On Joining a Gym

January 28, 2009 § 4 Comments

One of the wonderful (sigh) parts of breaking up, in my case, is finding a new gym.  No, no, it’s not like that.  The guy and I are on good terms, and the breakup is only part of the reason I’m switching.  I decided to go to that gym (our gym) because it was where he went, and it was close to his house – which meant it was NOT close to my house and pretty inconvenient to get to.  Also, it was really small, didn’t have a locker room or showers, and had a very limited selection of machines and stuff.

So, as much as I could probably deal with bumping into him at the gym, I decided it would be best to switch to a nicer, more conveniently located one.  Also, in the interest of “healing,” it’s probably best to un-glue ourselves and take some space to rebuild our individual lives.

Choosing a new gym is easier said than done, though.  I had four options.  The Northampton Athletic Club (NAC), the YMCA, Planet Fitness, and a smaller independent gym called Universal.

NAC is the biggest, fanciest, and most expensive gym in the area.   It’s a huge facility, with all the amenities.  I hate the NAC.  I’m not sure why I hate it as much as I do.  Maybe because it’s big and impersonal?  Maybe it’s because I run into people from high school there?  Maybe it’s because you have to sign up for the machines, and you often have to wait.  And if you accidentally sign up for “crosstrainer 4” instead of “elliptical 3” someone yells at you.  Plus there’s lots and lots of fitness nuts and beautiful people.  I don’t like working out around beautiful people.

My next stop was to check out the YMCA.   The YMCA had done some extensive rennovations since I had last been there for swimming lessons as a kid, but even so, the whole place still smelled like pool.  The workout rooms were located on the other side of the building from the locker room, which was exactly as I remembered it from swim lessons: a damp, cramped, cave.

So.. it was on to my next stop, Planet Fitness.  Planet Fitness really is another planet.   It’s a complete, sensory overload.  Everything in this one GIANT room is bright purple and yellow.  There are big, pseudo-inspirational slogans high up on the walls.  There are tanning booths along one wall, massage chairs outside the locker rooms, generic music over the loadspeaker, and .. worst of all .. two rows of about 60 various cardio machines lined up against the back wall.  All of them occupied.  When you turn to look at that wall, head on, you are looking at a massive army running in place.  It was swarming with college kids.  It may only be $10 a month, but I’m not sure I would go there even if it were free.

My search ended at Universal.   And thank goodness.  The guy who gave me a tour at Universal was warm and friendly.  He asked my name.  It’s one giant space split into four different areas, one of them for cardio machines, one for circuit/nautilus machines, and one for free weights.  There were so many new machines I had never seen before that I felt like a kid in a candy store!  Also, the cardio machines were staggered so that there was no fear of a stationary army of ipod-donning clones.   Yes, I chose Universal.

Universal has a bit of a reputation for being filled with muscle-heads.  And, to be fair, it does have some of the biggest dudes I have ever seen.  When I went there today, I realized that I actually prefer working out around big, hulky guys to working out around other women.  It’s the anti-Curves effect.  Other women make me self-conscious because I will inevitably compare myself to them.  Big guys, however, will always make me feel small.  And lifting 5, 10, and 12 lb dumbells in their power-lifting midst makes me feel cute, as well as fearless and spunky for infiltrating the ultimate zone of masculinity.

It’s amazing the wonders a good workout can do for your self esteem.  I have high hopes for Universal and I.  I hope I get comfortable there.  I hope that I will get to know some of the regulars.  I hope my free orientation session with a personal trainer will jumpstart my old routine, and I hope that working out again will help lift my mood, increase my self-esteem, and get me through this breakup.


§ 4 Responses to On Joining a Gym

  • Robin G says:

    Regular exercise is a good thing. Gyms and I have never agreed (mostly because I won’t go on days that it’s cold, and then somehow I miss two months, and then I don’t ever get in the habit of going back), but I hope it works for you.

  • jojo says:

    oh man, i went to a…sort of anorexic/pilates-old-lady gym + muscle head + army of people on the ellipticals one long hallway pseudo-divided gym in watertown for a while (i guess a year ago) when i was still in ‘tham– i liked feeling like a grown up and going there and ignoring everyone and getting into my own routine, but boy were there some scary folks. i’d avoided the curves effect, but ended up being watched by the old ladies or eyed by the track-team high schoolers or i swear to god middle schoolers-keeping-fit-indoors-in-the-winter…so by having no one in my age/body range i was kind of like an adventurous explorer and could feel completely safe/alone/doing my thang…or else feel like a freak of nature. it was a trade off. what a weird gym. i do miss being a part of one though. i’ve been thinking of joining one in porter square…and blue cross blue shield reimburses you for 3 months of gym. yeahhhh. this has been my nerd transmission.

    (i have been meaning to/started to write a poem that included some gym-oddities…)xojojo

    p.s. we should play soon, uh huh

  • Rachel says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your break up.

    All of the gyms around here are tiny and ridiculously expensive. But you’re right, they do do a lot for self-esteem, and in that regard, are totally worth it!

  • groxybredge says:

    Super article. i will definitely come back again soon.

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