Up until a few years ago I thought going to the gym was a wank. Only those who were inclined to work out and who already looked good would go. I imagined them flaunting in front of mirrors and sneakily admiring themselves. Then that all changed.
It began like this. Yet another headache would hang around all day. My blood test results were bad. I had high cholesterol and was bordering on pre-diabetic; a liver function test showed raised enzymes (drinking too much alcohol, the doctor said).
I’d just turned 50: I was in a second marriage, in a stepfamily, had a stressful job and ageing parents. The scales in the doctor’s office also gave me unwelcome news. I was 20kg overweight. The doctor did not spare me. She described the path I was on.
I quit drinking, got moving and reduced my weight. A few years passed and I made more lifestyle changes and regained my health. But I also noticed I had lost confidence in my ability to move and balance.
A colleague suggested I go to a lunchtime class to stretch and develop core strength, and from there I realised there was another way. From the class I became stronger, began to move more, and recovered my ability to balance on one leg and hold myself upright without falling over.
The instructor encouraged me to graduate to the gym. I gingerly explored local gyms and discovered one close by. I became one of the baggy brigade. I wore very loose clothing, reluctantly went to some aerobic classes, and under the guidance of a personal trainer started to do resistance and weight training. It was hard going and the muscles in my body ached, a lot. I wanted to give it up.
The personal trainer encouraged me to persevere, hang in, do a little more, and make it a habit. Since then I have been going to the gym regularly. It is part of my life and me. I have a routine of cardio, mobility and strength training, spread out over a week.
I have made friends with others in my age group who, like me, make going to the gym an important part of their lives and enjoy exchanging stories of what we can do because we are fit, strong and healthy. We reckon it’s worth it.
I know my body and its capabilities. I no longer wear baggy clothes and instead enjoy the freedom of sports clothes that hug my now toned body, albeit an older one.
And yes, I do have an indulgent peek at myself in the mirror. I secretly admire my tenacity to have achieved a body that works and supports me. I have a gym habit. And I love it.
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