I don’t really like gyms. I have had memberships at various places over the years and I can’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed going. Sometimes I managed a solid workout and felt good afterwards but mostly I was vaguely amused and vaguely put off by blokes strutting in front of the mirrors stroking their biceps.
So why join now? I think this might be complicated. I have joined the university gym. I can see it from my desk (it’s in the building next to mine) and it never seems to be busy which is good. It’s cheap for staff which is also good. I went and had a little look around last week. It seemed fine – maybe a little tired around the edges but the equipment looked good. I thought about it for a few days – not liking gyms is a pretty good reason not to bother after all.
However, I do want to keep running and it is fairly obvious that in order to avoid injury I am going to have to cross train a little and make sure I build a bit more core strength. I am also stupidly weak – I have no upper body strength at all and apparently the sheep aren’t keen for me to practice holding and turning them every day to build up some muscle. I suspect the gym can help with that. Essentially going to the gym is about being a better (and by that I mean healthier rather than faster or whatever) runner.
That’s not the most important reason to join though. I felt like I needed a space away from my desk where I can go and take time out for me. I can’t shut the door as I’m in an open plan office and I don’t want get stressed or anxious so I need a a sort of safe space or escape route. I think the gym will work for that. Just going outside won’t work because I’m in the middle of Leeds with the city and traffic noise. I will try go on Fridays in-between teaching (I have one class at 9am and another at 3) and although I haven’t got as much time in-between classes I could also do Wednesdays. I just figured that I can disappear for an hour and burn off some adrenalin if I’m having a tough day.
The key to making the gym my safe space (or one of my safe spaces anyway) is to take the pressure off. I need to shake off my history with gyms and just focus on what I want it for now. I may only go once a week. I may use it mostly to get a few short runs in when the weather is hideous and I may never really get into the weights stuff. I think I’m ok with all of that. So I went to join at lunchtime today and took my stuff with me. I filled in the form, got everything sorted and looked around – there were 4 people on the gym so it wasn’t busy but they all looked like super fit gym bunnies so I lost my nerve and went back to my desk. No pressure remember, that’s fine. I’ll have another go another day. For today I’ll take the flights of stairs that trip made me do!