Gerry Ellen Avery sees strength-training as an antidote to aging. She just has to dare herself to get back in the room with the weights.
Hello five-pounders. You used to be twenty pounders. Sometimes even thirty pounders, if I was feeling aggressive and energetic and mighty. I look at you and wonder where the time has gone. We used to be so close, meeting daily, exchanging words in our own language, tossing our heads back and forth in grunts and groans, rising up to the sky with the utmost of pain and pleasure, and parting ways with lots of exhaustion and exhilaration. It’s been awhile. I’m back for more, only this time, go easy on me.
Ah, the weight room during the colder months. I spent every day in the weight room, either teaching, training, exploring, and painfully walking away knowing that my boredom far outlasted any true benefits over the years. I just got plain sick of the weight room; the fake fluorescent lights, music pumping in loudly overhead with random awful music, people not wiping their nasty sweat off the benches or equipment, those human beings with horrific body odor, and a competitive nature that is always present. Whenever on vacation, I would venture in to the hotel weight room just to check it out, miserably standing on the old treadmill waiting for the damn thing to work, picking up some rusty old metal weight, and sometimes even being lucky enough to get to watch what I wanted to on the overhead T.V. That always made hotel weight rooms feel special. Unless I was at a five-star resort (which wasn’t often at all), hotel weight rooms were nothing more than oversized closets with a stuffy interior, maybe a stationary bike, and often a universal Bowflex conglomerate sitting in the middle of the room with multiple stations for all body parts.
The real weight room that I became accustomed to was the outdoors. Benches on sidewalks, parks with pull up bars, long stretches of trail for walking lunges and whatnot, pushups wherever my body wanted to drop, dips on concrete walls, squats anywhere, and simple hills to run up to keep my butt strong. That has been the routine for years, all season long. Now, the weather dipped below the normal comfy threshold, and my body is craving the weight room. It feels similar to off-season training when I used to run track. We always hit the weights and performed sports-specific exercises to make sure we were strong and prepared for track season. It felt so good to go from supersets to pyramids, to drop sets, and everything in between. I loved the weight room. But, I’ve ventured out into nature for so many years that the idea of stepping back into the confines of other peoples’ sweat, slamming weights, and too many T.V. distractions in the cardio room to mention, kind of humbles me.
I’m no spring chicken at all. I’m a woman who needs to keep my bone density in check and the flab from taking residence on my butt, thighs, and triceps. I just noticed this the other day. Call it vanity, but some of those little dimples didn’t used to be there when I was in my 20’s. It’s alarming! The outdoor workouts have caused me to hit a plateau of some sort. They became a bit too comfortable, and what my body needs is a good ol’ kick in the ass. Not the Cross Fit kind, either. There are ways to step into the weight room without ripping my shoulder out of place, or blowing my ACL joint because everyone is doing it. I’m old school. I can push myself in a well-stocked weight room and be so sore for days. I miss that. I went past the point of safe pain, simply because I was being yelled at to do so. I used to do the yelling to others; but in a nice way, I might add. And, I added the Fit Balls, the kettle bells, the bands, the balancing equipment, all of it. What my clients used to do in the weight room years ago was so much fun and pretty effective all the way around. I would even put myself through the same paces, just to see what all the fuss and complaining was about. But, we got results. That is the whole point of being in the weight room; tangible, solid results. It took time, patience, and barely any resting between sets to achieve this, but it happened.
Now, I’m daring myself to go back in there. I will sidestep the massive rack with the heavier metal, opt for those smaller colorful rubber dumbbells, chuckle to myself at the guy flexing his pecs in the mirror, sit on the indoor rowing machine for a spell and look outside versus watching CNN blaring above me, and know that my next bone density scan will fare much better. Plus, I may even see a striation in my quadriceps muscle. That would be nice.
photo by midiman