It takes 21 days to form a habit and since the end of summer season in June I’ve been struggling to pick a date to create that habit. Excuses are convenient when you’re trying to accomplish a major milestone in your life. It’s easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym because you’re too tired, it’s been a long day, and there’s always tomorrow. If it makes sense, today was tomorrow. I had to give myself a pep talk, get dressed, and head out the door before I could talk myself out of going.
Upon parking and entering, I was instantly talking myself out of this ridiculous idea. However it would have been ridiculous to be turn around and drive back home. Given that the San Francisco marathon is at the end of this month and only a few short days away; I needed to hit the gym and practice on my running.
Upon moving to Orange County, I left 24 Hour Fitness and joined Fitness 19 (a small friendly gym in Mission Viejo by the lake). Fitness 19 is frequented by locals, most are regulars and it’s always clean and you can quickly find the machines you’re looking for without the traffic of a bigger gym.
Even though I am a local; I’m not a regular and I suppose that’s why today’s experience left me feeling awkward. I went towards the late evening to avoid crowds and grabbed the first available treadmill next to 3 older guys. Upon first glance, the treadmill felt like a science experiment I couldn’t quite grasp. What were all the buttons supposed to do? Was I actually expected to run on something that essentially ran for me once I turned it on? The “Quick Start” button provided the simplest solution and I began my 4 mile journey that left me feeling like a hamster. Time stood still and I felt confined.
During the course of my run, the guy next to me started sweating profusely and smelling like whatever he ate for dinner. I’m guessing it consisted of onions and garlic. There wasn’t a fan anywhere near us so I was left to endure that smell until his time was up. The other guy kept turning his head to stare at me and grab my attention about whatever was on TV. Meanwhile behind me, a row of perfectly skinny housewives with their coiffed hair, manicured nails, and flawless skin thanks to the face paint known as makeup greeted me with sly smiles. I clearly didn’t belong and felt out of place with the extra 10 pounds I was carrying so I made my way to the weights area to stretch.
Now the weights area is a whole another dimension. It consists mostly of guys and then there’s your rare girl who’s a wannabe tomboy just trying to fit in. I wasn’t in any of those categories and it was hard to find an area free of testosterone and confused estrogen. My stretching session was constantly interrupted by loud grunts, tossing of weights, and manly high fives. Seriously? Who does that? Posturing is all about ego. For the hour I spent, I was definitely out of my element.
Gyms are great for those who can make it work. I’m clearly not one of them. I belong in nature; in the outdoors where I can feel the sun on my skin, the cool breeze hit my face, run through my hair, and give me the extra energy I need to run another mile. That’s my motivation. Running endlessly on a belt, enduring sweat smells, the likes of OC’s finest housewives, and big muscular guys isn’t my scene. However because I’m a tech nerd, I’ll probably visit 9 more times to get my Foursquare “Gym Rat” badge and build enough influence points to join the society on Whrrl. Call me dork but hey, I still need a place to stretch after I finish running around the lake and getting back to where I belong but at least I’ve started day one of the 21 days. Here’s to new habit and a new me.
Picture courtesy of City of Overland Park.