For the past two years, I’ve had a wonderful relationship with the local YMCA. I pay my monthly membership fee, and then I¿don’t go. The people at the YMCA¿don’t complain, and I¿have the comfort of knowing it’s there, should I ever actually choose to go. In those two years, most days I definitely chose not to go, but, hey, it was always an option.
Recently, though, the YMCA¿and I¿have come to a fork in the road, a real turning point in our relationship. A few things happened that made me start to think that maybe it was time to change it up a bit. For starters, I was beginning to feel guilty about wasting so much money. It’s one thing to pay for a gym membership if you are one of those people who, you know, goes to the gym, but when you’re not, well, justifying paying for it becomes a bit more difficult.
But, hey, fiscal responsibility has never been a real big motivator for me. Seriously, you should see my shoe collection. No, the real game changer came because of a startling revelation — my arms jiggle. I don’t know if I am a confident woman, a crazy woman or just a little too honest, but I am admitting it in print for all the world to read. My arms jiggle, and I¿have decided to — wait for it — lift weights. At the gym. Where they have machines and people with non-jiggly arms who actually know what they are doing.
Although¿I¿am pretty faithful about getting in my morning runs, I don’t do much else in the way of exercise. That suited me fine until I spent every other weekend for a year wearing dresses picked out for me by other people and having my picture taken for wedding albums. Maybe it’s a conspiracy wedding and photographers purposely make the bridesmaids look bad in pictures so the bride will look even better and buy more pictures.
Thus, the recent decision to re-evaluate my relationship with the Y. Like I¿said, I have been a dedicated runner for awhile now, so I really didn’t anticipate being intimidated by the weight room, but something about it seemed really overwhelming. On my first visit last week, I just kind of wandered around aimlessly, trying to look like I¿knew what I¿was doing. Eventually, I gave up on the room with the free weights because I could only think of one exercise to do with the dumbells. I looked around at the other people, but I was the only woman, and the only one lifting less than 87,000 pounds. I¿think I¿had 10 pounds.
Instead, I ventured into the room with the weight machines. That seemed easier to me because every machine has a picture with a short description of how to operate it. I figured even I could follow simple directions. Again, though, the choices were a little overwhelming — machines for biceps, machines for triceps and machines for muscles I’d never even heard of, but suddenly felt the need to exercise.
When I noticed a girl working out with decidedly non-jiggly arms, I just started doing whatever she did. When she was through with a machine, I¿adjusted the weight (down, of course), and just guessed at how many reps to do. I remembered in my college and health and fitness class, Coach Frye said something about working out until “muscle failure.”
The word “failure” sounded really scary to me, but it was really the only guideline I had, so I just lifted until I couldn’t lift anymore, then on to another machine.
After only two days on my new “program” (if you can really call it a program), my arms are so sore, I can barely type this column. Maybe I¿should have done a better job researching exercises or found a real program to use instead of just trying every machine in the gym. I really want to stick with it, though. If I can run 13 miles, surely I can lift a 10-pound weight. I think. Plus, I watch the World’s Strongest Man competition every time it is on TV. That should count as an extra rep or something. It reminds me of when I first started running, and my only goal was to make it a whole mile without stopping. Now I’m trying to overcome the cliche of being the new gym convert, and regain use of my arms.
So far, it really hasn’t been that much fun, but I really want to stick with it, show dedication and endurance.
Plus, I’m not exactly sure how to actually cancel a membership, so that will have to stay plan B for now.
Contact Rachel Parsons at email@example.com.