Before Texas, I never actually went to the gym. There were school gyms, and kendo section (also in school gym) but never “gym” gym. It’s one of those new discoveries in US — the local “super”-gym. An impressive structure, with showers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, machines, free weights, running tracks, basketball courts and rock climbing.
It’s like a small city, humming along 24 hours a day. Busy in morning and evening rush hour, empty and deserted during the night. Night crews walking around, cleaning and vacuuming, picking up occasional forgotten things.
But more impressive than structure itself, was how it can be a boost or destruction of motivation to go there. Depending on the time of the day, it’s either a sample of what one can do with years of training and hard work (plus those special “additives”), or how one can let oneself go. Or how people can build a giant hamster amusement park.
That was my first thought — my gosh, it’s like a cage with hamsters. Tons of people, running in place, huffing and puffing, pushing and pulling on spring-loaded arms, running away to drink water at the fountain every so often and not doing anything productive. Plus, the shape of some visitors certainly also makes you think of hamsters, though not as fuzzy and with better teeth.
On the other end of the spectrum are usually guys who know pretty much everything about how/when/how many times to do on which machine, which exercise and which other piece of a health puzzle and could be used for greek sculpture modeling. At that point you understand, that without 20 years of non-stop exercise you won’t be able to stand next to them without looking like a balloon animal or a stick figure. Yes, stick figure too, as to my surprise there are people that simply don’t gain weight no matter what they eat. I usually tell myself that my gut is way more efficient — walking and lifting and swimming doesn’t change much how much I weight. Shape may change a bit, but short of starving myself on a diet (which makes me extra cranky, and you don’t want to deal with me when I’m cranky) I manage to pull out more than enough energy from seemingly not very caloric food.
So, I don’t compare any more. I go when I feel the need to move and stretch and run for a bit, and I learned not to care about the surroundings (thank you, noise canceling mp3 player).
If you feel demotivated about exercising, don’t go big, go small instead. Shorter visits, at odd times, where you have more space and choices to yourself. With time, it all adds up.
And then one day you will look at the hamster action during the day and realize — you’ve traveled quite a distance, and got real results.
Plus, now some health insurance providers give you a discount if you go to the gym. Of course a bit of snooping usually is involved — Blue Cross Blue Shield, for example, plugged gym’s admission card scanning systems into its own computers, and they can actually see if you go to run three times a week, like you claimed on their form. An extra motivation boost.
Don’t give up, and good luck!