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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

Dating gym......

Yes I said "dating gym"... because that's what it is when you're going to and trying out new gyms to figure out which you're going to stick with. That is what I've been up to this last week. It's like dating. So many things to consider. Where is the gym? What type of gym? How much does it cost? What are the hours? What kind of people go there? Is it clean? Does it have good selfie mirrors? (yes that last one is a thing). But honestly there's so much to consider. And just like dating, you get nervous. Like real nerves. Well maybe not you, but I sure as hell did.

First let me give you a brief history of my relationship with gyms. I dabbled a little bit here and there from my college days on into my 30's. I never had a membership. I only ever went with friends. It wasn't really a big deal for me. Not until later. 7 years ago I started going (in my late 30's we'll just say). Every morning I would go to my apartment gym. It was quiet and rarely anyone was in there. I could just be on my own with no intimidation or embarrassment for not having the perfect form (or just being that big girl trying her best). Then I graduated to a women's gym in my neighborhood. It had more stuff! Classes, more machines, so many more options and I loved it. And I was with my people. We were all ladies just working to feel better, look better, be better. And then COVID. So that's where it stopped. but I kept working. I knew that I loved working out and lifting weights and I always wanted to be in a bigger gym with more weight options so I could really work on my strength and physique. So I decided that went I was able to go back to the gym that finding a place to support my goals was important.

But y'all!!! Going back! It felt like the first day of school and all you can think is "Don't make an ass out of yourself."

I tried out a smaller gym that was geared toward competition lifters. Now that was intimidating. I didn't know where anything was. I didn't know anyone there. And I didn't have a whole lot of time. Everyone looked so ripped except for a few that were working on goals. For the most part everyone was really nice. But the whole time I seriously felt like I didn't belong there. I really wanted to, because every single one of the people in there I admired. Not because they looked great... because the results that they've worked toward tell a story. It's the story of consistency and determination and DUUUUDE I'm totally here for that. But I was just as nervous leaving as I was when I got there. I wanted to fit in and feel comfortable there, but for some reason I didn't feel like that was going to happen just yet. It really bothered me the rest of the day, but then I remembered that I was new once before as well. And it's ok that I don't feel comfortable. And it's ok that I don't fall in love with the first gym I see. (Dating... remember).

Next I tried a more commercial gym. And not a women's only gym this time. And I felt so much more comfortable, but still a little nervous. I had a plan and I knew what I wanted to work on, but still had to get a lay of the land. I spent most of the time on the weight floor which was a little intimidating as most of the other people there were men twice my size. I walked out thinking, I'll be back tomorrow to see how I feel again. The next morning I got up and did the same thing. And I felt more comfortable. I worked out. I had a feel for everything. And yes, I was still a little nervous and intimidated and dare I say even a little out of my comfort zone. But it was enough to nudge me to push myself a little harder. The next morning I got up early early and went on my 3rd date. I wanted to see how it felt on a Monday morning since the weekend is always a little different. it wasn't crowded and busy. I still had that nervous feeling.... a little different this time. Because now I'm seeing the regulars. And they're seeing me as someone new who is there every single morning now. So now I have that push again. The push to go a little further and be a little better than I was yesterday because now I feel like people are expecting results from me. And that didn't intimidate me as much. It just felt like a push. It felt like motivation to work harder. And I'm here for it.

When I got back into my truck I sat and thought for a minute. Why was I so nervous going into the smaller gym than the commercial one? I was welcome in both. Both places had what I needed to work out the way that I liked. And what I realized is that it's all in my head. Just like when I was nervous about going from my small apartment gym to a bigger one. I remember feeling that I was safer in my emotions when I was alone. I wasn't afraid to look like a fool. But when I'm around more people all of a sudden there's some pressure to look good, move well, and push myself harder. And then after a few years I felt comfortable. Now going back into the gym, it's the same thing. So maybe I'm not ready for a pro-gym just yet. But maybe one day I will be (because I really want to be). For now I'm going to hang in the commercial gym. I'm going to work on getting back to my strength level and find my little community there. I've got goals to work on and push myself to.

Now, if you're reading this and you're a bonafide gym rat, here's a lesson. Be nice to the ones who look confused, nervous, and uncomfortable. They're there to work on themselves like you did once. They're not taking up space that's yours. You do not own it. Welcome them. Cheer them on.

Now, if you're reading this and you're just starting out. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and don't worry about what other people think. You've got goals and you need to work on them. So go do that. Just find a safe place where you can go and do your thang.

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