I recently started a new workout routine. Previously, I had only ever worked out with members on sports teams; I have a problem with self-motivation, my problem being that I have none. My new wave of motivation, though, came when I realized that the Tough Mudder competition that I had signed up to participate in in June will be upon me before I even know it. After spring break, I knew I had some serious work to do.
I enlisted a friend to aid me in the process to prepare. He provided me with a workout regimen and a meal plan to follow, and acts as a mentor to keep me motivated. As part of the regimen, he created a listed combination of lifting and cardio. I must now admit that I have never lifted in my life. I was nervous to start, but also excited for the new journey I was about to embark on. That was, until I actually started.
I arrived at the gym at 6 a.m.; my partner arrived 30 minutes later, but that’s another story. He brought me to the weight racks, and I immediately froze.
Now, I’ll admit that I am not one to frequent the gym, but I am very much aware of the shared belief that the weight lifting area of the gym is known as the “guys’” part of the gym, while the machines located upstairs are more often frequented by the girls on campus.
Since starting that first day, I have become a bit more comfortable and confident in my personalized workout plan. This week, I decided I could work out alone; I felt I knew what I was doing.
I still believe I know what I am doing, but being without the safety net of my knowledgeable and supportive friend was terrifying to me. With the day being “arm day,” I headed over to the squat racks to start and used the bar for some rows. I knew that I was doing the exercise correctly, but being in an area dominated by muscular men, grunting and lifting ten times the weight that I can, was incredibly intimidating. When I was done with my sets, I immediately retreated to the opposite side of the first floor, which houses another set of weight racks. I finished my lifting sets on that side of the gym and then completed my cardio on an elliptical upstairs.
Part of the reason I was so worried about being in the “guys’” section of the gym was honestly linked to judgment. I was worried I did not belong there, and my heightened level of discomfort was distracting while I was attempted to lift weights directly above my head.
Eventually, I imagine I will feel that I have gained my place in the lifting section of the gym, much like how many girls I know that have done this for themselves. In time, I will gain more confidence in my ability to lift, as well as in my presence at the gym.
I started going to the gym to prepare for a competition, but to also improve myself overall. Lifting will make me stronger and will help me regain the muscle tone from when I was an athlete in high school. I decided to change because I was uncomfortable with where I was at, but I keep that in my mind when I feel uncomfortable at the gym. I would rather be uncomfortable lifting in the gym for 45 minutes four days a week than feel uncomfortable in my own skin every day.
I hope this has provided at least a bit of perspective for someone reading this. Change is hard to deal with, but sometimes not changing is even worse for ourselves. Whatever reason you have for changing, if it’s healthy, listen to it. Change is good and part of life, embrace change and allow yourself to be okay with it.