I had driven past it every day on my way home.
I wasn’t ready yet, but I was going to go in there…someday….
Well, at least that’s what I told myself.
Up until this point, the farthest I’d gotten was the parking lot.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did make it to the front desk exactly one time, but I didn’t really count that as “going in”, since it was the very first time, and afterwards I had never darkened its doorstep again.
What were they all doing in there?
I had ridiculous visions of them all gathered around the weight benches, fist bumping each other, grunting, and pumping iron.
I was not an athletic person by any means, and I certainly could not imagine that I would ever be a person that would drive to this place happily, on purpose, and walk into those doors to be subjected to what ever exhaustive regimen or exercise in futility that awaited me.
But every once in a while, I would get sassy, wrestle myself into my workout clothes, and drive there, with inspired intentions, and there I would sit, in the parking lot, watching everyone going in and out.
What did they know that I did not?
Why did all of those people look so determined to be there?
And why was it was all I could do to drag myself to the parking lot and then try trick to myself into going inside?
I felt like there were some big secret that everyone knew about the gym, that if I drove there enough times, I would figure out. Like I would have some sort of moment of clarity, or an true epiphany…or a maybe a paranormal psychic vision.
And if not, sooner or later, I thought, I was going to get out of the car and march right in there and find out.
But today was not that day.
Today, I still had too many excuses to offer myself, only one of which was the fact that my Caramel Macchiato was still hot. I had paid five dollars for that tasty distraction, so I wasn’t just going to leave it in the car to get cold while I went into the gym…
Hell no, that was just crazy talk.
But I admit, I was curious.
It had been several years since I had purchased my membership, and as I mentioned before, in that time I had never even made it past the front desk I had encountered on that very first that day I had signed up.
Three years ago, I had seen a sign out front offering free diabetes testing in the lobby.
I had suspected for a while that I might be diabetic, and I had no medical insurance. So it seemed like a perfect opportunity to address my mounting suspicions, and the increasing symptoms I had been experiencing.
The look on the lady’s face when she looked at the glucose meter after taking my blood sugar, was more than enough confirmation that indeed there was an issue.
I felt like it might be time to do something about my tentative diagnosis, so I went ahead and made a grand gesture to the universe, and joined the gym.
But that was the extent of it.
A couple of months later I had attempted to complete a 5K, but was disappointed in my lack of motivation. I had come in last, limping a 26 minute mile and feeling like I had been put through the ringer.
It was physically painful, and emotionally draining, and it only confirmed that exercise was both unpleasant and abhorrent.
As far as I was concerned exercise was like torture. Something to be endured and tolerated as a means to an end.
I think it was a big part of the reason why successful weight-loss had eluded me for so many years. When it came to the necessity exercise, I just never found a way to make it enjoyable.
Every fiber of my being was against it.
I wanted to find a way to get started, and I knew I needed to, but I just couldn’t manage to get the ball rolling.
Because my basic instinct was to avoid such things at all costs, and the voices in my head were all shouting in unison, “Nope, nope, soooooo much nope.”
Paralyzed with indecision, I could not make my move, but eventually something had to give.
So here I was, once again, in the parking lot, sipping my expensive excuse, and feeling like a failure.
And that was about the time, that I began to think of ways to amuse myself to pass the time until the Grand Canyon full of my excuses emptied out.
If the gym was such a source of perceived unpleasantness, perhaps I simply needed to find a way to make it fun.
Perhaps I needed a different approach.
Afterall, nothing else had worked.
Up until now, nothing had really changed, except my bank account, every month reminding me, that I was paying for this voyeuristic amusement.
So, why not enjoy it?
So I began to entertain myself with my own observational narrative within a National Geographic style type documentary format, as I pretended to study the natural habitat of the North American Gym Rat.
I was whispering in my best British accent, as if I was crouched out in the wild, watching them from behind a camouflaged perch, while studying their highly evolved migratory patterns.
I watched from them from afar, as they came and went with such purpose, giving commentary to their movements, and observing the scientific anomalies of their comings and goings.
They intrigued me with their matriculation, and I observed their migration to and from the mysterious building.
*INSERT BRITISH ACCENT HERE*
“The curious migration of the North American Gym Rat can be marked by the instinctual need to follow a pattern.
The Gym Rat is determined to complete a purpose by entering and exiting the burrow, with various accessories in tow, including small towels, water bottles, ear phones, and yoga mats.
The North American Gym Rat is a hearty species that functions with instinct and determination as a whole. I suspect that often once inside, they combine their efforts with others of their species, while thriving as a like minded community.”
I was suspicious of my findings.
I could only learn so much in the field. And in order to fully study the structured community in which they functioned, I would eventually need to move in closer.
I would need to fold into the fray, become one of the group, and intermingle as one of their own.
I would have to disguise myself among them in order to get to the root of their true motivation, and observe them in their natural habitat.
After all, it was for science.
So under the guise of information gathering, I equipped myself with the necessary accessories, and fell flawlessly into the formation of a group migrating towards the door.
*RESUME BRITISH ACCENT *
“After making it through into the familiar front entrance to the burrow, I then observed many of them disappearing through another door, and dispersing into various directions within the labyrinth of the refuge .
I spent the better part of the day following groups of them into different rooms and experiencing their communal rituals.
I enjoyed engaging in vigorous water exercises as well as a machine called a “treadmill”. I was able to walk upon it quite effortlessly, while simultaneously watching successive episodes of “Cops”, which I admit that I found to be quite enjoyable.
One of the more curious activities in which I participated, was a group activity referred to as yoga.
It was during this exercise in which I thought I might be inadvertently exposed as an outsider. My lack of flexibility had caused me to hesitate, and many of the positions in which the others were contorting themselves, were difficult for me to emulate. I tried to stay vigilant in the midst of holding a formation called “Downward Dog” (upon which they attempt to transform themselves into inverted canines), but I found them to be dutifully distracted by their own experiences, and quite unaware of my lack of graceful prowess.
I continued to move among them with ease, and although I found many of their rituals to be somewhat peculiar, I also found them to be oddly amiable and surprisingly gratifying.
They had accepted me as one of their own, and I now felt as though I could live among them, and finally begin to fully understand the intricacies of their community.”
I was one of them now.
The more that I participated and tried new things, the more seemingly enjoyable it all became. The “torture” eventually turned to determination and purpose, and I knew that I had found my answers. There were so many things to experience, and I reveled in it.
What I found inside those doors was transformative.
Of course there were some days when it was harder to get through that door than others. Some days I still questioned my sanity as I mustered up the energy to honor my commitment to myself. But even then, I always knew, that on my way out I would be in a different mindset.
Every time I came out, I was glad I had gone in.
Finding a way to make peace with my gym-phobia, finally allowed me to tap into a whole new resource, which eventually helped me to successfully lose more than 150 pounds.
And after many months of exhaustive research on the patterns and the curious migration of the North American Gym Rat, my myriad of observations and experiences had led me to one inevitable and decisive conclusion…
Apparently, you CAN teach a Downward Dog new tricks.