I drove by it almost every day. It is a local gym in a small business center two miles from my home. It opened about a two years ago and most days, when I drove by it, I made a mental note to go in and see what it was like – but I never did. The excuses were that I didn’t have the time. I was always on my way to or from somewhere. How would I fit exercise time into my week? I am in good shape. I don’t have a weight problem. I do yoga and hike and work in my yard. Besides, exercise is so boring, doing all those repetitions – one after another, after another…..
Then, finally last summer, I went in; mostly because I knew someone who had joined and told me how great it was, how much her strength had increased and how good she was feeling. So, I found the time. I went in, paid my membership and decided that I would commit to one day a week and see how it went.
It had everything I needed to work out; a step machine, treadmills, free weights, a combination weight machine that worked a kajillion different muscles, – all of the right stuff. It was clean, uncrowded and a five-minute drive from home which couldn’t be more convenient.
I went diligently once a week, sometimes twice a week for a few months. I didn’t want to use too much weight on the equipment because I’d injured myself in the past when I overloaded my muscles. Then, I would have to lay off exercising until I healed and, of course after a while, lost all interest and it would be a looooonnnnnggg time before I generated enough enthusiasm to give it another go.
At the gym, the monotony of the routine was beginning to set in. Not so much the time spent there, but the boredom of the repetitions and not really knowing if I was using enough weight to make a difference in my muscle strength.
I decided to take advantage of one of the Bootcamps offered three times a week and see how I liked it. I LIKED IT!!! The Bootcamp is like a group personal training class. The Trainer sets up between 10 and 12 “stations” of exercises using free weights, mat exercises (mostly for core work), benches, platforms and straps to create a full-body workout in an hour. Every session he creates a new combination of exercises. Perfect!
I get the variety of doing different routines (not the boring repetition that sabotaged my efforts before), the Trainer knows my abilities and ups the weights when he thinks I’m ready for it and there is always fun conversation with the Trainer and others in the class so the hour flies by.
The results? Profound. I usually attend the Bootcamp once a week. At first my muscles were so sore that it took several days to get full range of motion in my arms and legs without wincing. Now, my recovery time is two days max and I try to fit in Bootcamps twice a week.
One reason I joined the gym was to increase strength in my legs in preparation for a ski trip in February and it worked. I was stronger on the slopes, recovered faster and had better control of my skis. The whole experience was improved and I felt more confident of my abilities.
My core and arm strength has improved dramatically. As an avid gardener who is constantly making changes to her garden requiring lots of digging, moving five gallon buckets of earth and mature plants around the yard, getting the job done requires a good deal of strength. This year I am able to move more weight, dig holes faster and have increased stamina to get more done each day.
I’m nowhere near being a hard-body and I really don’t want to be, but my arm and leg muscles have more tone, definition and are firmer to the touch – not quite the marshmallows they used to be. Overall my time spent working out has been great and I see it being a part of my life.
Too often people decide to work out and they commit to three times a week at the gym. Eventually they experience burn out or they get bored like I did or life gets in the way and they can’t go as often as they want. They may expect too much in the way of results too soon and get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. And they quit. This is a common scenario around New Year Resolution time.
I took a different tack and it is working for me. I am taking my time and learning to enjoy seeing and experiencing the changes in my body. There is no deadline that I need to reach. I have the rest of my life to build on the foundation I have created. If I can’t make it to the gym, I don’t beat up on myself and consider myself a failure because I didn’t keep my commitment. There is always the next class or the next week. Bootcamp is fun because I am sharing the time with others and we joke and laugh. We are creating friendships and bonds.
The lesson that I have learned is that even though I am an active person, usually in motion doing yoga, hiking, gardening, work and home activities, eat a whole food diet that is better than most and have a good emotional life balance, muscle strength was the missing component. I feel good that I am doing this for myself and know that as I age, I won’t be getting old. I encourage you to find a way to improve your strength that is enjoyable and fits your lifestyle so that you can do the same.