Back to Basics at the Gym

Woman strength trainingI did an upper body workout today for the first time in over a year. I’ve been doing a lot of leg workout things this week and decided it was time to change things up. I did as I planned and started on the recumbent bike, though that only lasted for 5 minutes. My knee could have done more but my foot was getting a cramp, so I climbed off and went in search of an elliptical machine that was on the end of a row so I could get on and off more easily than the last time I tried it.

I’ve never managed more than 5 minutes of the elliptical before, watching those pony-tailed perky girls workout on them for an hour at a time, which only made me feel like a giant slug. But then, I’d never actually tried using it when my legs were not already tired from doing a 30-45 minute workout on the treadmill. It makes a huge difference. I did 10 minutes and although it was starting to burn at the end, it was doable and I felt very buff and accomplished. Although I could have done some additional cardio, my next focus was on weights.

I went downstairs to the strength training section of the gym which was very empty, maybe because the students aren’t back yet to fill things up and/or because people are taking off early for the long weekend. I didn’t care; it was just nice not to have to fight crowds to get to equipment that I wasn’t completely sure I remembered how to use in the first place. It had been a long time.

But I spent 30 minutes working my upper body and the abductor/adductor muscles (those machines are the busiest on the floor – everyone wants to work those). I did presses and extensions and curls and raises, and I was careful (I think) not to use too much weight, especially after so long of not doing these. I found myself thinking of the T’ai Chi class and the way we were concentrating on listening to our bodies as they responded to different movements, and was more aware of listening to my muscles as they were working with the weights. Different workout but the same kind of body awareness.

It felt good to do this and I’m stronger than I thought I would be. I hope I can move tomorrow and think I’ll take the day off from the gym. Or not. If I go, I’ll be back to treadmill – I’m reading The Stolen Child and am only allowing myself to read while I’m working out and I want to know what happens, which is great motivation.