By Madison Monroe
I’ve always been active. I was a cheerleader in high school, felt ‘the burn’ with Jane Fonda in my twenties, took up jogging in my thirties and in my forties had a pretty physical job that kept me on my feet and lifting heavy objects forty hours a week. When I turned fifty, I was in the middle of renovating a house and an acre of land. Thanks to my life circumstances, I have always been fairly fit. The one thing I have never been is a big gym enthusiast. For me, they are intimidating.
It’s not like I’ve never been to a gym…it’s just I never liked it. The workout machines are daunting. They come with little or no usage instructions and the instrument panels require a PHD to figure out. The regulars are fit and territorial. The participants in classes are competitive. It was never a welcoming experience and preyed on every self-conscious proclivity I had.
Then I turned fifty-five. With an office job and little left to do on the renovation, I got a little…shall we say, squishy. I told myself, “At my age, it’s ok to put on weight. In fact, it’s normal. Just buy bigger clothes and enjoy some ice cream!” The problem with that was I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I felt sluggish and tired. I was out of options. If I could have thought of any other approach to get back in shape, trust me, I would have done it. But, alas, no viable process presented, so I joined a gym.
The first obstacle to overcome was the early alarm. Waking up at five o’clock in the morning is awful even if you are going on an exciting vacation. It is a discipline of its own accord to wake up that early to workout. Believe me, the second and third day are even harder. But, as with anything you regularly do, it becomes a habit and automated.
The next hurdle was walking in the building. Everyone there looked as if they belonged. They had the right workout clothes, knew how to operate the machines, knew when and where the classes were held and knew each other. I watched and mimicked what others did on the machines and picked the easiest three to begin. I seized the opportunity to go shopping and bought myself some really cute workout clothes…one for every day of the week. Knowing I had something cute and new to wear was motivation to get me to the gym initially. The other thing I did was rent a locker. I am a nester. Where my things are feels like home to me.
After two to three weeks, my uneasiness started to fade. As my familiarity of the surroundings grew, so did my confidence and resolve. It took several months for me to start seeing the results of these early morning workouts, but when I did, my resolve grew to full-fledged determination. There were times I missed a week of workouts, and earlier in my life I would have thrown in the towel, thinking I had failed. Thanks to my age, I now know to give myself a break. Quitting only means quitting if you quit!
I started to work out in November. I am happy to report that this summer, I am rocking a bikini…even if it is in my own back yard! b