I don’t recall when I last let my gym membership lapse, but I think it was sometime when my oldest son was a toddler. I used to enjoy the group fitness classes, specifically kick-boxing, but I also regularly took step aerobic classes. Other times I plugged my headset into the cross-training machine or the treadmill and watched the news station on the TV hanging overhead or listened to music on an iPod as I worked out on various exercise machines.
At some point, we cancelled our gym membership because it was difficult to get there with a new baby and I used a treadmill at home. I occasionally used it whenever I watched TV (which wasn’t much) and despite the fact that it was a great place to hang laundry, we eventually got rid of it because when my kids were in the toddler stages, I always worried that one of them would accidentally turn it all and get hurt.
Although I’ve kept active in other ways since then, such as going on hikes when the weather permits or having to go up and down the stairs at home when I forget things, I haven’t been great about being committed to regular exercise. For awhile I was committed to getting in my daily 10,000 steps, but then my Fitbit stopped working. I do have a set of 8-lb. dumbbells that I occasionally use, too, but not nearly enough to avoid cringing when I see my arms in pictures from a certain angle.
When I turned 50 this summer, one of the things on my list that I wanted to do is get back to exercising regularly. I know it’s always been important, but now more than ever since what I do now will certainly affect my future health and fitness.
Last week was my first visit to a gym in however long it’s been since I was at one last. I scheduled it on my calendar to take a class after dropping my kids off at school. I opted for Bodypump, which started about 20 minutes after the start of their school day. The class was described as “The ORIGINAL barbell class!! Endurance strength training where muscle and music collide! Suitable for all levels…The fastest way to get in shape! Level 1-3.”
I’m glad I got there a few minutes early because some set-up was required. I determined what I needed by looking around at what others had already set up. One step, four risers, a barbell pole with weights, a mat and a set of dumbbells. I found out who the instructor was and told her it was my first time in the class (I didn’t mention it was my first time in a gym in over a decade.) She said she was subbing and gave me a couple of pointers of what the class entailed. She told me I’ll probably want to start with the 2.5-lb. weights for the warm-up and then add another 2.5 lbs. for the following part.
It felt a little surreal since it had been so long since I built the step platform and to be honest, I kind of forgot that step aerobics steps even existed since they weren’t in my world for so long. I also figured out how to put the barbells together pretty quickly so I think it wasn’t apparent that it had been awhile since I did that.
I set up my station toward what I thought was the back of the class, but it turned out I was actually in the front. When a late-comer came in after the class started, she asked if it was OK if she made room in front of me. “Absolutely,” I replied.
As I followed along with the different exercises, I managed to keep up with most of it. (Of course my weights were less than many others, but I took that as something to aspire to.) At one point I got a little over-ambitious and had 5 lbs. on either side of the barbells and after several repetitions had to take 2.5 weights off each side. I felt a little self-conscious about having to remove weights, but then noticed a couple other people also lessened their weight during the exercise.
All in all, I considered my return to the gym a success. After the class, the teacher advised me that I would likely be sore the next day or two and suggested that I stretch so I don’t get too stiff. Another fellow student gave me words of encouragement saying that that only happens the first couple of times and after that it gets better and said she hopes to see me at a future class.
That night after Shabbat dinner, I nearly fell asleep at the table (oh, I also had woken up at 3 a.m. that morning and had trouble getting back to sleep so that might have had something to do with it, too. ) Saturday I was a little sore, but not too bad. On Sunday, however, I could barely move my right arm for most of the morning. I eventually took some Advil and did stretches throughout the day and by that evening it was fine.
This was the first step (pun intended) toward this goal and I plan to try again this week!