I’ve changed schools several times when I was younger, and moved around quite a lot. It was always scary and exciting at the same time. The good side of starting over is exactly that: you always got a new chance. The first day of school was always the most difficult – or maybe the first week. You walk around with your weird backpack in your weird clothes and try to pick a table to sit at during lunch. Which people do you feel drawn to? Will it be weird if I just sit next to them? Am I sitting with the weirdos? Am I the weirdo?
At 32, I’ve figured out we’re all weirdos – just on different levels. I’ve been a member of a gym ever since I left High School. The gym is my second home away from home (a third base kind of thing). It’s always been important to me not just to work out, but to feel comfortable enough to stay. I’d like to choose if I want to be working out on my own, headphones in ears, leave the world somewhere else, or if I want the power of the group to push me while I curse away over push-up number 7418723… or 15.
Each gym has its own feel, it’s own smell, and you sense immediately if you feel comfortable there or not. In Germany, I had one gym where I found a group (or the group found me) and we would take classes together regularly, we even matched our outfits at one point. I took two classes a day and must have burnt around 7,000 calories a week. But the thing is: I never thought about it… it just happened, and I had fun, I had the group to support me and to be part of. Sometimes only some of them would show up, other times, only one, but friendships developed out of these groups.
When I lived in Spain, at first, I traveled 45 minutes by metro each day to go to a gym that offered Body Pump classes (I was highly addicted at the time). The second gym was much closer, but never offered that class. I eventually was cured from the addiction and ventured into different classes, but never found the group I had back in Germany. Or maybe I wasn’t looking for one either.
The gym I signed up for in LA was always foreign to me. The first time I went there, I wanted to cry – I felt like the little school girl with her sack-lunch, looking for a lunch table to sit at. I took the easy way out (or in) and opted for the treadmill. I’m training for a half marathon and have my times and distances all figured out… for now. Little did I know the treadmill only runs in miles, not in km.. silly European, me. For all the years that I’ve been living here, I’m still not used to the measuring system. Feet, yards, miles, ounces, cups, hints… I have no idea how much, how far, or how loud that is.
“Excuse me, could you help me with the treadmill? There must be a way to adjust them to the metric system”, I asked one of the trainers shyly. “What metric system? I always just run.” Hmmm… Never mind. Ok, so I just run.
The interaction with the other patrons is still a bit rusty, but at least today, I entered this gym for the second time. And I took it a step further – I attended a class! It’s called “Core Essentials” and we did everything from crunches to hovers to mountain climbers, planks and left-knees-to-right-elbows, hold… I wanted to die. But I finished the class, and ran a quick 5k.. sorry… 3.2 miles afterwards.
It still feels foreign, but not as much. At least I did it and it shows me how far I’ve come – how many gyms I’ve gone through, how many trainers I’ve had, how many crunches I’ve done.
I’m tired, pensive… With my gym bag tossed over my right shoulder, hair still damp from the shower, I walk down 3rd street promenade. The tourists in the restaurants order another glass of wine, another pizza. I’m hungry. I’m somewhat lonely, but not completely. Maybe I’m really just drained.
I get home and find a key in my mailbox – an indication that someone sent me a package. Mom.
She sent Easter chocolates. And one of her typical heart-felt, honest, encouraging letters. As the tears run down my face, gym bag still over my shoulder, my abs hurt – too many crunches. –Wheep– –ouch– –cry– –ouch– wheep– –ouch. I give up. So I just eat her chocolates. Chocolate from mom makes everything better! I’ll do an extra 100 crunches any day for that :) .
(#My500Words Day 15)