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If you know me (and if you are reading this blog then chances are pretty high that you do), you know that I don’t do sports. Ever since my elementary school years, I learned to hate sports with a passion. Basically that is due to the fact that I suck at sports. Seriously. I am just not good at any of them. Never were. I did well academically in school. If I can use my brain to solve a problem, I usually succeed. If I have to use my biceps or my legs … not so much. In the beginning it was not for lack of trying. When I grew up, a childhood still included playing outside, climbing trees, roller-skating, kicking a football against the garage door … all my friends did it … I did it … they were better than me. Always. I combined the strength of a field mouse with the speed of a garden snail and the stamina of a dead frog. It does get frustrating after a while. It does get even more frustrating when you get grades for it at school. And I wasn’t even fat or anything. Quite the contrary, I was always very thin, which made my complete lack of fitness even more embarrassing. So I comforted myself with the thought that you can’t be good at everything and athletic endeavours just weren’t for me and that was it. My sports teacher predicted I would be sitting in a wheel chair by the age of 25.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to do things. I am always curious to try things out and so again and again I dabbled into past-times that other people might categorize as sports: dancing, martial arts, archery, free climbing. And now that I think of it, the very early beginnings of this blog were as a running blog, when I had decided that everybody could run, even me (it lasted for a few months only, but hey … I didn’t completely suck). That, in combination with living car-free, might have saved me from my teacher’s prediciton and I am in better shape than I could be. Still, during winter months, the little bit of exercise that the occasional golf game and the bike rides to work give me, dwindles away and I spent my waking hours either sitting in my desk chair at work or sitting in my desk chair at home. And that drives even a complete sport sceptic like myself slightly crazy.
So, what does a middle-aged 9to5 jobber in the 21st century do when a sudden urge for excercise overcomes her? Yeah, right, I signed up for a gym membership. If you are rolling on the floor laughing right now, that’s probably because you have known me for some time and you know that me and a gym go together like a horse and an aquarium. I always felt nothing but pity for the poor people who ran or cycled in place for hours like lab rats. And I surely didn’t see myself as the weight lifting type either. But the thought of having somewhere to go after work, where I could get some excercise whenever I felt like it (as if I ever „feel“ like excercising …), no matter the weather, did have have a certain appeal.
I started my journey to more fitness where I start pretty much everything: by researching on the internet. It came as a bit of a shock. It’s a fitness jungle out there: bodybuilding, functional training, cross fitness, personal training, calithenics … millions of sites with pictures of perfect bodies and promises that you could get slim, strong and healthy if you only followed diet x and training plan y. I had no idea that fitness was such a huge business. (Again … I was born in the early 70s and grew up at a time that fitness was called „Trimm dich“ in Germany and happened in the parks and woods, trainers were the cheapest shoes you could buy and any t-shirt that had become too worn for normal use was considered a suitable training outfit).
I also noticed that I am not in the most common target group for fitness programs: I don’t need to lose weight. I am not after a bikini figure either (actually, the number of times I have been to a beach in the last ten years or so is very limited and even then I was never arrested for being too ugly to walk there). I don’t need a sixpack (even though I do admit it would be cool to have one) or a firmer „booty“ (as with the sixpack, I’d happily take it, of course … I have booty aplenty, firmness not so much). What I want is a longer tee-shot (yes, golf again … did you really think you would get away with a full blog entry without golf?) and to overcome my personal feeling of inaptness at all things sport.
Also, if you believe the articles on female fitness, the most common concern that women seem to have is that they could get too muscular. Not a fear of mine. I know myself and my body. I’m a hard gainer. That’s true for bodyfat (thankfully), but also for muscle. It is very difficult to throw my body out of its equilibrium. No matter how much weight I lifted, my body would never get „too muscular“. And aesthetically I would always prefer a strong, athletic body over a skinny one. If this wombat becomes more of a wolverine by working out, that’s fine with me. I don’t need to be a weasel. Actually, I don’t even mind staying a wombat. As long as this wombat can do push-ups and pull-ups and hit the golf ball over 200 yards, that’s fine with me.
Going to the gym for the first time was weird. Actually, it was so weird that I decided right away to never do it again. After the first shock had passed, though, I reconsidered and tried another gym and that proved to be a bit more wombat friendly. It is also pretty cheap, with only 15 € a month. So I took the plunge and signed up for a one year membership.
At the moment I am using mostly weight machines to build up my back and core muscles. It’s what Johnny, the trainer at the gym, recommended and put on my training plan. Of course I would rather do cool, full body excercises like squats or pull-ups, but after a few rather pathetic attempts I had to admit to myself, that those are probably better kept as something to look forward to in the future. So I decided to just follow that training plan for now and see where it leads me. It seems to be doing something, because I could add some weight on all of the machines already.
I am also supposed to do a little bit of cardio after every workout and one pure cardio workout per week, but I must admit, that I normally can’t be bothered and the fact that I walk to the gym and back (which involves a steep hill with stairs) while everyone else just flops into his or her car has to be good enough. Sometimes I manage to time the weight training so that I can do a Zumba course directly afterwards. That is much more fun than just cycling in place. I also love the Yogilatix course (as the name suggests, it’s a mix of Yoga and Pilates excercises).
I am surprised how much I enjoy it, to be honest. I go to the gym three times a week at the moment, and I would go even more often if my body felt like it could handle it. But I don’t want to overdo it and have decided to allow myself to ease into it and give myself enough rest days in between.
As I said, I am not in this to lose weight. And yet I have started to change my diet. I didn’t even plan for this. I just feel a greater need for real, home cooked food now. And I eat so much more meat, it is untrue. Must be all that protein that my body uses to build those new muscles of mine.