I have always enjoyed exercising at athletic clubs. I don't mind working out at home. But, I prefer being in a gym if given the choice. I don't feel near as motivated when I am working out alone. I like being surrounded by fit people. I know a lot of people who have told me that they don't like working out in clubs. That they feel intimidated by the healthy people. That they feel embarassed by their weight, or even their lack of physical ability. I feel tinges of these emotions at times. But, I have always found those healthy people far more motivating than prohibiting. Those people inspire me to work harder and longer. They are confirmation that all of this hard work pays off in the end. I like hanging with the healthy people.
But, there is a downside to being surrounded by fit people. That motivation some times morphs in to stupidity. There is a certain temptation to lift more weight than one should. To go a little faster on the treadmill. To swim a little harder. It was difficult when I first started lifting weights and I started with so few plates. I wanted to ease in to it. But, I also wanted to explain this to all of the healthy people so they knew why there was so little weight over that pin. A part of me even wanted to move the pin down a few plates when I was finished so the next person on the machine wasn't aware of how wimpy I was.
This is exactly the emotions that all of those people who avoid the club are referring to. These are the same thoughts that keep people from getting to the gym. Luckily, I was able to ignore all of these thoughts those first few days. And, it didn't take long to realize how silly those thoughts are. Most of these people aren't paying any attention to me or the weight I am lifting. The few people who do pay attention are probably simply thinking that it's great to see another individual in the gym trying to make a change.
This is why I set goals for myself when I exercise. I track times, miles, weight, laps because these are my progress benchmarks. These give me goals to shoot for every time I step in to the club. When I started swimming, that first morning I swam 7.5 laps in 30 minutes... please don't laugh. As I said before, my swimming skills leave a lot to be desired. My right leg still doesn't provide much kick because of my bad knee. My breast stroke looks like a frog with only one good leg. I swim half a lap freestyle and then the return half using my awkward looking breast stroke. My head never goes under water... though I vow to fix that. That first day I took a break every 1 to 2 laps. I breathed through my mouth and struggled at that. It is amazing how much I love the water considering how much I really suck when I am in it! But, I don't care what I look like. All I know is that I feel good when I get in. I feel really good when I am swimming. And, I feel great when I get out of the pool. I try to ignore Bryan Kelsen in the next lane swimming up and down that pool like a dolphin. I ignore the older ladies that swim circles around me. My only concern is trying to beat my previous highs. Trying to swim more laps. Trying to breathe better. Trying to kick better.
That first week on the treadmill I averaged 2.40 miles per night. This last week, I had upped that to 3.95 miles per night and I have gone as long as 5 miles! Today I swam 13.5 laps. I only took three mini-breaks. And, I am now breathing through my nose the entire time and struggling less to get air in to my lungs. I have doubled the weight I am lifting on most of the machines. I am not worried about the fit people who run on the treadmill like animals. I am not worried about the swimmers with their perfect form and effortless pace. I don't care about the guys who put up more weight than I could ever imagine. All I am worried about is Anthony Marinucci getting stronger, faster, more buoyant, and much more fit. I am not trying to outdo those fit people. I am only trying to outdo myself. Here's to never being embarassed by the fit people and to always trying to outdo yourself...