Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weight Room Anxiety and Getting Fit (maybe)

If you've been reading along for a while, I've mentioned going to the gym a few times. Additionally, if you know me in real life you're more than aware of my newfound love for working out. However, doing 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by the same strength training routine got old fast, and as I felt myself tiring of my usual workout, I knew it was time for a drastic change. Enter the weight room. Literally.

Over my spring break, my roommate's brother's girlfriend (it's confusing I know--try to keep up) took me and Roomie to Gold's Gym to work out. Naive and exhausted, we assumed we'd get our usual hour workout in, give or take, but surprise surprise: instead we used intimidating weight machines and bars and actually managed to keep up. Of course, we were struggling through a good portion of the routine, but I think we both knew this workout was the start of a new fitness regime. I'd heard people on Twitter and friends in real life raving and complaining about "leg day", but before this 10 AM circuit I never really understood. Obviously that gym was littered with buff dudes pounding protein shakes, but there were enough scrawny women and out-of-shape newbies to ease our discomfort.

As we went to Roomie's house to shower and start our day, our legs already sore, we discussed the possibility of using the weight room at our school's gym. It's a beautiful facility that has pretty much all the equipment you'd ever need, but it's conveniently divided into lower and upper concourses: the latter of two, our usual spot, is full of ellipticals and treadmills, so as a result is full of girls. Downstairs though--where all the machines we wanted to use are housed--is a different world. You'd be hard-pressed to find any women in our weight room, and the ones down there are muscular and toned. 90% of those in attendance are boys wearing bro tanks and benching the equivalent of my body weight times two. So naturally I was conflicted: I had a desire to use machines and do squats with a 50 pound barbell on my shoulders, but then again I didn't want to be seen as a foolish little girl who got lost on her way to body sculpt class. Thankfully my roommate is much more willing to put herself out there, and she's more than comfortable taking the lead in unfamiliar situations, so I figured "fuck it--why not?" And guess what guys? The weight room is awesome.

Of course, the first time we went down there we were 100% convinced everyone was staring at us and trying to suppress laughter, but as I quickly learned, people that serious about working out are in the zone; they don't have the time or energy to people-watch. Plus pretty much everyone is listening to music through their Beats headphones, so they can't hear much of anything anyway. Also, here's just a general gym tip: look like you know what you're doing and odds are you'll fit right in. If you confidently approach the leg press machine or stand in line for free-weights just like everybody else, any discomfort you may feel should be eradicated. As long as you're using proper form and being safe, you shouldn't be afraid of your gym or feel like there's any area "off limits" to you--if you're up for a challenge you have the freedom to approach the equipment like you're in the big leagues. I would suggest you go with a mentor first who can make sure you're safe, though; there's no sense in putting in all that work just to pull a muscle. If you don't know anyone that's experienced in strength training, workers at your local gym are trained to help and would probably love teaching you; otherwise they just have to stand in the corner watching the clock until they get to go home.

So in conclusion: I've been gone for a while because of spring break, the challenges of getting back into schoolwork after a week off, and all the hours I've been logging at the gym. I'd love to keep writing about my fitness adventures as I get more fit and (hopefully) lose weight and tone up, but I don't know if any of y'all give a shit. Please let me know in the comments whether or not this is an interesting topic, because while this blog is mostly a cathartic process for myself, I want you guys to be entertained.

Okay, I love you and we'll talk soon!

(I mean it, really I do)

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