So I joined the gym

From December until February I signed up for a gym membership and I’m still alive!

Staying fit during winter – we have all heard of this dream. Yet every year I have this newfound hope/delusion that this winter things will be different!  And this winter I will fit in all my dresses. And this winter I will actually compensate for all those wonderful cakes and mulled wine and exuberant Sunday roasts I stuff my face with.

In December I signed up with the Jims close to my work so I could go during my lunch breaks or after work. I paid extra for the classes, and then paid some more for the sacrificial act of signing up, and then paid some more because apparently you cannot just sell your soul to the gym devil for one month, it has to be at least two.

The first time I went I was in full trial mode: how long of a lunchbreak will I need? How long does it take me to walk there? How long to get changed? How do the lockers work? How does the treadmill work? How do the showers work? How on earth do I get changed without flashing at the entire changing room?

After 2-3 tries I had it more or less figured out:

  • walk to the gym (10min)
  • get changed (5min)
  • run on the treadmill (20min)
  • cool down + stretch (5min)
  • shower and get changed (10min)
  • walk back to work (10min)

Treadmill

During those 20min I would run 3 km while listening to some very old music I still have on my prehistoric mp3 player, or listen to the ‘Around the world in 80 days‘ free audiobook from Librivox (‘by Mark Smith, Simpsonville, South Carolina’ – as mentioned at the beginning of each episode and now forever engrained in my memory).

Sometimes a 3km would be easy, and I’d feel really energised and productive all afternoon. And sometimes it felt like the longest run in my life, or I would get super hot, or just moody and had to cheer myself up by buying a cookie (triple chocolate) on the way back. But as I was paying more to also take classes I couldn’t justify only doing one or two 3km runs every week.

I’d enthusiastically signed up for a class in my first week, but after a depressingly hard 3km and witnessing a very intense class when I walked into the gym  I chickened out and cancelled. But two weeks later I had gathered enough courage to actually try one of those classes.

Gym gear

The first class I took part in was Pilates. It was right before the Christmas break, on a Friday after work. Because of the timing there luckily weren’t too many people present. As Pilates is supposedly part yoga, part … something tougher I figured I would be able to at least handle part of it. It wasn’t easy, but I was happy I did my first class, especially right before the holidays. I eagerly started checking which class I could attend during the break to keep dreambody-in-the-making (ahem) fit. Until I woke up the next day and my hip hurt like hell. I attempted a short run a few days later but could really feel it and then basically had to take a break to allow my hip to recover. Somehow I then managed to hurt my foot and all of a sudden it was the end of January before I could return to the gym.

The second class I tried was called Core Stability. My reasoning was: ‘I have a core and yes, I would like it to be stable, so let’s give it a go!’. How wrong I was. This class was super-mucho hardcore (pun intended): lots of push ups, abs, arms, squats, again and again and again. In order to make it back somewhat in time at work I had to sneak out before the end of the class and therefore did not get enough stretching in – I admit my fault there. My arms did hurt a bit in the afternoon at work and I felt like a miserable git, but at least it was Friday and the weekend within reach. But on Saturday morning I woke up at 6.15am because my arms were in bits. They hurt so much and I struggled to lift them – I had to get my boyfriend to brush my hair and brushing my teeth only succeeded because of sheer dedication. I was in pain for at least 4 days and safe to say that I didn’t go back to that class.

Meanwhile we got to February and I had decided to keep my gym membership until the end of Feb. From March onwards it’s usually light enough for me to go running after work (during winter it’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get back so I don’t run during the week as I don’t feel safe enough to do so, unfortunately) and I can do workouts at home in our garage/improvised gym. So I needed to make the most out of it and booked in 2 more classes.

The yoga class was… well, like yoga. Luckily. It did start off with a gong and some very spiritual music, but that was followed by the soundtrack of the Amélie movie by Yann Tiersen. We were focusing on the dancer pose during that class and despite me not having much balance anyway it wasn’t too bad. I did have to sneak out earlier to make it to the shower before everyone else but I could actually use my arms as usual the next day, which is in my view a great improvement from the Core Stability class.

Last but not least I did a Body Attack class. From the name alone you can understand that I was a bit apprehensive, but at least this class’ focus was cardio, not strenght like Core Stability. There was a whole lot of running and jumping, but on some good beats so I would almost say I enjoyed it. Almost, because at one point we had to do burpees (coincidentally this is when I chose to have a water break) but the instructor did apologise beforehand for what he was about to put us through. When I signed up to the gym I was really looking for a dancey-class, but the zumba classes are all in the evening, too late for someone like me who goes either during their lunch break or straight after work. So this class was the closest thing for me and one I would recommend.

This week I will try to fit a few runs in after work before a weekend away, and from next week (fingers crossed) I should start a new training programme. But more about that in a future blog post!

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