Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm Taking This Slowly

I've spent more than my fair share of time over the past few years whining about my inability to exercise. Or maybe I mean that I don't tolerate exercise very well. Or mostly that I just don't LIKE to exercise.

So two weeks ago, when Terese brought up the idea of us joining some kind of exercise facility together, I looked at her skeptically. She broached the subject very, very carefully. And watched my reaction out of the corner of her eye.

As we were talking, I had flashbacks to the last time that I joined a health club, which had to be at least four years ago. I joined this particular one because it was the closest one to our house. I thought - foolishly - that this would mean I would be there several times a week. Yes, I thought. I'd just pop over there and take a few laps in the pool. Or spend an hour or two on their exercise machines. Four days a week. Sure thing.

Gee whiz. It just didn't seem to work out that way.

Yes, partly because at the time I was still in the "no pain no gain" frame of mind which left me totally exhausted with screaming muscles more often than I care to remember, but also because of the atmosphere of that particular club. I was surrounded by clientele who were easily fifteen years younger than me, on average. Every wall surface was mirrored. As I schlepped myself onto the treadmills or ellipticals, there was no escaping staring at my sweating and obviously very out of shape body in stark contrast to the perky soccer mom that was inevitably effortlessly working out on the machine next to mine.

Never in a million years, I was thinking to myself as Terese talked about her opinion of various athletic clubs and facilities that she had already checked out. I mentally checked out of the conversation until I hear a fragment of an interesting sentence - " then I thought about the community center run by the Parks and Recreation department."

I thought about that. When we lived in Wisconsin, our family belonged to a local YMCA. Yes, it had exercise machines and swimming pools and a gymnasium, but that's where the similarity to the private health club near our home here ended. I felt more at ease there because there were many more people that looked just like me on those treadmills. There were little kids running around everywhere, and if I wanted to to walk the walking track, I had to muscle my way in there among the gang of seniors that owned that turf.

We toured the community center last week, and as we walked into the lobby, I was impressed. We grabbed our visitor passes, signed in, and took a walking tour past a pool full of giggling splashing kids and their parents and a basketball game intently played by a large pack of teenagers. As we walked up the flight of stairs to the exercise area, I couldn't resist smiling in reminiscence. Yeah. It felt just like our old Y. There were the seniors pounding the walking track. Sure, the exercise machines were populated with a fair amount of those impossibly perfect bodies, but there were an equal number of people who looked just like me. Just. Like. Me.

There was a noticeable lack of wall-sized mirrors. Oh, yeah. I liked it.

So I signed on the dotted line. I think Terese was in shock, but she hid it pretty well.

I've only exercised there twice, today being the second time. Unlike my last venture into an exercise facility, I'm going with the mindset that my visits there are all about me. Not about impressing the other patrons. Not about letting the staff push me further than I know my body can go. Nope. After getting a basic orientation to the facility, I'm exercising there while paying close attention to my body's response to this very careful re-entry into  exercise.

I know that I can't make any kind of generalizations about my experience there yet. It's far too soon to tell. But there's a few things going for me this time around - I feel comfortable walking into the building, and I can walk OUT of the building. Instead of crawling.....

I'll keep y'all posted.


Anonymous said...

It's really courageous of you !!! I can't imagine myself doing exercise like that !

annie said...

Kudos to you for joining a gym. What turns me off gyms is that it seems to be a race against time to get to the next machine and race as fast as you can when you're on them.You can't pace yourself slowly, as we need to do. I know the Y is different because I joined there years ago, but since I've moved, I don't have one near me. Also, the doctors keep telling us we have to MOVE,MOVE,MOVE, but it's difficult when just getting out of bed is a big effort. Keep us posted on your progress.

sue said...

Good for you. Have fun with it. If you're enjoying it you'll keep going back.

Jenny P said...

Yay! They're opening a Y in my town (someday...), and I'm strongly considering the same elements you did. Then my biggest hurdle would be the time thing with this job...but each step closer is one less to take! (Wait, that sounds counterproductive here...oy.) Congrats (to you and Terese for being brave enough to suggest it), and please keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Good for you, girl.
It is.....all. about. you. (as you would write)
If you keep that in mind all will be well, and those perky bodies will not bother you at all. In fact, they will begin to inspire you. Love you mucho. dianne h

Julia Oleinik said...

Wow, thanks for the support, guys!

And Dianne - you are my inspiration, girl. Love you too.

Robin said...

Good for you! I joined the Y when I lived in Alabama and I loved it. My dh and I joined a local gym earlier this month. He has been 3x a week, I on the other hand have only been 3x this month. It's so hard to go after teaching Pre k all day, and then have to worry about cooking supper and helping my 1st grader with homework. but I know I need to. I'll just keep thinking of you and be positive!