Today I went back to the gym. Oh so guiltily. And stealthily. On tiptoes.

I signed up as a member in August, and that monthly fee has been leaving my account faithfully. I was full of good intentions. Then I got a contract. The contract was horrible. And predictably, it took all my energy just to survive my life, and I let the gym drop off the radar. I didn’t go once, after the first time. PLUS – I shelled out for five personal training sessions. Which I also didn’t use.

Cue beating myself up every time I thought of the gym, or passed it. What an embarrassment. What a waste of money. What a loser I am, not to follow through. And my bones are feeling hollow, my limbs so weak. Why oh why didn’t I go?

I was convinced the sessions had expired. They’d said something about three months when I set them up.

And there is another part. I think this stopped me in my tracks also. I have issues with exercise – I seem to get dissociated, or I end up shutting down afterwards, not functioning for the rest of the day. So, I talked to them about it, in August. I said I had an anxiety condition triggered by exercise, so I needed to take it really slow. And the person there was sympathetic, and kind of making a big deal of my ‘problem’. Which made me feel small and ashamed after. Why did they have to know this?

So, today I was feeling energetic. ish. So this afternoon I went along to the gym at last. I walked on the treadmill fifteen minutes. It felt good to get my heart rate up. I did a few of the weight machines, though I don’t really know which ones to do.

After, I spoke to the guy at the front desk. I told him my sorry tale, joining in August, not coming back until now, I had these sessions booked – what did he think? A nice guy – a guy’s guy, someone I would never normally talk to. He looked me up on the system, he made a call. It’s good. I can still have my training sessions even after all this time. I was grinning all over my face, so so pleased, as if I’d been reprieved from a guilty sinner’s hell.

I got assigned to a woman, and we meet on Wednesday. Hopefully she will know nothing about my anxiety – I’ll just say I want to go slow. I feel like the lost sheep, accepted back into the fold.

I wonder if personal trainers are also specialists in guilt? So much failure to follow through on good intentions?

Tonight I didn’t shut down, post workout. I feel a little trembly and weepy, and things are a bit silent internally. But not too bad. I have one more week until I start working again – at least I can get set up with a program, and hopefully continue once work starts. It’s easier to continue things than to start them in the first place.

I’m glad I did this. Yay me.

  1. Do you listen to your iPod when you work out? Music you enjoy? I was wondering if you had something to ground you? Or maybe doing group sessions? I too have been avoiding the gun because of the sense of disassociation I get. I tried alternating classes, or in this case I’ve joined a gym with a pool, swimming being my reward. My husband can only fit 20 minutes in, he feels no guilt about it at all. So I wonder why we feel the need to stay longer. You could always see the membership out and stick with walking. You aren’t answerable to anyone. Especially people that aren’t understanding or adaptable xx

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I do listen to my iPod, though this time it was a radio program I was interested in. I actually don’t have a problem staying only half an hour – that’s how long I stayed. I like swimming also, but this gym is small – no pool. If I did that, I would only swim – that would be enough. I’m not very fit, and I want to avoid massive dissociation, which is what would happen if I did a lot of exercise, like a class for instance. I don’t feel guilt about not doing enough, and I’m not concerned about my weight – I just want to be healthier. This gym time was good for me – I had some trouble sleeping, but I also have more energy today. I want to get it established this week, then continue somehow once I’m working again.

      Thanks for commenting Penny

  2. Ashana M said:

    Oh, I love when you fear the worst and things work out right after all. I’m sure the gym is over-run with people with good intentions who end up not going.

    I can imagine your family never understood the concept of forgiveness.

    • Ellen said:

      It’s funny how fears are almost always way overblown – avoidance is more painful than facing the fearful thing. My family is perfectionist – nope, not a lot of forgiveness going on. I am forgiving myself, when I remember. Thanks Ashana

      • Ashana M said:

        Oh, I frequently minimize mine and then realize I ought to have done something more about them. πŸ™‚

        Remember, for many other people, forgiveness is normal. They notice a mistake, then forgive it.

  3. Cat said:

    Definitely yay yay yay yay you! It would’ve been so easy not to show face. I happen to know a personal trainer and you would be surprised just how many people book block training but never attend, that is why they often prefer you to pay upfront, otherwise they would have weeks full of potential pay but nothing ever materialising. This is so common, I imagine it IS part of training, certainly an awareness of what makes people procrastinate would be necessary for success, IMO. Hope you don’t ache too much tomorrow πŸ˜‰

    • Ellen said:

      That is interesting – it makes sense. Maybe they take a whole class on dealing with customers who feel guilty. πŸ™‚ This guy was quite kind – he didn’t make any judgmental type comments. I can feel some muscles today, but nothing too terrible, thanks. I also feel quite awake today, with all my muscles woken up! So far, so good. Thanks Cat.

  4. Jay said:

    Yay to you jumping back into gym and to the kind guy who helped you out. Reading this post, I sensed a lot of shame about not living up to the goals you set yourself and needing to do a certain amount or type of gym without fail, or else? Maybe I just recognized that all-or-nothing bully voice. The one that makes me feel weak. It is a voice of rigidity and hardness. Despite the difficult feelings and thoughts, you went for it. So so proud of you. Overcoming avoidance is not easy.

    • Ellen said:

      It’s definitely a guilt inducing voice. Though my standards are very low – because I am paying every month, I think I should show up there a few times. That’s it. I don’t set high standards for workouts or anything. I wonder if there’s also some other, harassing voice, since my family were perfectionists, it could be there. Thanks for the kind words.

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