You know it’s been a long time since you’ve been to the gym when…they had closed for two weeks for renovations, moved the entrance to the back of the building and completely transformed it. And I had no idea about it until I turned up yesterday morning!
The gym is a mysterious place to the average bystander, watching these people in workout gear, carrying sports bags and a bottle, marching with purpose in and out of the doors – usually covered in posters of super fit athletes. If you stand and watch for a few minutes, you’ll notice the rate that people walk in and out of those doors will be similar to standing near a beehive, watching all the worker bees flying out and returning again.
Before I finally took the plunge and joined the gym, I had no idea what might be inside. It felt like an exclusive club only for the elite in fitness. So imagine my excitement – and anxiety – when the day finally came for me to become a member!
My first trip to the gym was extremely hilarious, at least to me it was, and you can hear all about it here:here
So yesterday, I decided to get back into the gym experience after having a bit of a break. To my surprise, I found other people wearing gym clothes walking around like headless chickens, having no idea which way to turn. You see, the usual entrance was blocked off. Thankfully I was walking from the back of the shops so I could see the huge sign that indicated the new entrance was right in front of me.
Two builders were stood painting the doors and the fumes gave me a slight headache as I walked through them following four or five gym buddies (or not, as I don’t have any gym buddies, but hey we’re all part of the same club so everyone is my gym buddy) In my video, I explained the pain of having to climb so many stairs to get to the gym – the pre-workout, I like to call it. Well, now they have added at least another 10 steps and the elevator was nowhere to be seen.
By the time I reached the front desk I was out of breath. Oh man, it’s been too long. “Where is the gym?” I asked the nice lady at the desk, she gave me a slightly puzzled look for a moment – perhaps I should have known that, perhaps people don’t stop going to the gym and then randomly come back? Who knows what was going through her mind, but after a moment to recover herself she smiled and said “just through those doors” and pointed to a pair of doors at the end of a long corridor.
Oh I see. More stairs is not enough of a pre-workout, now we need to have a long walk too.
As I marched forward, I contemplated my life – just kidding, the walk wasn’t that far. But I did wonder what the new layout would be. I do find my anxiety goes into overdrive whenever I am faced with change.
I pushed the doors open and walked into….THE COOLEST ROOM I’VE EVER BEEN IN.
Wow, I wish I took a picture. (But I never know if that’s acceptable, like I never see any “no photography” signs, but at the same time feel like it’s an unwritten rule that you just don’t stand in a gym and take pictures of people working out.) This gym room was three times the size of the old one. The weight section – which was previously one of the larger areas of the gym, and one I liked to avoid – was even bigger now. There was a runway of sorts in the middle where a man was flipping a massive tyre up and down and a woman was bent over grabbing onto what looked like some sort of trolley laden with circular weights and running with it. Yeah, pure Rocky style.
To the far corner were my favourite machines – Treadmills, Cross-Trainers, Stair Master, Bikes etc. And to the front by my right was a whole new area that totally reminded me of the show “Biggest Loser” with cattlebells, floor mats, ropes and a lot of mirrors.
The phrase “May the Odds be Ever in your Favour!” came to mind as I prepared to begin.
So, I decided to go on a treadmill for a nice warm up. I find plugging myself into some upbeat music (The Soundtrack for the movie “Trolls” is SO FUN) and going for a nice walk on an incline really wakes up my muscles and allows my mind to run away while giving me a good workout. I thanked my lucky stars there was one treadmill free, and noticed they had been moved to face a stretch of windows. “Oh, a workout with a view,” I thought to myself. Previously, my only view was watching the men in the weight section standing in front of a mirror watching as they pump weights. Which was a bit entertaining, but I liked the idea of an outside view much more.
I was distracted with getting my phone to start playing music as I stepped up to the Treadmill that when I finished with that and set up my workout, I looked up and immediately laughed. Not only were these machines crammed so close together I could feel the heat radiating off the shoulders of the people running either side of me, but I noticed that everyone had a nice view outside the windows – except me. Yes, my treadmill was facing a beam dividing two windows. In order to see outside, I needed to lean to my left or right, which would not work because as I mentioned, I was so crammed in, I would be imposing on another gym buddy’s workout.
So for 11 minutes, I ran (ok walked briskly) facing a beam and listening to “Can’t Stop this Feeling,” trying not to laugh the whole time.
