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“I’m a retired athlete.”
If you hang around my boyfriend and me long enough, you’re sure to hear this joke thrown around. In college, I was a cheerleader and he played ultimate frisbee. When we graduated in 2017 and moved to LA, all of a sudden we both missed the structure and team energy of organized sports. Seeing as we were now adults, however, we had no opportunity to easily join a team. After working at desk jobs for a while, we realized that we were slowly (at least I’d like to think it was slow) losing our athleticism. Sitting all day will do that to you. In January, we decided to join a bouldering gym. This was great because we had something new and physically challenging to learn, but not great because it was very expensive and we couldn’t do it before work. If you’ve ever been bouldering, you know that your forearms are useless for a few hours afterwards, especially if you need to type at a computer all day.
So time went by and we used the small amount of gym equipment in the mornings before work and went climbing on Sundays. The problem with doing a workout almost solely with free weights every day, especially for someone who isn’t really an expert, is that you get bored with the six exercises in your repertoire and plateau pretty quickly. The initial rush I had felt when we joined wore off and I felt like I wasn’t progressing at all.
In July, we moved to a new apartment in Hollywood. We found our nearest Gold’s Gym and signed up. After the initial shock of crowds of beefy men packing the gym full at 7 AM, I started to learn where the different machines that I liked were situated, and how to compromise when something was being used. I also started to (thank god) notice regular people in the gym with me, and could look past the giant manly biceps to see the middle aged crowd and the normal-sized women. This might sound weird, but it really helps to catch glimpses of people putting in work like you are, and not just see a wall of huge intimidating muscle all the time.
After getting used to the gym, we decided that having access to machines wasn’t enough. We wanted some structure and needed to feel motivated to get up and go in the mornings. This prompted us to find some workout plans. I found a free 12-week, 5 days a week program. On the first day of the plan, we hopped out of bed at 6am and walked to the gym to get started. It felt amazing to work up a sweat and hold myself accountable to something, even if it was just a picture on my phone of the Monday-Legs & Glutes workout.
On the second day of the plan, I was so sore that I could barely walk. Thankfully, day two was a back and arms day, so I figured by the time legs rolled around again I’d be good to go. On day three, I was so sore that I could barely walk up and down the stairs of our apartment. So maybe I overdid it a little. The soreness lasted most of the first week, but I pushed through anyway. I knew that if I didn’t stick to the plan in the beginning, I wouldn’t set a good foundation and would probably fall off the bandwagon later down the road. So I kept waking up at 6am, drinking protein shakes, and moving my sore muscles through my workouts. And guess what? I felt amazing. Even though I was waking up earlier every day than I had in a long time and feeling so sore that it was hard to walk, I felt like I had a purpose each day and was excited to get up and go in the morning.
Flash forward to today and we’re still waking up at 6 and walking to the gym every day before work. I feel like I’ve accomplished something huge by the time I sit down in my office chair, which trickles down into my entire day. I’m more energized and productive at work, more motivated to finish projects when I get home, and I’m focusing on eating healthy and planning meals in advance. I push myself to be stronger today than I was yesterday. While the physical changes that come with regularly working out are nice, the benefit that stands out the most in my mind is how much motivation and how big of a sense of accomplishment there is each day. I feel more content and excited, and ready to take on the world. Keep your eyes peeled in about nine weeks, because I have a feeling this will only get better.