"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
My relationship with the gym has always been rocky, at best. We first met when I was in high school and a couple of my guy friends started teaching me how to lift weights. I became comfortable enough to go to the gym on my own until some meatheads hit on me, fracturing my already fragile self-assurance. The gym and I were through.
That’s when my love affair with the outdoors began. I started hiking the hills and mountains of Dutch Harbor each day with my dog in tow. We would cover miles in what seemed the blink of an eye. My heart thrilled despite the elements and not the blusteriest of days, nor the frigidest of blizzards could keep me from exploring the Aleutian trails. Not once did I miss the gym.
When I moved from Alaska and from my dog, all hiking suddenly ceased. I was scolded for wanting to be in the forest alone. Creepers stalked those forests, waiting for little girls to go running by. For years I only let myself wander the busier inter-urban trails of Bellingham, places where plenty of people would be near to help me if ‘er the need arose. But slowly my courage came to me and I started running trails. I was drawn to the stillness of the wood, the technical terrain that kept my mind constantly working, and the joy of the trail ahead. In my mind’s eye, I had momentarily transformed into a doe – fleet of foot and graceful. And I had never a thought for the silly gym.
Then one day I resolved that I would learn to ride a road bike. That choice lead me into a new world. On the saddle of my road bike, I learned to revel in the details of life. My world slowed down. There was no concern for rising gas prices, no insurance money to pay out, no stress of having to drive during rush hour. Life became simple and exhilarating all at once. And the gym was a distant memory.
Through all of those years, through the hiking, the running, and the cycling I found myself becoming an athlete of sorts. The slim physique, the strength, and the energy were addictive. At least until winter’s grip fell over my outdoor playground each year. Tromping through knee deep slushy trail was fun for the sake of a mud run, but it couldn’t draw me out day after day. Riding in 20 mph headwinds along an icy road on my bike was pure drudgery so the bike was racked to await sunnier days. And I lost that energy level each winter, gaining in it’s place some extra insulation. Such has become the cycle each year. Though I had made a few attempts to re-engage with the gym, it couldn’t hold my heart or interest for long.
Until J. J was the consummate athlete. He played little league sports, in high school he was captain of the baseball and football teams, he learned his way around a weight room before I could even spell “weight room”. So when he suggested in December that we end the cycle of growing matching winter girths, I reluctantly agreed.
But I’m pleased to have renewed my acquaintance with the gym. We are slowly becoming friends. The gym has helped me rediscover my love of yoga and Pilates right now. I’m using the spin bike to keep up my cycling abilities until the weather warms up. I’m running up the tread climber so that once the snow clears from the mountains I’ll be in top shape to hike them. And for a little while, I was weight training with J to learn how all the equipment worked. Right now most of the workouts I do at the gym are ones I could do in my livingroom, but going to the gym keeps me accountable. I probably wouldn’t roll out my yoga mat at home because the dishes are dirty and the laundry needs folding. But once I’m at the gym there is no choice.
The physique, the strength, and the energy are ever so slowly returning but already I’m feeling invigorated. Already I’m feeling excited to take the puppy out for a quick run in the evenings. Already I’m jubilant that spring is approaching and I can split my time between my old love, the outdoors, and my new friend, the gym.
How do you feel about working out at the gym?