anxiety. I used to worry I’d be on the elliptical or treadmill and have a panic attack. Or have to rush out of a yoga class, thinking I may panic. Couple this with being intimidated by the weight machines, and you could say I’ve never been motivated to work out at the gym.

When my daughters were home this past winter break, they persuaded me to go.  Mackenzie and Talee showed me how to use the elliptical, the arm machines, and even the stair climber (this one really scared me).

After the girls left, my husband and I started going a few times a week, and I liked how I felt. My muscles were toner and I had more energy. And I never had a panic attack.

We went regularly, until my husband had an injury and couldn’t exercise for a couple of months. I could’ve gone alone, but didn’t. I was mad at myself for being lazy.

Recently I’ve realized the truth. I need a ‘safe’ person with me — just in case.

This is strange, because my panic attacks have been under control for years. But old habits are hard to break. I avoid the gym during busy hours. I choose an elliptical or bike that’s on the end of the row. I don’t like being stuck in the middle.

The last time I went to the gym was a couple of months ago with Talee, before she left to study abroad. Now that she’s back, we’ve started our routine again.

When Talee returns to college in the fall, I’m determined to stick to my gym time, even if it means going by myself.  Today I was looking around the gym, trying to think of ways to stay motivated.

I noticed the teenagers and college-aged kids, with their toned bodies and strong muscles. And the middle aged men and women working hard to stay  healthy and fit.

But the ones who really caught my attention were the elderly people. They were riding bikes, walking on treadmills, and lifting weights. Their pace is slow. They might not be able to lift more than five pounds. They have health issues.

But they’re there. Taking care of themselves and trying to protect and improve their health. If they can do it, I can do it.

There’s one elderly man I see every time. It’s difficult for him to balance in his tall, heavy frame. His humped back forces him to lean forward. I figure his gym time is part of his rehabilitation for some type of injury.

This man walks very, very slow. He makes his way methodically down the rows of bikes, ellipticals, and weight machines, in his Velcro tennis shoes and compression stockings. He concentrates hard, focusing on every step. He doesn’t pay attention to the dozens of younger, fitter people working out  around him. He must know that exercise is crucial to his recovery. He trudges on. It might be painful for him. And exhausting.

It cannot be easy for this man. But he does not give up.

I noticed today that he’s walking a bit faster than he did two months ago. And a trainer worked with him on a leg machine, which I’ve never seen him do before.

I hope I talk with this man one day, and tell him he’s my motivation.

If he can do it, I can do it.

 ***

Image courtesy of: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Walking-Treadmill-Workout-20930479

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18 thoughts on “Motivation at the Gym

  1. Yes, you can absolutely do it! That is so awesome 🙂 I recently joined a gym which was a huge step for me, as I was housebound just two months ago… and it’s done wonders. Being physically active is so amazing and good for you… Keep going! 🙂

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  2. I feel the same way in gyms. Luckily I have a small gym where I live. I once walked into planet fitness and as the girl was showing me around I had a panic attack. It was the noise and closeness of machines and the lunk alarm and the weights clanking. I got outside and took a breath got in my car and calmed down in the quiet. So I know exactly how you feel. I find it helps if I’m listening to my music
    Keep trying as my shrink says.
    Traci

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  3. I don’t only hate gyms, I hate to exercise…LOL but like you I am don’t feel comfortable being there…but after you go and start its really not that bad….I hired a trainer the last time I went to the gym and it made it easier….I just joined a new gym this morning. sucked it up and came home got my stuff together and went right back to swim in the pool and enjoy the spa section….am I ever glad I did…I feel so much better and in reality….everyone was really nice to me….so I will be back in the morning…you can do t his alone…cause your really not alone everyone there is there for the same reason and probably feel the same way…..

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  4. Thanks so much for that! Agreed! I’m glad you went, enjoyed it, and will be going back. It does make me feel better, not just the physical exercise (which is great, and today my arms are sore, in a good way)… but when I’m finished I think, I did it, yay! Gives me confidence for the next time. Enjoy tomorrow’s work out 🙂

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  5. You go girl! I hate gyms for the same reasons! It really does help to have a partner of some kind but that’s not always possible in my experience, too. Good for you for staying motivated! I also was able to do it in years past by finding a time to go to the gym when there wasn’t a big crowd–not always possible, I know. Good luck and keep it up!

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  6. Just like your exercises, start with baby steps…smile at the man…everyday. One day follow it with a nod of the head and a great big smile…finally after a few weeks say Hi as you smile and nod. You would probably make his day…and then eventually he will smile first, nod first and say hi first…you may even reach the moment when you can tell him how he inspires you…people love to hear that!!! 😉 Keep us posted…and yay you for working out!!!

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    • Walking is my favorite exercise to do. That’s good you walk with your sister and talk. I walk with my husband, and with two of my best friends. We talk and talk, and actually, it’s great therapy 🙂 I like the gym, to be with more people. I didn’t think I would, but I do. It’s more fun and I have the distraction of other people, so sometimes it makes the workout easier and seem faster. Give it a try!

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