The gym. A place where dreams are made, goals are set, bodies are ripped, sweat is dripped, and everyone has a story about why the heck they’re here instead of anywhere else in the world.
For most of my adult life I’ve been a member of a gym. My reasons for joining gyms – and even more so for staying – have changed throughout the years, though. And it’s only now as I sit and think about it, that I can see the reasons why I truly do love going to the gym (still) after all these years.
It all started when I was 14yrs old. Coming into my own as a young teenager, and getting over two years of intense illness that stripped me of the ability to even stand up, let alone play a sport or exercise, the gym was a place where I could get stronger. Where I could work on catching up. Playing sports better. Bonding with friends. The gym was a little bit of everything for me as I navigated the uncertain waters of growing up and finding myself in social situations.
Going to the gym each day helped me set firm foundations in making my self-confidence and self-belief priorities. Because I saw positive changes in myself with hard work, I learned very young to invest in my health & well-being. As a woman, this set the foundations for the rest of my journey.
In my early 20’s (pre-family), the gym became a place where I could get stronger physically and forge deeper friendships in a safe place. Gyms were harbors in strange cities and countries where I felt comfortable in my surroundings. No matter where I was in the world, I was surrounded by like-minded people, heavy weights. And, the more I lifted, the less the weight of the world seemed to weigh on my shoulders. I studied. I ate. I exercised. I hung out with friends. And then I repeated the cycle over and over again.
That is, until I met the love of my life. At 23yrs old I married my best friend. Knowing me like he did (and still does) my hubby realized that gym time was a sacred time for me. A time to recharge my batteries. Burn off margaritas. And find an inner-zen. A balance between fun times and health. After we married and our daughter was born, we packed up everything we owned, but it in a shipping container and moved to the Southern Hemisphere.
For a California girl, packing up house, home, baby, and husband and heading to New Zealand was a bit mind-bending. As a young wife and mother, the gym was becoming less about looks and strength and more about “me time”. I yearned for balance and confidence. For silence, a wandering mind, and an hour to get lost in a good book. Once again, the gym became my savior.
Into my 30’s now, and the gym has become something different again. For me, the gym is about saving time and money (by not having to buy new clothes!), and less about looks. All of the cliches about being comfortable in my own skin and enjoying working out just for the sake of it – they’re all true as you age. Right now the gym is a mish-mash of meanings for me. Borrowed emotions from my teenage years, the growth of my 20’s and now finding a happiness beyond looks as a comfortably settled woman in her 30’s.
So, yep. I think I’ll stop typing now, put on my running shoes, and head for the gym. To, ya know, find my zen.