If I truly had gym confidence at 50 there probably would not be a question mark in the title of this post. As I look around at other people I know, women my age, I don’t think the question mark is uncommon…I am not alone in this.
When I first wrote about getting fit at 50, one of my most fabulously fit, lovely blonde friends from high school said she too was intimidated by the gym. Shoot…if she’s intimidated, how do I ever stand a chance of growing my confidence?!
Here are the steps I am taking to break through my gym shame and build my confidence:
- I signed up for five sessions with a trainer at my gym.
- I spoke with the gym club manager and told him exactly where I was, letting him know exactly what I needed and expected in a trainer.
- I prepared the trainer that I would need guidance in the main gym, not just in the little trainer’s workout area. He was able to incorporate this in.
- I maintained my schedule on my own once the sessions stopped.
- I refused to bring shame in the gym with me.
I have never allowed myself to spend money on a trainer until now. While its hard to spend the money for a trainer, it is also hard to spend the money on a gym membership and not get much out of it. My gym had a special on five sessions. I signed up and went two days a week for 2 and a half weeks.
I made it clear to the gym manager that if he picked the wrong trainer for me, I would swear off gyms forever, and would be sure to share my experience with as many people as possible. I am sure he was scared by my threat! Not….but I was proud of myself for being clear in what I needed.
I reiterated exactly what I needed and expected to the trainer, letting him know if he wasn’t willing to help me in the rest of the gym, there was no point.
In terms of the schedule, I didn’t want to fall off in anyway. Might as well maintain the exact schedule and stick with it. Take no time to think about it, just keep going.
In terms of not bringing shame into the gym with me, the gym is definitely one of my shame triggers. I have left the gym riddled with shame before, letting my negative energy about my condition get the best of me. I am now trying to be aware of this, making deals with myself to help lessen it’s hold. For example, the other day, I found myself not wanting to go in. I sat in the parking lot procrastinating, checking email and social media, just dinking around. Deal was, I was 100% going in, there was no going home, but I gave myself permission to go in when I was ready. Eventually I felt good about it and was in a better place to be able to go in.
There have been times in the past I have found myself wanting to leave early, maybe I wasn’t feeling it, maybe I was intimidated by something. If I did leave, I would feel horrible and overwhelmed by the shame of being so weak!
Now I break the rest of my time there into 15 minute increments. I have given myself permission to leave if I have to but I have to wait for the next 15 minute mark. If I still want to leave then, I can and I will not hold it against myself. I promise to be kind. It is more likely to be for a good reason, rather than an emotional, shame filled one.
So how did my first week with out the trainer go? First day on my own, blew off the resistance training, just cardio. Day two, did it again. What the heck?! Shame creeping in. Day three, I’m mad at myself now.
I decide to follow the trainer’s path, starting with the elliptical to warm up. Let me just say, I can walk 10 miles no problem, but I have always struggled with the elliptical…in my mind I am dying a dramatic death after just a few minutes, barely hanging on. He had me alternating frontwards two minutes, backwards two minutes, for a total of eight minutes. I focused on getting through two minutes at a time, thankful when the eight minutes were up.
So I was on the elliptical, waiting for some space to clear up over the the trainer’s workout area. As soon as I felt the time was right, I was going to jump in. Dang it, too many people…keep going on the elliptical. Oh shoot, now the perky blonde trainer is over there…jeez. Keeping those legs moving Trac…my time is coming, I know it!
In this case, my fear kept me on that elliptical for 25 minutes! I guess that could be considered a side benefit. But I’m ready now, I take my shot and go in to use the equipment I have now become accustomed to.
Conditions were not perfect. There were other people around me. I made it a point to meet their eye and smile. This may sound ridiculous to some of you, but I have had many times in the gym where I can’t bring myself to look others in the eye, or look up at all for that matter. This was a critical piece for me. Releasing more shame.
Before I knew it, I had made my way through the whole thing, I even went back to the treadmill for more cardio. I was so proud of myself! I am now on my schedule and it feels manageable. I am not dreading the feeling of it all anymore.
For now, I will leave the question mark in the title…the question is still there, but its getting better and my confidence is growing.