Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back in the saddle

I didn't think it would ever happen to me. I thought I simply wouldn't allow it. And yet there I was, sitting by and watching as the money slipped through my fingers month after month.

I had become one of those people. I had a gym membership that I didn't use.

I've always exercised regularly, simply because I enjoy it and the rush it gives me (especially in the winter, when I can use all the endorphins I can get). While I'd work out on machines from time to time if I had to, group exercise classes have always felt the best to me. Being surrounded by other people and music makes it feel more like a party. I've taken all kinds of classes- step, kickboxing, cross-training, and on one embarrassing occasion, a dance aerobics class (which I actually loved, but since I resembled Shrek in a sports bra as I bumbled about a studio full of seemingly professional dancers, I never went back).

After I got pregnant, I kept it up for a short time, but fatigue soon took over and I limited myself to walking and swimming. I did that right up until Lion was born, and started walking again post-birth just as soon as I felt up to it. As the months went by, I thought about that gym membership payment being automatically deducted from my bank account, and it bothered me- but not enough to do anything about it. I'd snagged a pretty low monthly rate when I first joined this gym back in 2003, and I knew it was lower than anyone could get these days (lower even than the discounted rate offered through Mike's employer). I was afraid that if I cancelled and then wanted to join again, I'd be stuck paying a higher rate.

(That's always bugged me. Why don't they just have set, advertised membership fees that are the same for everyone? Why does it feel like you're dealing with a car salesman the second you walk up to the front desk?)

This weekend, I finally got up the spunk to go back. My muscles had started sending signals that they wanted to be used for something other than walking. It bothered me that even when I tightened my abdominals, I could push my fingers into them. It was gray and rainy and I needed a lift.

I went to my old Saturday morning step class, where the instructor did a double-take as I entered the room.

"Hi, I'm back!" I said, as though I'd just returned from a quick trip to the bathroom.

"I thought that was you!" she said. "Where have you been?"

And suddenly everything I've experienced in the past year flashed before my eyes, and I looked down at my Nikes and flexed my calf muscles a couple of times before answering simply, "Maternity leave."

I was afraid that my body, now unaccustomed to such rigorous exercise, would give out after the first ten or fifteen minutes, that I would have to slink away, red-faced and doubled over. But my feet remembered how to move, and my legs supported me (though shakily at times), and it felt good to breathe hard and work hard. I even stayed for the next class, a combination of yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.

I felt like myself. I felt great.

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Blogger Caro said...

I used to love spin class. But the gym was too far from us and gas prices went up. I have a treadmill at home that I love though.

I think it's great you made it back. Congratulations!

7:43 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

Good for you! It took me years after my second pregnancy to get back into regular exercise...and my body definitely showed the evidence of that.

10:45 PM  
Blogger His suzy said...

I went to the gym today. I wish it made me feel that good. lol

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I have a membership to Jazzercise that I haven't used since last June that I really need to cancel. I bought the Wii Fitness Coach, and though they made me schedule my next appointment, I've only done it once. I feel like a lazy cheeseburger!

You neglected to mention how you felt the day after your work out... All the same, I'm happy you got back to the gym! I need to use you as an example and get my own jiggly self back into a routine.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Bethany- again, I was prepared for the worst, but I felt fine! Just a little stiffness in my hamstrings, is all. Going to the yoga/pilates/tai chi class after probably helped prevent soreness.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Betsy said...

Shrek in a sports bra. That line made me laugh! And I know how that feels. I feel that way every time I try to do something that involves stepping to a rhythm.

And my word verification is "herse". Hmmm. I hope that is not a bad omen...

6:12 PM  

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