I jumped off the treadmill, my calves slightly burning already – and strolled over to the stair master. I placed my hands on the rails either side and stepped up to the feet thingies – yep, “feet thingies” is all I can think of to describe the um…sort of pedals? I tapped in my sex, weight, age etc into the machine and pressed the start button. Homes under the Hammer was on the TV – which always baffles me as to how that could be motivating for one to do an intense workout – and I was trying to read the subtitles while putting all of my weight on one foot, pushing the pedal down and then doing the same on the left foot. The effort it took to do this simple movement was immense. Confused, I looked down at my machine; it said “Level 1”. LEVEL ONE? It was taking all the strength I had in me to push one pedal down at a time and apparently it was only on the beginner level! I pushed and pushed and pushed and grunted and really worked to get some momentum, but the pedals remained stiff and difficult. A man jumped up onto the stair master next to me, I casually glanced over at his machine and watched as he pressed another button to make his machine light up and he moved up and down with ease. I looked at my screen again and saw the words “Please press START to begin your workout” roll across the screen. I pressed the button and boom, my pedals were loose and I had good movability. Sadly, my thighs were now burning and I needed to stagger off and try something else.
I had a bit of a fun on the exercise bike, allowing my thoughts to take me to Monument Valley and imagine cycling all around the desert plains, careful to avoid the chipmunks and cactus plants. But before long, my legs were really done. In fact, I felt like I couldn’t move the pedals anymore for I had seized up.
I got off the bike like you’d get off a horse and strolled across the gym to the “Biggest Loser” area (that’s my name for it) A lady was holding onto a pair of stretchy ropes and doing squats which looked quite interesting. I decided walk up to the frame and grab a pair of these ropes and try it for myself. As I pulled on the straps, I noticed that there was not very much stretch in them after all. Infact, they looked like handles your feet should go in. But honestly, I had no idea what you’re supposed to do with them. I readied myself to do squats like the lady but she suddenly confessed that she had no idea how to use these things and made it up.
I laughed politely and said “Ah yes, there are so many ways you can work with these,” not wanting to look like I also had no clue what I was doing, I leaned forward to try and do some sort of plank in the air, but stumbled forward and shook my head to myself saying “nope, that’s not going to work” then I thought I would try and do a push up of some sort but instead my arms sprang out either side of me as I fell forward and smiled sheepishly to the lady who I had almost pushed with my left arm. I finally settle on leaning backwards with my legs forward and pulled myself up like doing a press up…but imagine the floor was at a 45 degree angle and I was doing it upside down….I grunted as I pulled myself up, after three attempts my biceps were now burning and my arms were trembling. I was done.
I staggered over to the “Skipping ropes” on the floor and thought “I’ve seen people whack those on the floor to make a lovely ripple, I’ll try that!” but when I got to the ropes I noticed they were not skipping ropes, but rather, ACTUAL ropes. Heavy. I grabbed the handle of each rope, bent my knees with my back straight, put on my best “Gym face” and….I shook those ropes to the best of my ability, trying to make them ripple. But instead of a beautiful wave, the ropes just flew up and down flatly and ugly making the most unimpressive noise as they did so.
And I was grunting again.
I can’t even say that in my head I looked like a champion because this whole exercise was facing a wall mirror so I had no false pretenses here, I KNEW how ridiculous I looked.
Finally, I trudged over to the cattle bell area. One last activity, I promised myself. I noticed there were several sizes and as numbers mean absolutely nothing to me, I decided to try the teeny tiniest cattle bell there. It was 8KG. As I grabbed this cattle bell with one hand and pulled it off the stand, my back bent forward and it immediately fell to the floor. Turns out, 8KG even in a tiny package weighs A LOT. So, I held this weight with two hands, my arms out straight and I pulled it up out in front and let it swing down between my legs. Unfortunately my head followed and I nearly fell on the floor.
Then I remembered, you’re meant to bend your knees in a squat as you come down and lift the bell up again out in front. So I attempted to do that again maybe five times, until my abs were now screaming at me to STOP, STOP, STOP.
So there we go, a whole new gym with more activities and ways to make a fool out of myself. Don’t worry, I didn’t even try to flip the tyre. That’ll be next week.
And yes, I’ll be going onto YouTube to find out how to do these workouts properly.
If you’re thinking about joining the gym, my advice to you is to book an induction. At my gym you had to pay extra for an induction so I decided I’d figure it all out on my own. But really, just pay the extra fee and learn how to do it safely. It’ll save you some pain!
P.S. If you’re wondering what that nasty bruise is all about then you might have missed this post:Review; Oh snap, you’re not a gymnast anymore Laura!