Gym Angst

In this day and age, when most people work indoors and at a “desk job”, it is becoming more and more popular to do something (anything!) in order to keep fit.

I personally feel that I fall – or gently slip – into the category of uncomfortable and awkward whenever I consider going to the gym, or boot camp, or crossfit or ….. EXERCISE!

“But why?” You might ask. 

I have a physical disability and dignity, after all!

“Yeah, so why are you uncomfortable?”

For me there are times when generally being out and about in society, not necessarily doing exercise, I will feel awkward.  I sometimes feel as though I’m standing out purely based on my appearance. So the thought of putting myself in a physically demanding, and potentially awkward, situation does not seem so appealing.

I’ve heard plenty of stories about people feeling and behaving awkwardly at the gym. Most recently was in a local weekend news article, where law student Marion Cory talks about blurring the gender divide in the gym.  Although this article is about gender identity I feel a connection and understanding when Marion writes: “So, for the people like me who don’t quite belong … trying to blend in at the gym can be as difficult as doing deadlifts with a torn hamstring.”

Or, “Behind their stares hides a deep and unanswered fear of the unknown. But there is tremendous power in the unknown. If we choose to roam that terrain, we create our own realities while threatening those of ‘normal’ people.”

Just last week a friend told me about their experience a few days prior, where a male was using intimidating and sexist language to hurry someone off a piece of gym equipment that they wanted to use. The positive end to the story was that gym staff pulled up this young buck and told him to “pull his head in or don’t come back.”

I reflected back to when I was young and my dad told me that, in an aerobic step class he attended regularly, there was a new member who had started coming along. My dad somewhat proudly said that this new member had a physical disability, probably a lot like my own – cerebral palsy. He then proceeded to relate that part way through the aerobic step class the new member fell off their step with a mighty crash. However, he got right back up and carried on!

Internally I debate whether the ultimate ending to this story is positive or stupid. The new member to the aerobic step class came back the following week, even more determined, and wearing a crash helmet. I thought, “Hm! Really? Isn’t there something safer?”  Or at least less embarrassing!

So with all these stories, plus more, my current view on gyms and the like is that if you feel confident, if you have the guts (and a crash helmet) GO FOR IT! But for now I will keep pondering, keep walking home as my daily exercise, and maybe one day I’ll overcome my own angst about going to the gym.

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2 thoughts on “Gym Angst

  1. I agree, if walking from work is your way of exercising, go ahead – at least you’re doing something, which is more than a lot of us can say! My way of overcoming gym angst involved trying to keep in mind that my fellow gym bunnies were there for much the same reasons I was – to tame the flabby, cellulitey (is that even a word?), not-so-attractive bits we all have, and they were concentrating too hard on this to pay attention to me. Ah, so good to know we’re all in this together. As a last resort though, I fantasized that anyone staring at me was thinking, “Wow! Look at that strong, capable, ballsy disabled woman, working out at the gym! If she can do what she’s doing, I can sure as heck handle a few more reps!” (Anyone who knows me will immediately see through this – but the thought was there, and this feeling of strength got me through some hard times).

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