Top Surprises of a New Year's Gym Membership

Hubby and I recently got serious about taking back our health, and the first question we faced was: “How do we work in exercise?” The conversation went something like this:

Me: We could put the treadmill back in the bathroom?
Him: Um. No.
Me: There’s that gym up by McDonald’s (why is this our reference point? I don’t know.)
Him: But when?
Me: You could go before taking N to school in the morning!
Him: Would you really get up that early?
Me: Are you kidding? We’re talking about you here, not me.

We joined, hubby and N started going in the early mornings, and I’ve managed to squeeze in times during kids’ dance classes, Saturday mornings (not early), and whenever else I can steal a little me time. Since this is our first gym membership it’s all shiny bright and new, like a new car. A really sweaty Cadillac, maybe. Below are some of my first-month observations in no order whatsoever.

What surprised me most about our first gym membership...

The Gym is Like High School All Over Again

No one talks to one another. At all. In fact it seems to be inappropriate to make eye contact, though I ignore this one. I mean, I’m not in high school anymore. Strangers and grown ups don’t scare me.

Unless we’re talking about that one guy. You know, the one who asks, “Hey, how to I log into wi-fi here?” as if the wi-fi password isn’t displayed on every wall. The guy who breaks the eye contact rule repeatedly, and seems to be following me around the gym. Yeah, that guy.

On the flip side, the peer pressure of the gym, while also being like high school, works toward my advantage. Because when I want to quit after the second set of reps and I know that guy is watching, I’ll push a little harder. When the person on the treadmill two machines down is at a flat-out sprint I feel obligated to run, at least a little, and a little longer than, oh, thirty seconds.

So good and bad, I’m back to being the body-conscious sixteen-year-old wondering if my sports bra shows through my shirt.

Endless Options to Pick Your Motivation

Some people like to sweat for the sake of sweating. That is not me. At all.

That is my husband. He loves to sweat. He’s a masochist, I think, or insane, or both. He *says* he’s “Man against Machine” and has to “beat” the machine somehow, whatever.

I need something else, like, oh, a TV built in to the elliptical that can play HGTV. Seriously, I could sweat All Freaking Day if I’ve got me some trash TV and a bottle of water. No joke. It helps too that Tropical Smoothie Cafe is literally right next door.

OCD Tendencies Come in Handy

My one concern about joining a gym was a silly one: what do you do if the guy ahead of you leaves the machine all sweaty and gross? Gyms have this “wipe down” policy, and there are buckets (five gallon buckets, peeps) of wipes EVERYWHERE.

For the neurotic germaphobe, it’s heaven. I grab a couple of wipes before hitting the bicep curler (whatever), swab it all down, do my thang, and wipe it again. Ahhh. So refreshing!

How to be a rockstar: stay healthy by staying active.

So far I’m loving the gym. Beyond That Guy and the Death By Cardio class I tried.

But want to know My Ultimate Secret? You know those pins that adjust the weight? Yep, the ones set to the lowest possible weight while I pump my iron. When I’m done, I move the pin down a few notches. Just, you know, so the next person isn’t all, “Wow, what weakling used this thing last?”

And biggest surprise of all, last time I was there I actually had to move the pin down, and was giggling over that old witch trial story, "More weight!" the whole time.