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During my lifetime I have had four gym memberships. Each and every one of these has been entered into with the purest of intentions: to exercise, swim, take classes, get fit. In fact, fitness has long been a goal of mine, ever since a shameful bus-running incident at the age of 20 when I realised I no longer could pretend I played team sports any more (school being quite some time previously) and that I literally could not sprint 20 metres without feeling like I was dying.
So off to Holmes Place in Nottingham I went, all excited at the prospect of swimming pools, weights, cross trainers. I entered into the whole gym thing with total enthusiasm, bought new kit and pencilled in diary time to work out. It lasted three weeks. The membership lasted twelve months.
My second gym experience was much the same but I had a young child tagging along with me. What a great way to get rid of the baby weight, thought I. Not if you don’t go, dear self. Again that membership lasted 12 months; I went once a month out of pure guilt and hated every second.
The third time I joined the gym was the family friendly David Lloyd, down here in Milton Keynes. I didn’t know anyone in the area so thought it would be a great place to meet people. Again, this only works if you actually GO TO THE FREAKING GYM. This membership was super special, because not only was I wasting a single person’s membership but I’d signed the whole family up in a fit of optimism. YAY. I met no-one.
I’ve worked out that, in my time of hopefulness and in the pursuit of a flat stomach and that elusive state of fitness, I’ve spent approximately £3660 on unused gym memberships. This is an absolutely terrifying amount of money to have thrown away and I’m literally mortified when I think about it. So I shan’t.
Anyway, 4th time a charm or whatever that saying is. I re-joined David Lloyd back in September and something magical happened. I’m not entirely sure if it was being single, needing a place to recharge my batteries or just a firm desire to change myself for the good but I am a different woman. For the last 8 months, apart from when myself or the kids are ill, I’ve religiously headed to the gym at least two or three times a week. And you know what? I love it! There’s something so invigorating about that hour I have alone, just me and the fitness machines: I do my warm-up on the cross trainer (15 minutes at level 10), sprint at 10km/h for 5 minutes on the treadmill and then set to work. I use the pully-downy weight machine (I’m sure these are their official names), the pully-forward weight machine, the leg-killing weight machine (single presses with each leg… yowza!) and on to exercises with the free weights, aka where the muscle men hang out looking like testosterone might explode out of their heads at any second.
It hasn’t been about losing weight for me (though that has been a side effect), it’s more about health and how I feel about my body. As mothers we spend over 9 months growing our children and then if we choose to breastfeed then there’s an extended period being at their beck and call when they need feeding. Thats a very long time for our bodies to exist for the purpose of other people; as Hux became weaned and self-sufficient it was important for me to re-claim control of my body, to recognize that it had grown and nurtured these two people but that also it was time to take it back. For me the gym was an important part of this, a way to empower myself to become the woman I wanted to be.
I’ve grown stronger each and every week and it’s been an amazing thing to experience. I’m a long way off a six-pack but can I feel my core now, my posture is much improved and my leg muscles are rock-hard. My flabby bits are deteriorating (there’s still work to be done!) but there’s definition in my arms and I love that I no longer get breathless, well, much at all really.
It hasn’t been easy, sometimes keeping up the momentum when I’ve been flat-out with work or exhausted from an early morning with the kids has been downright torturous. But getting through a gym session at these times is all the more rewarding and leaves me with a buzz lasting all day.
And, like I said, MUSCLE MEN!
Just kidding, it’s actually terrifying how bulked up some of those guys are. If I wanted a man who looked like he could pick me up with his little finger I’d date Shrek (at least then the kids would be entertained).
So if you’re considering joining a gym post-kids I say: DO IT. Er, if you go that is. It’s seriously changed my life, being fit and healthy has become a wonderful part of my daily routine and if I go 48 hours without a workout I’m left twitchy and with a serious need to move my body. And if you get stuck for footwear I spend most of my post-gym Pinterest hours browsing interesting trainers. You’re welcome.
About all that cash I spent on unused memberships? It was kind of worth it to get me where I am today. I’ve legitimately gone from a fitness-hating lazybones to a full-on gym fan, and that feels pretty great.