I consider myself fortunate to be a member of a small gym and health spa attached to a local hotel. Several times a week I will walk through the impressive gateway, along the tree lined drive and avail myself of the facilities. It is a lovely, friendly place, a pleasure to go to, and it has helped turn me into someone who is now reasonably fit for my age.
This is the third gym that I have belonged to. The first was many years ago. It was linked to the social club of what was then my place of work. When I joined the gym I bought myself a selection of the latest gym gear of the time and enjoyed going along a few evenings a week to work up a sweat on the bikes, rowing machines and stair climbers. After a couple of years though the site was sold for redevelopment so it had to close.
The second gym I belonged to was in my local leisure centre. Joining this seemed like a good idea at the time. I took advantage of an offer which gave me fifteen months for the price of twelve and waived the joining fee if I paid up front. Not being one to waste money I did the maths and worked out that, if I went three times each week and swam as well (at a cost of only £1 a swim if taken after a gym workout), then the membership would cost no more than swimming a couple of times a week and attending an aerobics class – my usual exercise of choice. The leisure centre is about three miles from my home; it seemed daft to me to drive somewhere in order to do some exercise so I would cycle there and back. The village I live in is on a hill so I could whizz there in next to no time; getting back was not so easy. Are you keeping up? I struggled to. For fifteen months, three times a week, I cycled six miles; did a gym workout; and swam half a mile. I was very glad when that membership expired. It put me off gyms for a long time.
I was tempted to join my current place by a friend who is a bit of a serial spa member. She belongs to at least three spas in our area and was kind enough to take me along as her guest to try a couple of them. She does not use the attached gyms so my visits with her were indulgences – a few lengths of the pool and then long chats in the hot tubs and saunas – lovely. I was tempted by the gyms though. Compared to the leisure centre facility they were small but looked so clean and quiet.
I decided that it would do no harm to get some information on the cost of joining our nearest facility. It was not cheap but it did offer a lot more than just use of a gym and pool. What swung it for me was the location (less than a mile away and no big hills!) and the inclusion of the services of a Personal Trainer. This, I thought, was what I needed; someone to motivate me, who would make sure that I was doing the things I needed to in order to achieve my goals; someone who would put me on a set of scales where I would feel embarrassed if the numbers were not heading in the right direction.
And it has worked. Within a year I had lost twenty kilograms in weight, was going on twenty-five mile cycle rides, walking in excess of ten miles regularly, and I could run a couple of miles without having to stop too often to catch my breath. Most importantly, I felt so much better about myself. I was in better shape than I had been in a lot of years and it felt good.
That was last summer. Since then I have regained a little of the weight (I am rather too fond of my food) and lost some of the fitness, but I continue to make an effort and the gym remains a lovely place to be. The cardio equipment is located by floor to ceiling windows that look out over a small golf practice course so, as I run or cycle or climb, I can watch the golfers. On a quiet day there may be a herd of deer grazing. There is a lake where all manner of birds feed and flirt and fight over territory. Perhaps a gym workout can never be described as relaxing but it does leave me feeling at peace. When I have time I will swim a mile after my gym workout and then rest my weary muscles in the sauna or jacuzzi. The latter looks out over a driving range where the deer sometimes congregate. It doesn’t seem like a very safe place to graze but thankfully I have yet to see any be hit by a golf ball.
My original Personal Trainer left just before Christmas so I am now working with a new one to get back on track. I know I can do it with the right motivation. I need to get back to eating a bit less, which is hard, but I am determined to feel good about myself again. The gym has a wide variety of members of all ages, shapes and sizes and they are generally a friendly bunch of people. I decided when I joined that I did not need the latest, technical workout clothes so I look more frumpy than sleek in my cotton t shirts and trackies. Perhaps if I ever manage to achieve my ‘ideal weight’ I will treat myself to some new gear and start to feel like a real gym bunny rather than a middle aged mum indulging herself. Not that I mind that really. A little bit of indulgence from time to time is no bad thing.