Feel the fear and do it anyway. Tips from a gym warrior
I was reminded of this book title when I first talked to Deb. I gave her the nickname ‘gym warrior’, after she’d told me her story. This post is written for any woman who worries about stepping into the gym, worries that she might be different to others there, worries about her weight, her age, her gear, her ability to do the exercises or even work the equipment. Just think to yourself, if Deb can do it, so can I!
Here is Deb’s story.
Up until a couple of week’s ago I’d never been in the Gym at my local leisure centre. I’d go there every week to swim. I didn’t mind showing my body in a swimming suit and the staff all know me. But, I was bored with swimming length after length and felt it was time for something new. However, the thought of stepping into that gym made me feel sick with apprehension.
To put this into context, two years ago I was bed-ridden. Four major back operations had left me rigid with pain and depression. I’d been reduced to this state, not by the cerebral palsy I’ve lived with all my life, but a fall at work on a wet floor that caused me to break my back.
Once I had the pain under control and began to recover, I realised I needed to get my life back. My marriage of 23 years was over and the children grown up, so it was up to me. Once I was well enough, I started swimming and using a gym for people with disabilities. But recently I’ve felt I ought to get my money’s worth and use the gym that’s included in my membership fee at the leisure centre.
I walk with elbow crutches, so walking into the gym that first time for my induction was terrifying for me. In fact, I almost cancelled it three times. Every doubt about myself flooded in, ‘what if I make a fool of myself’, ‘what if I can’t work the equipment’. In the end it was fine and I walked out of there so proud of myself!
I’ve been back regularly since, learning new equipment, building up my stamina through cardio work on the treadmill and bike. People don’t realise, but it takes three times the effort for my muscles to push or pull a piece of equipment as it does for someone without CP. Also, I still have to have regular multiple injections in my legs to stop them going into spasm, so I have to take it a bit more easy after those.
The ‘exercise rush’
I’d heard about this ‘exercise rush’ some people talk of, where your endorphins kick in when you exercise and you get a feeling of elation, well now I have experienced it too! I feel like I am slowly becoming a new person and feeling the fear of walking into that gym and doing it anyway is part of my journey.
I’m becoming someone who is independent, confident, happier and healthier. I feel less stressed and I’m sleeping better. I have joined a Facebook Group, Getting Fit over Fifty and I am letting everyone know how I’m getting on. I think we should all encourage each other. Everyone has their demons and the more we do to build our self esteem, the more we stop those negative voices in our heads.
I’m not sure about the gym warrior title but I will try it out for a while and see how well it fits!