January 02, 2012

All that glorious warmth

I’ve always preferred getting my exercise by doing something useful, like chopping wood or shoveling snow — or something fun, like hiking or snowshoeing. I’ve never really understood the appeal of working out at a gym. During the first fifty years of my life, I went to the local gym exactly once, even though we’ve had a family membership for years.

But then my kids became obsessed with running on the treadmill at the gym, mostly to keep in shape for playing Ultimate, and my husband increased his visits to the gym because the kids were there. That made me think maybe I should start going to the gym. If the rest of my family were going to spend their evenings running like hamsters in a wheel – well, heck, I might as well do the same.

In addition, we had a miserable December this year, with almost no snow at all. The outside world was dark, cold, and muddy. Most winters, my feet are cold from November until March, but at least a frozen ground keeps my feet from getting wet. This year, we had puddles and cold rain. Exercising indoors seemed suddenly appealing. I began to go to the gym to run with my kids and husband.

Then I helped a friend’s son, Dry Humor, with his essays for grad school applications, all about his experiences as a personal trainer. When we were done with the essays, he said to me, “Let me return the favor, and teach you how to use some of the equipment at the gym.”

Suddenly I had a personal trainer.

I’d always been a bit afraid of the weight room, with all its intimidating equipment, but Dry Humor walked confidently up to each piece. By the end of the hour, I had learned how to exercise muscles I hadn’t thought about since ninth grade biology class. “You might be sore tomorrow,” he said grinning.

And so now, I’ve become someone who goes to the gym. I spend about 45 minutes using different body parts to lift weights, and then I join the rest of the family in the big treadmill room and I run a couple of miles. If I have time, I go to the hot tub or sauna after and soak in the heat.

I think I’ve finally figured out why people – well, at least people in this climate – go to the gym.

It’s not the thought of getting in shape. I didn’t feel particularly out of shape when I began. It’s not the idea of losing weight. I think my weight is fine. It’s not the social element. It turns out that people at the gym don’t talk that much, and mostly they all listen to iPods, running and stretching in their own little worlds. It’s not anything about endorphins or adrenaline or any sense of accomplishment. I never feel anything in particularly rushing through my veins at the end of the workout.

No, the great thing about the gym is that when I’m working out, I’m warm. The exercise drives every bit of chill out of my body. Even my hands and feet are warm. Yes, even my feet. At the gym, I’m warm, warm, warm. I can strip off my clothes, down to bare feet even, and go to the hot tub or sauna. I have no idea why anyone would go to the gym in the summer —that seems just crazy to me — but now when my husband or one of the kids invites me to go along to the gym, I find myself thinking, “Oh, I could be WARM for a whole hour.”

It just might get me through the winter.

12 comments:

henniemavis said...

Gosh, you are just playing right to me lately, aren't you? I just joined a gym on Dec. 19! And I too love the warm! And the fun classes. And the "little bit sore" the next day. But you know what I love best?

The sprawling carpeted & tiled locker room with NO wussy, eco-conscious water-saver showerheads (oh, that water beating on my neck, AH!), the big fluffy white towels & the GIGANTIC mirror for hair drying & make-up! Shhh, don't tell my hubby that all that is like having my own apartment, oh the dream of it... HA! Enjoy that heat, girlie :-)

jo(e) said...

Henniemavis: Ha! How funny that our lives are running parallel. Sooner or later, we'll have to play that piano duet.

o said...

Warmth was my motivation this morning to get on my cross-trainer! There was no power here til about an hour ago, and the snow was starting. At first, I was wearing my usual house attire: skirt, two cardigans, a shawl, and a vest. By the end, just the vest and shorts!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I was saying yeah, uh-huh, yeah uh-huh to the parts about doing something useful or having fun, but I have to agree that trying to walk over glazed icy sidewalks is not fun and could be dangerous.

But unlike you and hennie, I have not joined gym. Great trepidation here.

jo(e) said...

Having someone show me how to use the equipment made a big difference. I used to just glance at all that odd stuff in the weight room and glaze over ....

landismom said...

The days that I don't ride my exercise bike at all are the days I never seem to warm up. And that's just in my cold apartment. Maybe I need to join a gym, so I can enjoy it in a heated room!

Chip said...

oh no you've gone over to the dark side!!

warmth is good, even better after a 30 mile bike ride in subfreezing temperatures, just love the hot shower then curling up under the down comforter with a hot cup of tea...

jo(e) said...

Chip: Well, now that one of my favorite nerd friends has turned into a jock, I've succumbed to peer pressure.

Melissa Sarno said...

This cracked me up. I am always cold. I will have to remember this when I'm feeling tortured at the gym: at least I'm warm!

Chip said...

hey who are you accusing of being a jock??

Lilian said...

yeah, you're soooo funny!! I'm still not using the gym regularly, but I LOVE the weight machines, even with nobody ever having showed me how to use them. What I love most of all, though, is yoga classes and on the the 22nd I had my first "body sculpt" class and loved it too, so I hope to go to those regularly. I know I should go more to the weight room, though, I know I'm most probably going to have osteoporosis (my mom & other family members have it), so I need to work out to prevent it and weight training is really important.

Oh, I'm typing this comment on my warm boots, coat and hat, I didn't take those off when coming inside an hour ago from the grocery store. So I'm really warm right now. ;)

BrightenedBoy said...

If even you aren't getting snow then there's no hope for any of us.

I love going to the gym. At school we had access to several fantastic facilities, but now that I've graduated I don't have a membership anywhere. Once the weather gets warmer here I'll just start running outside again--it's a better workout for you anyway.