We moved to a new state recently (as you can see by my absolute neglect of this blog!), and with that move I have had to find a new gym in which to train. Well…let’s be honest. I joined two gyms. (Gasp!) Put it this way: I calculated if I drink two less bottles wine per month (or just one really good bottle), I could easily afford the second gym. (I am well aware that this is not how finances work in most adult people’s heads. To that I say…whatever.) So I joined the YMCA, which is a reasonable place for a woman of my age (mom-age) to workout and it has 2 pools. And then I joined this other gym.
“Other Gym” has 10 squat racks, 15 lat pulldown machines (I was told this during the tour- I didn’t actually count), and I am easily one of the least in-shape people in there. Which is saying a lot, because I am in pretty good shape. Not like “look good naked” shape, but “can rock a pair of skinny jeans and a tank top” shape. I texted all of this to my coach Mitch (yes, I have a coach…I’ll get into that later, but let me just say…it’s the bomb!) and he was like, “This gym sounds perfect!” I rolled my eyes, and thought that of course it sounded perfect to him because he’s like 30 and jacked and I am like…older…with stretch marks…and I’m a mom.
I needed Other Gym though because it was pretty perfect for me, actually. Since last year, I have developed a pretty serious obsession with learning how to weight train with barbells. I’ll enumerate the reasons why lifting is awesome and changed me in many good ways in other posts, but for now, let’s just say that I needed a place with plenty of space to pick up heavy things and put them down. Which this gym has in abundance. Which is how I came up with the magic Wine Formula to justify its cost while driving home from my free trial.
So let’s go back to the main clientele of this gym…which is not middle aged women who don’t look good naked (there are some middle aged ladies there, but they are like bikini competitors, so we’re aren’t even playing in the same league there). The main clientele of this gym is young-ish dudes who are either a) seriously jacked or b) wanting really badly to be jacked (some of you moms out there may have sons in this category?). So they are generally either a) pushing, pulling, or throwing tons of heavy weight around or b) doing bicep curls and watching the young men from the first category.
And then there’s me.
And I walk in with my lifting shoes, my book where I record my workouts, and maybe like a lacrosse ball because I am old and I have things that hurt that might need to be rolled out because they’re getting old and tired. And I get one of a couple of reactions:
- Most common: The raised eyebrow…like a “Did that lady take a wrong turn somewhere? The cardio machines are at the front of the gym.“
- Also common: The blank stare…with the thought, “What…the…hell.. is happening here?“
- Not so common, but mostly from the “B” group boys… The crestfallen face with “Damn. I’m about to be outdone by an old lady” written all over it.
But since I have been practicing under coaches both in person and online for more than a year now, I feel pretty confident about my barbell skills. So I screw up my courage, find a place among the 10 squat racks, and do my thing.
And after a few warm-up sets when my bones and joints and all the other things get back into the places that they need to go, the young men seemed to put away their reactions and get back to what they were doing. A few keep their eye on what I am doing, but I think that’s pretty normal in the gym. At least…I think that’s normal to be stared at, right?
My coach from Michigan sent me a text saying, “You just keep lifting heavy and someone will come along and want to be your lifting partner.” Somehow, in the group of young bros, I am a little doubtful of this actually happening. Which is OK. I get it. No one wants to have to rescue somebody’s mom when her heart gives out in the middle of a back squat on their watch (I know, I’m not that old to you…but to them? Ancient.)
So I have been on the lookout for a woman partner. The women who venture into the barbell area of the gym typically come in two varieties, and there have been a total of 4 of them in the month I have been there.
- Girl following boyfriend or boy…friend. Not lifting, just watching because she’s done with the cardio.
- Women who are hell bent on using the cable machine in the one of the squat rack areas. I can’t really explain this phenomenon. There’s plenty of cables other places.
My wish is that more women would find the same kind of empowerment and strength that I do in barbell training. It’s been an incredible experience to lift and learn some really important physical and mental lessons about myself. In addition, I have made even more peace with my body and found a way to totally appreciate all that it does for me. These lessons aren’t just unique to me, though. Through the magic of the interwebz, I have met many women who feel the same way about lifting heavy things. Just that most of them don’t live in a 10 mile radius of me, or I haven’t met them yet.
Until I do, I’ll be standing in my (self) designated mom’s squat rack. That’s the 6th one down the row. 🙂