The Not So Dreaded Gym

Photo Credit:  Juice Images

I sometimes absolutely dread going but I am always glad that I went. It is at times a necessary evil and at others something I actually look forward to. There was a period of time that I simply refused to go at all. The very thought of dragging myself there was pure drudgery and I simply wouldn't do it. Love it or hate it I always eventually find my way back to the gym.

I'm tired and don't really feel like going, but I do it anyways because sometimes that's just what you have to do.  I packed my bag the night before and remember to take it with me to work. All I want to do is go home after an exhausting day and not enough sleep but instead I slog through the tiresome routine of driving to the gym and heading into the locker room to change into my work out wear. I lock up my bag, grab my I-pod, towel and make my away around the various work out machines being used by sweaty cotton and spandex clad people.  It's almost comical to look around and observe this army of people pumping iron and bopping up and down on stair masters like robots.

Unenthusiastic, I step onto the treadmill, enter my settings and sigh as the belt lurches into motion moving my feet along with it. I have a rule about the treadmill, and without this rule I might give up and never make it through a cardio work out.  Once I start running, under no circumstances am I allowed to shift to a lower speed.  I have to make my acceleration decisions carefully or else I might find myself flying off the treadmill in a ragged heap. I usually start out on an incline, because although I am still walking it still allows me to burn a maximum number of calories and gets my muscles warmed up and my blood pumping.

My heart really isn't in it as I lower the incline and work my way up to a run. After a period of time I feel a cramp invading my right side that worsens with each step. My feet are pounding on the belt and I am scrolling through my I-pod to find a song that will inspire me enough to make it through this workout when all of a sudden I realize that it actually isn't all that bad. I have pushed past the pain. My once heavy feet and legs now feel as if they are hardly touching the ground. As my heart, lungs, legs and arms all work together I become this amazing unstoppable machine. I am no longer uninspired and listless. I am an athlete and I feel as though I can run forever. I increase the speed just because I can, and push myself harder and faster as the endorphins rush through my brain. I am sweating, breathing hard, pushing myself to the limit and it feels great. This acute sense of mastery has taken over and I am in total command of my body and the treadmill. I am strong and powerful as my legs keep my body in time with the increasing speed of the machine. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an Olympic athlete in the midst of the final heart bursting leg of a long distance run. I can only imagine what it must be like to be so well trained, talented, and in such total command of your mind and body that you can compete in sports at the highest level there is. Those athletes run faster, jump higher, and push themselves further then anyone else in the world. I can only speculate on the amount of discipline, dedication and athleticism that goes into being that good. I am just a woman on the treadmill at 24 hour fitness, but I imagine that I am sprinting toward that finish line on my way to victory nonetheless. Suddenly I am thinking of all of the good and wonderful things in my life and how lucky I am to be so healthy and so alive. I am smiling as I run even faster. Gone is that wilting person who dragged herself in here not too long ago, and for this brief moment at least, I feel like I can do anything. When my time is up, the pace drops lower and lower until I am walking. As my heart rate calms down I feel sweat trickling down my back and my tank top sticking to my skin but I don't mind.  Walking towards the locker room,  I can hardly feel my legs at all.  It's kind of like I'm walking on air.  My sweaty face and my flushed cheeks smile back at me in the mirror.

Unfortunately, every work out isn't like this. There are many days when I grimace and struggle my way through the entire cardio work out on legs made of wood, and can't wait for it to end so I can put myself out of my misery. On those days, I try to remember the amazing rush that working out can bring.  Sometimes I don't do cardio at all,  and take a Pilates or Yoga class because I don't have to walk out of the gym dripping in sweat in order to have had a good work out. I go when I have the motivation and I try not to beat myself up on the days that I say to hell with it and don't. If ever there is a day that I am physically unable to go to the gym, I will wish I could get each and every one of those gym days back, good and bad.