On Becoming a Gym Rat: Revisited

January is the month for resolutions, and for lots of people, getting more exercise tops the list. We year-round gym rats see the influx of new faces every January. Some will stick around, but in a matter of weeks, most will give up and quit coming. Read on if you want to be around next year to make fun of the resolvers.

I joined a gym about two and a half years ago when paying by the class for Zumba got expensive. To make sure I’d use my membership, I signed up for the most expensive option. My plan came with a weekly 30-minute session with a trainer — great for me, as I hadn’t set foot in a gym since high school.

Back then, between running and Zumba, I got plenty of aerobic exercise, but my heart wasn’t really into the weight lifting thing. Stalling became an art form during my sessions with the trainer. When I came in on my own, more often than not, I quit before reaching the end of my prescribed workout. Sometimes I only worked out once a week, and I missed a lot of weeks. But because I was paying out the nose for my membership, I kept going.

Television ads featuring amazing before and after pictures guarantee a gym bod in 90 days — or your money back — with just 15 minutes of exercise three times a week.  Between my workouts, Zumba, and running, I was getting more than 45 minutes of exercise every week — a lot more — as much as four and five hours a week.  So imagine my disappointment when 90 days passed and my before and after pictures still looked the same.

Ninety days came and went a few more times until I quit taking the damn pictures. My respect for muscle-bound men increased by leaps and bounds, but according to quarterly measurements, my own body hadn’t changed. I did, however, notice firmness in places that had previously been squishy or downright jiggly.

In the second year of my membership, my half-assed effort was visible in the mirror. I wondered what might happen were I really to apply myself. I gave it my best shot for  a while, but life got in the way, and I got discouraged. Between surgery, work, and other obligations, my workouts remained sporadic and inconsistent. But I was still paying so I went when I could, and squishy and jiggly continued retreating as lean and muscular moved in.

Last fall, I got serious about working out again. A man may have had something to do with it. Anyway, for more than six months now, I’ve rarely missed a training session, I workout twice a week, and when I can, squeeze in a third workout. I’ve still got a ways to go, but the extra work has paid off. A six-pack lurks beneath an ever-shrinking spare tire, my man boobs are morphing into pecs, and I’ve got guns!

Knowing something will come up and I’ll miss at least one day a week, my goal these days is to lift weights or run every single day. When I can — usually twice a week — I’ll workout and then go for a run.  Life still gets in the way. I’ll miss days at a time, and a nasty bug kept me from exercising for almost a month. 

I may not always give it one hundred percent, but I never quit. Determination, persistence, and an expensive gym membership have been the keys to my success. Seeing what I’ve been able to do has motivated me to work a little harder. Stay tuned. One of these days, I just might post a few pics.

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