Why I Don't Play Favorites at the Gym
I think as humans we all truly want to succeed and do a good job. Am I right?! I mean who wants to try something and absolutely suck at it when others make it seem effortless?
Many years ago when I went to the gym (yes, L.A. Fitness) I was so worried about looking like I had no clue. Well, guess what? I had no clue. So I signed up for a "tour" with one of their personal trainers. I felt a little more comfortable - at least I knew where things were and realized that I could change the settings which allowed me to use the same machine as the 6 foot 4 giant in the gym. LOL
I quickly learned that I needed a plan. I asked people what I should do, and I bought a book that explained what exercises to do to get results. (Always the student). 😉
One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that when I am going through a crisis, emergency or completely new situation like living in a foreign country where I don't speak the language, moving 2,000 miles away or going to the gym where I feel like a fish out of water is that I MAKE A LIST.
Sounds very simple but it keeps me grounded and focused so I don't completely freak out. I did great at the gym with my list of exercises UNTIL one of the machines on my list was being used by someone else. This would throw me into a tailspin and make me a nervous wreck. How long were they going to be sitting on the squat machine just chatting?!
So I would move onto the next item on my list. Easy, right? Nope! I would get to what I thought was the end of my workout and realize that I forgot to do 1/3 of the items on my list as I was on my way home. Argh. This meant that I buckled down and focused on the exercises I knew how to do, was comfortable with and could knock out with no issues.
Not a great place to be if you want to get results. You probably have heard if you are not growing you are dying.
Many years later I learned to have a better plan. And I have found what I love to do - CrossFit, yoga and H.I.I.T. (high intensity interval training). This helps me a lot but doesn't mean that it is not hard. Some days I go to the gym and do not want to do what is programmed or even worse, I read the workout the night before and talk myself out of doing it.
Have you heard of cherry picking at the gym? Early on in my fitness journey I heard the term. At first I was in denial. Cherry picking is reading the workout the night before and then deciding that you don't like it (because it is too hard) so you don't go the next day. When I was honest with myself I realized that I had done that a few times. When I thought about why I would do that I realized that it had more to do with doubting my abilities. Hmmm... I was working out to improve myself. Why would I doubt myself? If I didn't believe in myself I realized I was not going to get anywhere. Plus, the coaches always had a way to modify any moves I couldn't do yet. So I was just being silly, a bit lazy and worrying about what other people thought. That was just dumb because I wasn't afraid to take my tank top off and finish the workout in my sports bra because I was overheated and couldn't breathe. It was called survival! I let it all hang out, literally.
What did I do from that moment forward? I vowed not to read the workout the night before. That took away the option of cherry picking, of not believing in myself, of being lazy, nervous or scared. Truth was - I was nervous most days. I found myself having to trust the system. And it worked! I never came home thinking that I wish I had stayed home. Most times I surprised myself with what my body and mind were capable of. If I didn't get the move right away I was fine with that. I always liked having something to work towards in my fitness. It kept me from getting bored.
Why do I think this worked? Because I changed my mindset. I took the piece of the equation away so it was a non-issue. I also made sure I had my gym bag packed with everything I could possibly need. I didn't want to be able to make an excuse like, " I can't learn to climb that rope today - I don't have long socks." They were in my bag. In fact, I was known to bring an extra pair for the new member who was full of excuses. I would lend them my extra pair. I am sure they loved that.
My point is that you cannot go to the gym only on days that have your favorite moves that you are good at. You've got to embrace the suck to make progress. Here are some ideas if you are new to exercise or just starting out. Now go get it!
P.S. How do you think I got good at handstand push-ups? I practiced.