I got a YMCA membership last month, finally. I got it for the primary purpose of doing more strength training than my “home gym” (two kettlebells, a cat-gouged yoga mat, and a couple of ancient 10lb dumbells) would allow. I started going to yoga classes twice a week with Jill, which I love, and went swimming and hot-tubbing there with Allan a couple of times. But I’ve been more or less completely ignoring the actual weight section because, well, I’m terrified.
Here’s something you should know about me: I’m a giant scaredy cat wuss when it comes to potentially awkward social situations. Like wandering over to a room full of sweaty men and doing something weird and awkward that I’ve never done before. And potentially making a giant fool of myself. And getting angry stares from the one or two ladies that are over there for making the whole gender look bad.
Or maybe that’s all in my head. But anyway, I was pretty scared.
So last week (or the week before? time moves quickly, guys) Jill and I went over after yoga one day and decided to brave it. So we…stood around awkwardly, glancing nervously at all the unfamiliar equipment and machines, trying to figure out what was what while the place was packed and we didn’t really know what to do. Eventually (with some very unnecessary assistance from a random young man) we managed to crank out a few sets of deadlifts with more or less random weight, trying to figure out how much to lift. We chalked it up to a success and got the hell out of there.
I went back by myself last Friday (poor Jilly has been sick), determined to stride in there boldly and do the three lifts I knew I wanted to do and had watched countless videos on youtube for preparation: deadlift, squat, overhead press. I knew what I was looking for. I knew what to do. I wasn’t sure how much weight to use, but I’d dial it in. I’d show those boys that I wasn’t afraid of them.
Turns out, I was super afraid of them. I ended up running on the treadmill for a while (ugh) and then used a couple of the machines – leg extensions, lat pulls. I did crazy high weight – enough that I couldn’t do more than 6-8 reps at a time, which was just as I was going for. I was sore for days, and excited that I had actually done something really hard that was going to give me real strength gains.
So after skipping taekwondo last night, I wanted to go do that again. But not exactly that. I wanted to do the right lifts, dangit! The ones I know I should be doing! The full body, compound movements that build all-over strength.
So, much to my feminist shame, I took my husband. He didn’t know what the hell to do. It didn’t matter. He was purely moral support and weirdo repellent. Even if I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, none of the dudes there would get up in my business about it when I had a big sexy man by my side. But it’s not even that, really. I’m braver with him around. He pushes me out of my comfort zone without really even having to try. Even though we’ve been together for 7 years and married for 5, I still do things I normally wouldn’t to impress him. So we got right in there, and we took our time, and we investigated machines and equipment and figured out what they did. We shamelessly stopped to read instructions and poke around and try things. I finally found the squat cage, and experimented with different weights until I got a decent workout. And the intimidation went away! And I felt so proud of myself (and us!) for figuring this silly stuff out!
So now I’m feeling about a million times better about the gym experience in general. Even though I didn’t do everything I wanted to, I feel like I could walk in there now and experiment with confidence. I’m pumped to go back with Jill and share my n00b expertise with her. We are going to lift ALL THE THINGS and become the strongest, sexiest ladies in town. And I’m thankful for the reminder that my husband makes me a stronger, better, braver person. I’ve seen men who make their women smaller, more helpless, more needy. And mine is not one of them. We feed off of each other’s strengths at every turn. And that’s awesome.
Comfort zones are for sissies. For real.