Dangerously Daydreaming

"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

A Healthy Relationship

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.

IMG_0683That’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.

ShoesWhen 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.

BikingThen 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?

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11 comments on “A Healthy Relationship

  1. storiesbywilliams
    February 6, 2013

    I used to love it, but its getting harder and harder to get back into that. Luckily, I too have come to love the outdoors, the backwoods trails and such. And I agree about the greasy dudes making the place hostile. Them and those chicks who love to wear cutaway jeans and tanks with the bra straps showing! Go a singles bar people!

    • Audrey
      February 6, 2013

      I know what you mean. I feel like I just have to accept it for the rain-free alternative it offers. At least until spring and summer come calling. Nothing quite like being outside, especially in this part of the world!

  2. ethelthedean
    February 6, 2013

    Yay! This post makes me feel all jazzed up. I love reading about your love affair with the outdoors and different kinds of exercise. Your words convey such a brilliant passion, all filled to the brim with vim and vigor, and it makes me want to take off at this very moment! So glad to hear you have a fab workout partner in Mr. J (especially one so knowledgeable!)

    It’s during the winter months that I really do miss the gym. As much as I love a run in the rain, it certainly gets a little tiresome after a while. Take today for instance – I have resigned myself to the fact that I am going to get absolutely soaked once I get home but I’m not happy about it! However, I really like the resistance work that I can do in-house – pullups/pushups/squats/etc. I mean, I don’t LIKE them, but I like that I can do them without have to go anywhere.

    I cannot wait for the day when you’ll be out on that bike, zipping by like the wind!

    • Audrey
      February 6, 2013

      Ah, you make me smile, my fellow outdoor-lover! I’m still amazed that you go running in this rain. It even keeps little Cobalt at bay! You are most definitely a super woman, willing or otherwise because you still have the willpower to get out there!

      I’m finding that the gym motivates me when I can’t quite put down the Kindle and get’r’done. 🙂 Oh, must tell you, J got a mountain bike!! So now we can ride together with the pup in tow. Plus he mentioned interest in doing the mountain bike leg of Ski-to-Sea!

      You and I must get in a trail run or hike this summer, methinks!

      • ethelthedean
        February 6, 2013

        I want this so much! The most!

        And that’s so fab about J’s bike. Thinking about you dudes biking with Cobalt is almost too cute for comprehension. And that’s awesome about the race!!

  3. whatimeant2say
    February 6, 2013

    Fortunately, in San Antonio, the weather never stays cold for long. I do prefer outdoor exercise to indoor. And, I also like the option of being able to exercise when I want – which can be hard to do if you belong to a gym. But I probably would join one if I didn’t have such a crazy schedule. The summers get so hot here, it’s hard to find a decent time of day to do something outside.

    • Audrey
      February 6, 2013

      You’ve definitely got the heat to contend with in your area! I can’t imagine going for a run during some of those scorching days.. Do you do the gym membership thing right now or try to get outdoors when the weather allows?
      We opted to join a 24 hr gym and I love it! Cameras are all over the place for security and little key fob lets me in the door. Plus I like that there’s a little multipurpose room so I can do my yoga in peace. 🙂

      • whatimeant2say
        February 6, 2013

        I actually do a Tae Bo video at home when the weather isn’t good. It’s been nice lately. The dogs enjoy their walks!

  4. Curly Carly
    February 6, 2013

    I’ve always had a rocky relationship with the gym. I make myself go because I need the structure of it, but it’s a struggle to get out the door every time. I like getting exercise in other ways, but I know I won’t push myself hard enough doing those things to make up for a gym workout.

    • Audrey
      February 6, 2013

      Oh yes, I hear you on structure. That’s why I needed it too. Going outside is way more fun but can be so hit and miss.
      My gym is right along my commute to and from work so I pack a duffle in the morning and have no choice but to make that stop on my way home at the end of the day. J is pretty regimented too so that might by why I’m staying on track… Workout buddies keep us accountable, I guess. 🙂

  5. Denise Hisey
    February 6, 2013

    I went 3x/wk for a year, but I always felt like a gerbil on the wheel. Though I definitely don’t get enough exercise now, I just can’t bring myself to go to a gym again. I’m a fair weather hiker, but will walk in the rain. Lately I’ve been considering aqua aerobics -something different. We’ll see!

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