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4.29.2014

I'm Enthusiastic About: The Gym…A.k.a The Story I Never Thought I'd Write…Ever.


The "Let's Be Adults" journey continues with 18 days off of cigarettes and over 3 weeks of visiting the gym under my belt. To add a dash of rebellion to my newfound, responsible ways, I've added a splash of peachy-pink to my hair so as not to take myself too seriously…though this is starting to fade pretty quickly. Womp.

Anyway, I want to start by getting something straight. I have never been a gym person. I have always been a workout-DVD-hide-in-the-comfort-of-my-own-home-go-to-an-occasional-dance-class-to-stave-off-boredom-or-try-something-from-Groupon kind of person. True, I went on a Bikram yoga bender for a few months back in 2012, but realized that though I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment at the end of those sessions, there was something about being flanked on all sides by hot (and I mean temperature here), sweaty men who were all taller than me that would send me into these anxiety tailspins. Something akin to "omg, I can't breathe. OMG. Am I going to die right now? I feel like I might black out. It feels way hotter than it's suppose to be!!!"

It was through my Bikram practice that I realized my dislike of small, dark, humid, burning hot spaces sprinkled with the occasional whimper of a newcomer who was in over their heads. Still, I think there are some real benefits to it and maybe I'll go back some day…but today is not that day.

So, yes, I quit smoking (cough-cough-again) and knew that I would need to do something in order to guilt myself into not taking a short walk down the street to pick up an easily accessible pack of delicious, delicious cigarettes. (Hey, I'm not afraid to admit that I still miss smoking.)

And this is why I decided to join the gym. It was because I needed to create a heavy feeling of guilt. So heavy, in fact, that even the thought of inhaling the wispy remnant streams from a passing smoker could throw me into a hole of lung-curdling despair…that and running on treadmills makes you acutely aware of how well your lungs are functioning.

Add to the need for anti-smoking guilt, the fact that I need to treat my body better and the fact that Charles and I are planning on trying to smash our genes together next year. (A.k.a having a baby, but gene-smashing sounds more fun.) All signs point to "you need to stop smoking, you idiot."

I also locked myself into a 13 month membership at this new gym...and I'm not about to waste my money. Financial guilt is another subject all together.

It's been over 3 weeks now since I joined and I've gone at least three times a week, including weekly trainer sessions so I can actually learn how to properly use all the torture-device-like machines sprawled out everywhere…and I've gotta tell ya, I'm finding it to be increasingly satisfying.

Sure, after the first training sessions, I couldn't walk properly for several days and I thought I had messed up my hips. (Turns out I should have waited 72 hours between lower body workouts - it was my own fault for being a sudden gym zealot.) However, now that I've gotten a handle on things and have neurotically recorded every single workout I've done with my trainer, I'm proud to say I am no longer a confused wallflower.

I go in with a plan and fiercely stick to it. With the gym being a 5 minute drive from my apartment, I can pop over for a quick jog to get out of the apartment and swim in a pool of my own endorphins or do a quick circuit of exercises if I'm feeling like "hey, maybe I ate thirty too many soup dumplings yesterday." It's amazing what convenience and being really neurotic can do for ya.

I've been able to run longer and harder on the treadmill each day and the shape of my body is changing. I don't know if I've gained or lost any weight because I don't own a scale and refuse to weigh myself, but I'm guessing I've gained weight due to muscle. At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but I'm starting to enjoy sleeping better, having more energy, and more focus overall.

Couple that with daily yoga (yes, 7 days a week - it helps me stay calm…otherwise I might rage out on people during high-stress moments at work or at poor Charles because the laundry rack keeps falling apart when I'm putting it away) and I'm starting to think I might be morphing into a healthy person. It feels weird…but it's just another step in the right direction…as much as I like the version of my life where I'm a wisp of a women with shocking white hair and wrinkles, sipping her 12th latte and laughing gregariously at a conversation while smoking my cigarette at a cafe.

…where this imaginary cafe is, I have no idea. Most places have banned smoking…I hear even the outdoor cafes in Paris…so, whatever, I guess I don't need to live out that dream. In fact, if I kept smoking, there's a good chance I wouldn't live long enough to become that wisp of a woman anyway.

As always, I digress...

The biggest revelation I've had during this whole process is that the reasoning behind me disliking gyms had less to do with the workout aspect and everything to do with the environment. I wasn't looking for a social hangout full of people admiring themselves and each other in mirrors while wiping their brows with their eucalyptus-infused complimentary towels. I was looking for a place that was spacious, with enough quality machines so you won't ever have to wait around, a friendly environment (Josh, one of the guys at the gym, knew my name by my second visit and gave me a cheerful hello and words of support and encouragement upon my arrival), great trainers (my trainer, Jonathan, is the perfect balance of kindness, knowledge, support, information, and enthusiasm with a healthy dose of tough love), free classes, and members who are there to focus and workout. There hasn't been a moment since I've joined where I felt awkward, out-of-place or anxious.

Affordable membership prices also help.

If you're in LA and curious, I joined Metro Fitness in Atwater Village. It's the first gym I feel truly comfortable in, so I guess I'm stickin' to it. (I paid for 13 months anyway, so I have no choice…but, really, I'd stay even if I was paying month to month.)

Will I never have another cigarette as long as I live? Unlikely (parties happen and as I'm not a drinker, the only way for me to be at all social is to procure one cigarette and get to know some people outside over a puff or two and discuss interesting things)…but will I become a regular smoker again? Not if I keep this up.

Sidenote: Did you check out those sneakers? Are those "gym-goer" sneakers or what? Mind you, I bought them because the all-black ones were out of stock and these neon-sherbert babies were on sale. Charles likes them. I feel like I could flag down a plane with my feet, but they do their job. The rest of my gym attire is black and gives off a decidedly no-funny-business-ninja vibe…which is great…because I don't really want to talk to anyone while I'm working out.

Who would have ever thought I would be a gym person? Not I. Now I gotta know, are you one?

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