confessions of a gym virginGyms – they’re not just a place for buff guys with arms like logs and gals with a penchant for lycra to hang out. Normal people go there and its kinda normal. This may not be news to you, but it sure was to me.

Three moths ago I stepped into a gym for the first time. I kid you not. In my short 37 years of existence I had never been closer to a gym than to wander past the front door and grimace at the thumping music coming from within. I could provide a whole bunch of reasons why, but it really comes down to two things:

  1. I was too self conscious to go to a place I thought was filled with mirrors and beautiful people; and
  2. I had no idea how to use any of that intimidating looking equipment

I’ve had a big old belly and wobbly chunks of flesh for a very long time and deep down wanted to do something about it. I am tired of buying trousers that are too long just so they will go around my waist, and wearing shirts that billow like parachutes just so I can button the collar around my neck. I avoid the beach and on the rare visit to the local pool I self consciously waddle to the edge, whip off my shirt and get under the water as quickly as possible. I do up my belt and am embarrassed by the doughy bulge of belly that spills over it.

santa sack bacon quoteOver the years I’ve had treadmills, exercise bikes and trailer loads of good intentions, but never any real success. I lacked the will power and discipline to get the results I really wanted. I did go to Weight Watchers for twelve months in 2013 and had some success – I got myself down from 103kg to 90kg. I was really happy with this result, but my sedentary lifestyle was not helping and I plateaued. I was eating better, but not losing any more weight; my stomach still protruded like a santa sack filled with bacon.

I might have gone on like this, resigned to being unhappy with my weight and appearance. I remember on one of those rare trips to the pool thinking I was now old enough to get away with a big stomach, and if I invested in a pair of speedos would easily fit in with the grey-haired men in their flip-flops who lounged under umbrellas. Then my uncle had another heart attack; my best mate had heart surgery; another had a shoulder and knee reconstruction; and I sprained myself in the first two minutes of a staff vs students soccer match. I found myself struggling to chase my kids around the house.

I was scared. I didn’t want to have a heart attack at 40. I wanted to be around to see my kids grow-up, walk my daughters down the aisle, and take my grandkids on holidays. I had decades of living left, but realised I was in no physical shape to make such a long trip.

I realised that I had to change what I was doing. There was no point promising myself that I would go for a walk every day, or undertake a regime of sit-ups. I knew I didn’t have the will power to keep it up. I needed someone to keep me accountable, so I started looking around at the options. An ad kept popping up in my Facebook feed for a local gym. They had a picture of movie star with a totally “ripped” body and promised me I could also look like that. Dubious, but desperate, I sent them an email and waited for a reply.

They called me. Twice. I liked their persistence, they wanted my business, so I went to an interview to talk about what I wanted to achieve. The guy I spoke to had arms like tree trunks, but what he told me made sense – no weird supplements; scientific measurement of my fat loss and muscle gain; and piles of hard work. The clincher, though, was I would be working with a trainer who would manage my exercise, guide my diet and keep me accountable. Accountability was my missing link – it’s what I needed to go from wanting to do something to actually doing it.

That was three months ago. Three months of hard work and lots of filthy, dripping sweat. But I am so proud of myself for sticking with it, and I am starting to see results! I’ll talk more about this very soon!

Do you go to the gym? Do you work with a trainer, or exercise with friends? Or do you have more willpower than me and keep yourself on a steady fitness regime?