Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Gym: A Like Affair

I have long known that strength training, or resistance training is beneficial to folks with type 2 diabetes. It causes your muscles to better utilize insulin, increases glucose uptake, reduces the risk of heart disease and assists you in losing weight. Score!! However, I have also long known that I am not suitable material to become a gym rat. I just couldn’t see myself in the midst of sweaty, grunting, muscle-bound men or lithe, midriff-baring cuties. No thanks. I decided that walking on my treadmill would be sufficient for added exercise, thank you very much.  Lately though, I’ve been thinking that I ought to step things up a bit and see if I couldn’t do more. (Besides, my husband decided he might like to try it and… well there you have it.) Here’s the stupid part: our health insurance will pay for the membership through the Silver Sneakers program. I can go to the local gym for free and I’m not doing it? Stupid.

We joined. My son, who is also a member, came along on our first foray to show us all the machines and how to use them. (I had no desire to be “that woman” at the gym who was using a machine backwards.) I will admit that it was a bit daunting but I figured I could ooze into it and there were a few options that intrigued me, like an Ab Roller thingy. I’d seen those commercials on tv for ab equipment where all you had to do was spend a bunch of money and, viola, you had a six-pack! I had a chance to use one for free!

That first day we just tried out the different options. A couple of days later we went “for real” and worked out for about 45 minutes. Warning: I’m about to use some technical gym jargon. There is the “crunch-your-thighs-together-from-a-ridiculous-splits-position” machine, the “leg-press-sled-that-will-crush-you-even-without-added-weight” monster and the “reach-up-really-high-and-pull-yourself-up-hahahaha” contraption. And, of course, free weights, treadmills, elliptical hell machines, kettle balls, resistance bands… yadda, yadda. It’s not a bad little gym. I stress the “little” part. We are a small community and the gym reflects that. That makes it much less intimidating. Besides, we have seen some folks there who are our age or older so that felt good… until that 70ish b…. showed up and proceeded to bench press more than should be possible for someone her size. Impressive.

Here’s the most amazing part; I like it. I don’t dread going to the gym, in fact I kinda look forward to it! So totally weird. We have 24/7 access, although I doubt I will ever be rolling my abs at 3 AM, but I could! This feels right. This feels good. I may not be a gym rat, but maybe a gym white mouse.

I have some limitations and I’m trying very hard to not overdo things. My left shoulder is “slushy” (not quite frozen) and it gives me some pain so I can’t do a lot of the arm stuff. I’m dealing with what may be fibromyalgia so I need to be gentle and not tax myself too much or I might spend a day in the recliner later in the week. I am NOT worrying about how much weight is on each machine, but focusing more on the motion for now. The elliptical machine is amazingly difficult for me. I can’t go more than 5 minutes before my legs are rubber (could be related to fibro) so my goal is to make it to 5 minutes without stopping… and then 10… etc. I don’t care that there are others there, in fact I like having others around. I don’t compare myself to them and I don’t care what they might be thinking. I’m doing this, dammit, and I’m proud. Yay me!

Strength/resistance training is something you can do at home. You don’t have to have a gym membership. Purchasing a few dumbbells of varying weights, resistance bands and a stability ball. You can even use your own weight for free! Use Google or Youtube to find exercises you can do at home. I really recommend trying this, without spending too much money at first. I was amazingly surprised at how good it makes me feel. If I can do it, you can at least try it. I don't love the gym, but I definitely like it.