A dear friend of mine is an instructor at a big-box fitness franchise in the city. Once a month, I go to her Friday evening BodyPump class.
I do this for two reasons: (1) To mix up my usual workout routine and do something different; and (2) deep down, I think I get some sort of perverse pleasure out of listening to awful music while women one-third my size outlift me. (It’s my form of self-flagellation, I guess. Keeps me humble.)
One Friday in May, I told myself in the morning I would go to the class later that day. It was a rainy day–the sort of day where you just want to stay inside–so when it came time to leave, I didn’t feel like going.
Still, I packed my gym bag and got in the car. In my mind, I kept thinking, “I don’t really want to go. I don’t really want to go. I don’t really want to go.” No matter how much I turned the volume up on the car stereo, the abrasive, metallic aural assault of Dillinger Escape Plan’s excellent new album, One of Us Is the Killer, couldn’t drown out that voice in my head.
I was stopped at a red light halfway to the gym when I thought to myself, “Aaron, you can still turn around and go back home.”
The light turned green. I kept driving to the gym.
I pulled into the parking lot, shut off the car, took the keys out of the ignition and sat there.
The voice in my head wouldn’t let up: “Aaron, you can start the car back up right now, turn around and go back home. You do not need to go inside.”
(Apparently, the voice inside my head has no concept of how ridiculous it is for someone to drive 10 kilometres in rush hour traffic only to turn around immediately after they’ve reached their destination.)
Anyway, I figured since I had come that far, I might as well suck it up and go work out.
When I saw my friend before the class started, we made some small talk about how miserable the weather was.
“I almost didn’t feel like coming today,” she told me. “It took some serious self-talk to get me here.”
This was a revelation.
Setting aside for one moment the fact that my friend is paid to go to the gym and lead the class, which is a kind of motivation in and of itself, I always assumed it must be super easy for her to show up. Like, I have this image in my mind of her leaving her house and practically skipping to her car, because she’s so eager to work out.
I suppose whenever I see people who are in good shape, I figure getting motivated to go the gym must be really easy for them.
Talking with my friend before the class made me realize otherwise.
I was relating this story to my counsellor a week or two later, and telling him how that exchange really changed my perception. He told me, “Aaron, people have looked at you and thought the same thing: ‘I bet it’s easy for him.’”
“Really?” I asked.
“I’m 100 per cent sure,” he replied.
This was another revelation.
As the first 545 (give or take) words of this post indicate, it’s not easy for me, or at least, it isn’t easy all the time.
When I have my nutrition dialled in and I’m sticking to my plan, I look forward to my workouts and practically skip to the car because I can’t wait to get to the gym.
But other days, I’m fighting myself the entire car ride, and no amount of Dillinger Escape Plan can get me psyched.
I mention this because I figure if I can talk myself into working out, I really think anybody can.
I realize maybe that sounds trite–it’s really hard for me to write this post without concluding with some irritating, Pinterest-ready platitude–but I really think it’s true.
If I can do it, you can do it.