Positive Body Image

Gym Perspective

The first day of October I decided to venture out and use my gym membership to get my money’s worth. This is something I struggle with no matter what gym I join. At college, I got to take P.E classes for credit. We didn’t get letter grades, just a simple “P” for Pass or an “F” for fail. I failed yoga, Jazzercise, and Zumba simply by not attending. This a common theme in my life. No matter if exercise is required, I will always find a way to say HELL NO.

Perhaps, having a gym membership is a fancy way of communicating  that you are “healthy” or at the very least, “health conscious.”

Sometimes I think to myself, what’s really the point of paying to look “better” or feel “better?”

The answer to that is always changing for me.

Anyone can work on themselves with or without a gym. I think the biggest caveat to that statement is, if you want to (and I am as stubborn as they come, with good reason though).

If you want to go ahead and get some exercise or movement into your day, DO IT! If not, absolutely fine too. There are many extracurricular activities designed to make you feel empowered and happy.

For me, I tend to like to read, to play with my dogs, watch funny Youtube videos, and even walk around the house lip-singing femme fatal songs (trust me, its my favorite Spotify Playlist).

However, if going to the gym is something you feel is right for you and will make you happy, click on the other tabs. As a recovering Bulimic, the gym is tricky. I can easily exercise for hours on end believing it is healthy and will undo the damage I’ve caused throughout the day (which is nonexistent by the way). However, try telling that to my bread hating brain.

Take a look at the other tabs to see how you can change your perspective from a mindset of WHAT SHOULD YOU DO, to WHAT WILL I WANT TO DO. This has helped me look at the gym as not a place for fear, body improvement, or necessary GAINS. Think of the gym like a library. Has anyone called you out on not going to the library?

So yes, upon first walking into the gym you usually see the cardio machines glistening with sweat at the front in eye-shot-view.

If I can get my two cents in, these machines are a crutch for my mental attitude. These machines sometimes broadcast the calories burned, and with a mindset like mine, I would like a number in the high 500’s (that’s because I’m not healthy when it comes to cardio).  

Treadmills, stair climbers, Jacob’s ladder, and whatever the hell an ARC machine is, are all lined up. If you don’t get to set up in the very front row, you are doomed to look at the backside of everyone in front of you. 

Beyond the cardio machines is usually the weight-lifting area, or what I like to call the weight-lifting arena. This is where both women and men go to pump some iron, build on muscle, and get toned. All of which fosters body sculpting. 

These two areas, in my view, are segregated gender areas. Any gender and anyone can easily participate in both sides of the gym, but rarely do we notice to social norm of what cardio equates to females. 

A fun little article on WebMD, His and Hers Fitness, describes the polarization in certain gym activities coordinated with female and males. 

“There is a difference between what men and women can do and should do,” says Margie Weiss, a personal trainer and group exercise director for three Gold’s Gyms in the Washington, D.C., area.

For example, women’s pelvises tilt more than men, so they may need to do a slightly different type of squat to protect their lower backs. This might mean turning the feet outward a bit, standing with the legs slightly wider apart, and not going down so low, Weiss says.

Because women have less muscle mass than men, they won’t bulk up as much, says Perez. But, he says, they should still use lighter weights than men to avoid the injuries that come from “too much, too often.”

So it begs my question, what do you do at the gym? For me the answer is simple;

  1. Listen to your body.
  2. Move in a way that feels good on your body.
  3. Be happy getting some movement in for the day!

That’s it! I think that’s how you do the gym properly when you love the way you already look! 

The gym is a give or a take for me. I sometimes attend, and usually frequently don’t. 

When I get to the gym, I avoid lifting weights because of my irrational fear of weight gain. It’s a trigger to draw me back towards my eating disorder. So I tend to do low intensity activities, such as walking (YES, WALKING) on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then calling it a day. 

Gym time should improve how you feel. It shouldn’t make you hate yourself, compare your body to someone else, or make you feel unworthy. Gym should also not be an activity you have to coerce yourself into going to. It’s not an excuse to say no. You are simply listening to yourself and aligning your day in order for you to be at the pinnacle of your best.

For those of us who aren’t a professional athlete, or a laborer in a job requiring rigorous or physical expenditure, we have the decision and the power to decide if the gym is going to make us happier! It is as simple as that. 

A day at the gym is not going to change my viewpoint I have towards my body. I love the way I look! And no treadmill or bench press can make me change my mind. 

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