I don’t know what it is about 2019 and trying out new things. First there was the choir, and that was stressful enough. Because, as you are by now fully aware, I really hate trying new things. But this week, I joined a gym! I’m always banging on about how I consider myself to be physically fit – still a work in progress – but the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. I have been exercising regularly for eight years (the only gaps being due to illness or injury), and I work out five times a week. Up until now, all my workouts have been done at home. Let’s face it, it’s easier. If it’s pissing down with rain, you can still work out. It costs practically nothing too – apart from the DVDs, and the cute exercise clothes and trainers to keep you motivated. Still, I’ve always professed that if I ever got around to purchasing gym membership, I’d be the sort of person who wouldn’t let it go to waste; I would actually use it. I love exercise; I’d go as far as to say I’m addicted to it. But the thought of walking into a gym as a complete novice; facing all those alien machines, big muscly men staring at their biceps in the mirror whilst curling dumbbells…well, that was a bit off-putting.
However, since 2019 has turned into ‘the year of trying new things’ (even if sometimes I’d dearly love to sit on the sofa watching more Netflix), and on the recommendation of my friend Jade and a January membership deal (three months membership for the price of five – yay!), I thought I’d finally join a local gym. Y’know, just to see how I liked it. And for the blog; like I always say, I’ll do anything for the blog – quite literally.
I did my first gym session earlier this week. I’d accidentally managed to miss my induction (some communication error on the phone; an accent I didn’t understand, me being too polite to ask the person on phone to repeat themselves, me accidentally asking to book ‘my abduction’ rather than ‘my induction’ and needing to get off the phone very quickly – you get the gist). But I found out on collection of my key-fob that an induction (not abduction) was optional. Great! My first gym visit without a clue! What could possibly go wrong? All the gear – no idea. Still, due to my extremely anal personality type, I always do plenty of research before I commit to anything, so I’d watched a fair few YouTube videos regarding beginner’s gym tips, and downloaded the gym’s own app which showed you how to use practically every machine they had. What’s more, all the machines had instructions on the side, so it was pretty easy to work it out.
I was surprised about how busy the gym was at ten to nine on a Wednesday morning. Didn’t these people have jobs? Well, I have a job, and I was still at the gym at ten to nine on a Wednesday morning – so who am I to judge? Plus, gym membership isn’t exactly cheap, so they probably did have jobs. Anyway, I’m getting off track. Who cares about jobs? We were there for self-improvement! I did feel a bit awkward walking in for the first time, not really knowing what I was doing, but I just tried to shrug that off and get on with the business in hand. I’d say the mixture of the gym population was very even; men and women, young and old, fit and not-so-fit. There were the obligatory few muscly men lifting barbells in front of a huge mirror whilst checking out their biceps, but I’d mentally prepared myself for that. In the entire session, not once did I see a single person warm-up or warm-down (so I felt a bit awkward about doing that too), but I’m a stickler for the rules, so I did both. I also found out that gym etiquette seems to dictate that you don’t look at other people in the gym. First rule of gym-club: Don’t talk about gym-club. Keep eyes averted. Don’t smile. Don’t make eye contact. Look confident and like you don’t give a toss. So, just a typical day in Britain, really. I could do that.
I’ll tell you right off the bat; I was there for the machines. YEAH! I wasn’t particularly interested in the dumbbells and barbells and yoga balls and classes – I have tonnes of equipment and I can do all of that at home. In my opinion, if you want to make your membership count, you may as well use things you wouldn’t normally have access to. I had two goals in mind taking my first step into the gym. 1) Do a complete-body workout. 2) Use every machine I could humanly fit into the space of an hour – just to familiarise oneself. Those two aims didn’t quite marry-up, to be honest; I’d have been better off using just a few machines with the goal of working out the entire body. But y’know – kid in a candy store here!!
So, I didn’t use every machine they had – but very nearly! Elliptical trainer, treadmill, recumbent bike, assisted pull-up thingy, leg press thingy, chest press thingy, leg-extension thingy, abs machine thingy etc, etc. As you can see, I’ve got all the gym terminology down. I think I got a pretty extensive workout in just over an hour. The hardest part was working out how much weight to set each machine to (I was working on ten reps with three sets per piece of equipment). I didn’t want to set the weight at any namby-pamby amount, but I didn’t want to overdo it either. But I think I might have.
When I got home, I admit I felt a bit weak and wobbly. Like I say, I do consider myself pretty fit, but I guess there are just some muscles you don’t use if you don’t go to a gym. I felt so systemically weird that I even ate some carbs. Yes, CARBS! If you’re interested, I had a homemade gourmet fish finger sandwich with cheese and rocket (fish fingers and wholemeal bread, how I’ve missed you!). But I really felt a carb-refuel meal was in order, and I did feel much better afterwards. And the day after? Well, my arms and legs (both pretty sturdy by now) didn’t feel too bad – but the muscles around my ribs and across my chest and back were bloody murder! Still, I always have pain (good pain) after new exercises, so I’d have been surprised – and probably disappointed – if I didn’t ache somewhat.
So, what are my overall thoughts on my first gym experience? Well, I think I enjoyed it! I think I’ll enjoy it more so when I go back again with a bit of experience under my belt. I can even see me getting hooked. Maybe I’ll try out a couple of instructor-led classes (the spin class sounds good), or you can even do a virtual class (but that is a teeny bit like doing a DVD at home). But I think the exercise options are endless. Oh, I’m sorry for all the gratuitous selfies – I felt a super-self-conscious taking them. But the blog demands and I obey those demands. Anyway, would I advise you try out using a gym? Sure! Like I say, the clientele really did come in all shapes and sizes – and all ages. You just have to remember you’re there on your own fitness journey, not to compare yourself, your body, or your gym knowledge (or lack of, in my case) with anybody else. Give it a go, even if just a taster session – I think you might like it. And try not to miss your induction (or your abduction) or at least ask the guy with the accent on the phone to repeat himself so that doesn’t happen.