Things That Are a Workout

Going to the gym is really, really hard for me.

Not because of the workout, although that part is sucky too. In fact, just squeezing into yoga pants and tying my shoes feels like a workout most days, but lifting weights and numbing my brain on cardio equipment isn't the worst part.

I don't mind the gym when it's empty, which is why 2 AM workouts might be ideal for me, especially on nights I can't sleep anyway, but we've been going lately in the mid-afternoon, and I don't know if it's the furloughed federal employees, millennials that crawled out of their mom's basements, or a running start class at the community college, but there are always so many youngish people at the gym in the middle of the day. And I hate it.

I am digging deep into my twisted psyche to understand why I hate it, because it's ridiculous. I've been closing my eyes, and doing that mental exercise where you take the thing that is bothering you and don't try to ignore it, or kill it, but you examine it lovingly to find out why it's bothering you, but I just find myself swirling farther into anxiety and gym-loathing.

It's a weird mixture of "all those people are looking at me, judging me" and "all those people take themselves so seriously and actually look ridiculous," which is me judging them and probably the reason that I assume they are judging me. I can't touch a weight or pedal a bike without this sense of panic that the people who seem to be hovering around me like a cloud of condescension are evaluating my leg positioning and grip style, ready with a thousand helpful "pointers" about how I am doing it wrong. I have no idea what right looks like, so I know I am not judging them on how they're doing their shit, I just can't figure out why nobody is laughing at themselves when they try not to fart on the incline sit-up board.

They're all so busy making huffing sounds and looking in mirrors and it makes me feel so... something really awful that I can't even identify, as though I had endured some gym-centric trauma in my past that I can't seem to recall.

Every cell in my body wants to retreat to a corner where there are no mirrors and face away from everyone, but then I am worried they will be judging my butt in yoga pants, even with my shirt pulled down to my knees.

It's a real-live anxiety thing for me. I should be getting cardio credits for my elevated heart rate the minute I walk into a crowded (in Colville that's 5 people) gym. I want to die. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?

The crazy part is I have yet to run into a single person at the gym that I know or care about impressing, but I am completely self-conscious about being watched or noticed at all. I try to turn my headphones up loud and drown out all of the panting, grunting people around me but it doesn't seem to help. All the girls are hotter than me and all the guys are watching the hotter girls and I feel like the whole thing is a like a flock of peacocks strutting around making obnoxious mating sounds and I am like an out-of-place prairie dog feeling like I came to the wrong party. 

It has been pointed out to me that I had a similar mental resistance to financial issues but have more or less pushed through and (pretend) to feel more comfortable with the decisions I am making about my money. It has been suggested that I will have a similar break through at the gym, and I hope to God so because it's getting worse.

I know I am frustrated that in the almost two months of fairly regular short workouts and yoga, mixed with a lot of walking on my trip and some time on the ski hill falling down since we got home, I have only gotten progressively more sore and tired and yes, even gained weight. I am trusting that I will have a break through there as well, but I'll admit my faith is shaky right now.

I also know I have a long history with narcissistic males "teaching" me how I needed to workout, telling me what I was doing wrong and going into great detail about their extensive knowledge of physical fitness and how clear it was that I had no idea what I was doing, which might have been true, but didn't feel great coming from the same men who lamented not knowing me back when I was "really hot" and thin, but were committed to helping me get there again, for the sake of our relationship and with the hope they could be more attracted to me (PSA: Don't marry guys like that. You're welcome). So sweet.

So I have some beef with the gym. And very limited knowledge and exposure, save some quick-and-dirty lessons that I was given in order to teach weight class for P.E. as a highschool substitute. I know I have SO much to learn, but I also know I am super resistant to most benevolent teachers.

I want to go to the gym with somebody who can also make fun of themselves in the mirror and laugh when they get really bad vertigo getting off the treadmill. I want to go with somebody who doesn't take it so seriously and knows they're as ridiculous as I am. I want to get healthy and strong but I don't want to have panic attacks doing it. I want to figure out how to enjoy it.

I am open to suggestions here, or psychological evaluations, hypnosis, lobotomy...  sign me up. I want to get into it like normal people. Maybe a personal trainer? I tried a few cross-fit type classes and it wasn't much better - even more personal attention and forced interactions. But maybe I should try it again.

Right now, I am forcing myself to go out of sheer discipline and commitment, and some times when it's emptier aren't so bad. But sometimes are really bad. Tonight I am going to a Zumba class with some friends and I am looking forward to being able to be ridiculous with them. Because there's no other way to do Zumba - it's impossible to take yourself seriously at Zumba unless you're Beyonce.

100% me at the gym.



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