Cancelling the Gym Membership
I just went out looking for an image (available for my use under Creative Commons licensing, natch) to accompany my musings on why I just cancelled my gym membership and. . . just. . . gah! Wanting to attribute the image properly means that I want images that have some sort of attribution/license and those are either hard to come by or hard to decipher (because I’m a moron?). Also, if you google “image woman gym” or something along those lines, the results returned to you will contain scads of images that I don’t want to put on my blog or, really, even look at. (read: soft core porn alert)
So, no pretty pictures for you, my sweets.
But I did cancel my membership. One reason was that (duh) I wasn’t using it and nobody likes paying something for nothing. This winter (I don’t know if you’ve noticed or heard) has been brutally cold and nasty and my love of sleep and general avoidance of getting up before dawn to run to the gym in sub-freezing temps meant that there were a thousand other things (sleeeeeep) I’d rather do than go to the gym. Of course I felt guilty–guilty for my bank account (look, there’s the charge for the gym membership, the one I’m not using. What a bad financial move that is!) And guilty for my body (you’re over 40 you know; you should really lift some more.) And a bit of relationship guilt in there, too (look at Dale. The man is creeping up on 50 and has six-pack abs and can run a sub 3:15 marathon. Why am I not that dedicated?)
My ultimate response to this guilt, though, is why I went through with the cancellation instead of just hoping against hope that I’d guilt myself back to the squat cage. I realized that my guilt at not going to the gym is part and parcel of a punitive attitude I take toward my body and exercise: Make the body hurt, work it out to mold it and sculpt it, don’t let it be soft. I’m not sure this is a new realization. Years ago I told my yoga teacher that I ran to stay fit (read: thin) but that I did yoga to be good to my body.
Goodbye, guilt; goodbye, attitude that equates exercise with punishment. (I’m sure these long-term-resident guests will be back for a visit but I’ve at least shown them the door!) I like yoga; I like the way it makes my body and my mind feel. Therefore I will do it. I also am currently fond of the 7-minute exercise routine, in part because it only takes 7 minutes and works out all sorts of muscle groups and in part because I can do it on my yoga mat with the piano bench alongside. Monday and Tuesday I added 5 minutes of kettle bells to the 7-minute workout because I felt like doing it and wanted to see how it would feel. Today my thighs are in agony so I might or might not do those five minutes tomorrow. I have some persistent pain issues in my piriformis and hip and those kettle bell swings, like too much running, aggravate it in a way that isn’t productive. I don’t need constant pain in my life.
So, add the kettle bells or leave them off, both options are ok. I’ll move my body around, do some things that make me feel strong and capable, and then stop when the timer goes off or when I’ve rested enough in corpse pose. When it is no longer so freaking cold, I’ll leash up Bella the Boodle Dog and let her take me out for a drag.
For years I’ve preached the gospel that working out regularly gives you more energy and makes you feel better. This is true–until it isn’t. If working out is a chore and doing it is fuelled only by guilt or regret, then even if your body benefits, your mind doesn’t. I (we all) exist in my body; it is my permanent home. No, I don’t want it to collapse in shambles and get condemned by the city or anything, but I want to be happy spending time in it. For me, right now, that means no gyms.