The gym and why it sh!ts me

This morning I had a re-assessment at the gym. I’ve had these before and they give me whole bunch of exercises I don’t do, show me machines I don’t like and after this I just return to my old routine. Last time, a particularly enthusiastic woman gave me about seven or eight exercises to do on the mat, after my work-out called various things, like 1000 crunches, maniac swinging sit ups, hard core planks and stretches. She told me if I really want to smash out my work-out, then this is what I need to do. I don’t want to smash out my workout. I don’t want to arrive at work a quivering, nauseous wreck, unable to lift a tea cup. I want to run and shut out the world with my headphones. To steal a line from the Piano Man, to forget about life for a while.

I don’t stretch at the gym. I usually arrive thinking “Ugh, thank god, the morning school run is done, I will just jog for a bit, then shower and go to work.” There is no room in my head for complicated warm ups and warm downs. I can’t coordinate my arms and legs into crossover patterns while holding in my core and my butt. I simply want to watch morning TV on the treadmill at a slow run. I realise while the running is good for my brain and cardio health, I am really only using about 1% of the gym equipment and I am still chasing the elusive biceps. I need to do weights.
I need to do some weights because I have the baggy, saggy, side- boob fat happening. I know it’s because of my limited range of motion from the frozen shoulder injury, but that’s better now, so I have no excuse. I see the lady who is doing my assessment. She is the smash-out your work-out one. I come clean. I tell her I lost my program sheet with all the exercises on it months ago and after a few frustrated attempts looking for it, I gave up. I do the machines I like, I have done a few classes, but mostly I just run slowly on the treadmill then flop into the massage chair. They shouldn’t have massage chairs in gyms.

I tell her the truth. She asks me which machines I’m using. I point at the treadmill. She asks what else and I point at the massage chairs. I know they are not technically work-out equipment, but they are equipment and I do use them. She mentions the other machines and I tell her, the bikes bore me and they are a little bit too hard, because I am lazy. I don’t like the thing with the arms and legs going at once, because I feel like a dick. I feel like the Friends episode where Phoebie is running. I feel unco and like I’m not really exercising. I feel a little bit like some kind of weird air dancing. I know it’s a gym for women, and I shouldn’t care how I look, but I can’t use the cross trainer one because I’m too self conscious.

She shows me some equipment I can use to target my Lattisimus Dorsi, which is what I am terming the back fat. She shows me some parts of machines I had never seen before. Some of the weight and pulling ones also go from the back. I didn’t know that. She writes down how many repetitions I need to do and I mentally half it. She looks at me saying, you need to do 12 of these five times. I know I will use this machine but I will only do two. There is too much faffing about changing the lugs into the holes and being careful about how I get in and on and off and how to stand. She also shows me how to hold the 20 kilo weight close to my chest and be careful because some people have broken their feet and crushed their toes. I decide to not change the weights.

The other one she shows me is the stair one. This is new and I’ve watched people on it, but there are too many buttons and I don’t know how to use it. She tells me to get on and shows me the buttons. One is for on and the other for off. There are two more for go faster and slow down. She suggested I could do sprints but sometimes people fall, so I think I will do this slowly, it won’t help the side boob but will work the butt, so I’m okay to do that. I look again at the on button, then the slow button, those are the ones I will be using. She warns me that I need to be careful getting off this as it slows but kind of keeps going. There are numerous images flashing through my head of me descending the stairs backwards and landing on my arse. I remind myself to exit gracefully.

She asks me what classes I am doing. I did one Pilates class and it was okay but I couldn’t roll over in bed the night after and it hurt to laugh and move and kind of disabled me for a few days. I did a yoga class once, but it didn’t feel right at the gym. I need candles and Indian chanty music. Not that it matters, but it didn’t really feel like yoga. It just felt like stretching and there wasn’t enough meditation. I could never be a gym junky or a smash out your work-out kind of person. I prefer lying on the ground stretching and I don’t like planking. Planking is awful and mean.

I know the kind of exercise I like. It is really exercise without any rules, I don’t try to beat a PB on the treadmill, just run for twenty minutes, which is double what I used to do. She suggests this as a warm up, this is news to me, I figured it was the whole workout. We agree that I will start to use a few more machines, but only the easier ones, the safe ones and the less complicated ones. I did not join a gym to become an engineer of knobs and buttons or a workplace health and safety officer. I want it easy, where I can run until I get tired and stretch after, if I feel like it. I told her, I don’t think classes are for me, because I’m not very good with my left and right and I don’t really like being told what to do.

I think she may have gone back to the file where she had hidden my program and scribbled on it, “Do not give me this woman again, she is lazy, fussy and difficult. I hate her.”

I exercise because I like the rhythm and routine of it. I go every second day so I can enjoy the spaces in between. I go to enjoy having a day off. I go because of cake and back fat. I go because it sometimes motivates me to vacuum and I hate wearing leisure wear unless I can justify it. I much prefer incidental exercise, walking the dog outside but this alone will not give me biceps or banish the back fat. So this is why I go to the gym but also why it sh!ts me. I prefer to walk outside.

Click Here for a link to some exercises to get rid of back fat. They all look too hard to me, I won’t be doing any of them.

New Therapy
I’m offering Walk and Talk Therapy as a new session. This way you have an excuse to wear leisure wear, walk outside in the fresh air to chat, get some endorphins and tick off your exercise for the day. The sessions will be run from Wellington Point, taking in the wetlands and Bayside areas for an hour and you set the pace. I can’t run and talk and I’m not a personal trainer, so these are really a casual stroll to change up the formality of a counselling room. Sessions are one on one. Contact me for an appointment or for any questions. M: 0402 329 259 e:

1 reply
  1. Neeno
    Neeno says:

    Had a real giggle tonite Rach. Not sure about the back fat but it sounds like the walk & talk in the fresh air is a winner. Been getting some wonderful fresh air & walking with the preteen this week In Tassie ..Great for the soul as well as the thighs! X


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