Monday, August 11, 2014

Ranting On...the Gym

This week, I have randomly decided to do two things: one, we're going to, by the end of the week, get back into twice a day articles (sadly, this is likely not happening today because I am on a weird sleep routine and just got back from the gym and have plans tonight, but by Friday at the latest we'll get back on that schedule).  The second thing, though, is that I think this is going to be life improvement and motivation week on the blog.  I have chatted with a lot of my friends in the past few weeks, some of whom read this blog, and they have talked about hitting a rut in their personal lives.  Maybe it's a relationship that's not working (or a relationship that's not starting), maybe it's a road block occupationally or with their weight, or maybe it's just general unrest.  Either way, it seems to be something, and maybe some of you readers I don't know in real life (I know you're out there!) are hitting those roadblocks too.  Therefore, I'm going to do five days of articles about advice and random topics that I personally am constantly working on (because I also have caught a bit of the unrest and want to self-motivate as well).

We're going to start with everyone's favorite place, the gym.  I joke, but I'm going to confess something right now: I actually quite like the gym.  For years this was something that would have been met with riotous laughter from me.  While I have dieted off and on through the years, I have never really been what would be characterized as an exercise enthusiast.  I have had gym memberships where it felt more like a donation to Lifetime than a service I was paying to use.  However, my attitude about the gym has changed, as I see it differently now that I go regularly.  After all, there are so few places in life where a group of strangers get together to improve their lives.  We have so much negativity in the world and so much of our lives are geared toward complaining, but not at the gym.  People go there for different reasons (to lose weight, to gain muscle, to get a massage and a smoothie, to escape home and work for a yoga class) and in different stages of their well-being, but it's all about self-improvement, and there aren't enough places in our lives where that is celebrated.  Looking at the gym in that mindset, it changes your perspective.

Still, I will point out that I have some problems at the gym, and people's attitudes toward the gym.  The first one is something that happens before you even get there, and that's your support system challenging what you are doing at the gym.  I wrote about these types of people in my article on dieting (which fits so well with this week's self-improvement theme that you should click over immediately to read it here), but people who give advice that make you not want to try the gym at all.  If you haven't been to the gym in six months or are just starting out, to quote Tyler Oakley, "you do you."  If the only thing that makes you want to get out of bed and exercise is jazzercise or you can only make it a half hour on the treadmill at first, then that's perfectly fine.  A huge part of self-improvement isn't about making everything look exactly how you want it to look at the end result, but taking your first step.  Few things in life that are worth having come easily, and so building a routine is critical to start out your success.

That being said, eventually, once the routines are down, you need to realize that if you want to hit your end goals you're going to have to take some advice and mix up and push yourself.  One of my greatest pet peeves (right at the top of the list) is people who complain about their lives but aren't willing to make sacrifices to change the problem.  You can complain about your weight until you're blue in the face, and I will feel sympathy (and will feel your pain) if you are trying everything your trainer or nutritionist is telling you and you are still plateauing.  However, if you are ignoring their advice and expecting to get better but all you do is the same walking routine every day, the sympathy starts to disappear.  You need to keep your body guessing with exercise and mixing up what you're doing each day if you want to hit that next weight bracket or start looking like Chris Pratt.

By the way, if you cannot afford a trainer or aren't sure where to start the "amping up" portion of your workout, the best place I can recommend is this workout channel called the Lean Machines.  They do videos ranging from nutrition advice to different workout routines to challenges, and they're personal trainers, so they have an actual background in the subject.  Most definitely check them out.

One of my other big pet peeves (though not necessarily about the gym, but related again toward attitudes toward the gym) is people who expect you to be at the same level they are.  I know someone who is constantly trying to get me to sign up for long-distance runs because I do at some point want to start doing them, and I politely say that I'm not ready, but they insist that if I sign up for a run that I will have something to work toward.  If this is how your mind functions (there's a size six dress in your closet that you are dying to get into), then that is awesome, and you should totally sign up for the race, but that's not how everyone works, and it isn't how I personally operate when I am working toward a goal.  I don't want to have something to be disappointed by if I make progress but not enough to be able to run ten miles in three months.  I like metrics such as working with a trainer and seeing the progress on my own rather than having to meet a specific goal in a specific amount of time.  It allows some time to stumble if I do (and don't be afraid to long as you get right back on the horse after some very short wallowing).

And finally, let's get into some actual pet peeves at the gym.  I get up at five am to go workout-why is it that the fitness classes are constantly taking up all of the floor space on the weight side of the gym?  I get that this is the gym's bread-and-butter, but I feel like there should be smaller classes or something (this goes doubly for the evening and the treadmill).  And guy who is spending all of his time staring at the mirror and not actually lifting anything, we all are aware what you are doing.  You are not in the Olympics, you do not have to psych yourself up for what you are about to do.  I'm sure it's super heavy, but this is not Rocky and you are not about to fight Apollo Creed.  Just lift the damn weights.

We'll leave it there, and we'll pick up the self-improvement baton again tomorrow, but in the meantime-what are your pet peeves about the gym, working out, and people's attitudes toward both?  What would you like to see me tackle in this series this week (I've planned out about three topics, but this was very spur of the moment so share in the comments if there's something you'd like to discuss and I might take you up on it)?  And happy Monday everyone!

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