My First Day at the Gym
Welcome to the first post of my series “Reclaiming my Body” where I talk about health and fitness topics for any age, but directly targeting middle-aged women (and beyond) who are struggling with body image issues and who want to reclaim their body (I’m talking to YOU, waistline) by getting fit and healthier (mind, body and soul).
I began exercising for serious at the age of 54 after being sedentary for 4 months due to surgery resulting from shattering my shoulder and upper arm in 5 places in a freak accident (I tripped over moving boxes in the dark shudder). During those 4 months, I gained 30 lbs. I literally laid on my back on the sofa surrounded by pillows (and the occasional sympathetic dog) the entire time, unable to move my right arm and trying desperately not to reverse the delicate surgical techniques holding it all together. After 9 weeks of physical therapy, I was finally given my arm back to do with as I please. Which was not much. It just sort of hung there, shapeless, and my hand was so swollen and distorted from not using it, I could barely move my fingers.
I had to get my strength back. I was ready to make some lifestyle changes, get fit and I needed to lose the extra weight.
HOW IT BEGAN
I joined a gym. I joined with no plan in place and no goals, I just knew I had to start exercising in whatever form that took. Like anyone probably would, I began by walking mindlessly on the treadmill while watching television instead of checking-in with my body every few minutes to see if I needed to adjust my effort. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t have a plan but I knew on that first day this wasn’t going to work for me because I was already bored.
I HIRED A TRAINER
We sat at his desk while he read the form with my basic info. I knew exactly when he got to my age and I knew with certainty that we were not going to get along.
Trainer: what is your goal? (I saw the faintest hint of a smirk )
Melissa: to get fit. I’m recovering from an arm break combined with stupid menopause and I want my body back.
Trainer: Okay, let’s take a stroll so I can point out the machines and their functions
Melissa: I don’t want machines, I want you to show me free weights exercises and cardio. I want you to show me exercises I can do now to increase shoulder mobility along with cardio and firming exercises for my lower half.
Trainer: Okay, let’s start here on the Stair Master. I generally put my older clients (eye roll) on it and it’s definitely a butt kicker. You’ll be puffing and huffing for the first few weeks and in about 4-6 weeks you will probably be able to do 15 minutes with no problem.
I wanted to slap him by this point, so I got on the stair machine and climbed for 30 minutes. No trainer is sight. No “how’s it going?”, no “let’s move on to this next machine when you’re done”. He had parked me in a corner of the gym on a machine that no one uses. I looked around and saw him talking to a 30-something lady carrying a rolled up yoga mat and he must have been hilarious because she kept laughing and touching his bicep.
When I finished the Stairs From Hell, I walked (I could have crawled but I was trying to look dignified) over to him while he was still talking to Yoga Mat, told him I wasn’t paying for the session and then fired him. I was serious about getting fit and I wasn’t going to F around with someone who put me in a corner and filed me in the “old lady” category.
No one puts Baby in a corner!