Switching Gyms and Leaving my Comfort Zone

“The reason for our suffering is our resistance to the changes in life.”
~ Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

For those of you who know me in real life, you probably know that I don’t necessarily respond well to change – particularly when it comes to routines upon which I have come to rely. However, I am quite aware of how certain types of conflict can be extremely healthy, as conflict has the potential to spur progress. I consider conflict to be a wide range of things, including a disconnect with what you may find comfortable. Change is conflict.

This week, my small mom-and-pop gym closed down. Now, there were a lot of things I did not like about this gym. The staff basically gave up on the place – floors remained unswept and essential items not stocked. Also, this gym had an iterative identity problem, demonstrated by the owner’s constant moving of things around, which was a major source of aggravation for me. On the rare occasion when I did need something, staff members were hard to find because the owner removed the front desk/station. Oh, and the owner kept the kettle bells locked up for the paid group exercise sessions. God, that pissed me off something fierce.

All this being said, I had one area where I worked out, it was low-priced, and I was for the most part content. But I was not seeing results.

When I was told the gym was closing, I felt that same internal panic mode activate – now what?!? Not having a gym was certainly not an option, as I had recently (and publicly) committed to returning to peak fitness and health. But I definitely did not want to get stuck going to a big-box, warehouse-style gym, surely packed with judgmental, hard-bodied gym-rats. With those obsessive-compulsive personality traits. Those Type A’s. The last time I did a trial membership at a large gym, I hated it – I felt like a jelly-legged slob being silently assessed by these people with superior physiques. And it shut me down. Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to gym-shopping.

Irony: I am now a member of a big-box, warehouse gym, 24-Hour Fitness, a national fitness chain. It’s a “Super Sport” facility, which translates into bigger.than.shit. It’s massive, and is apparently one of the busiest gyms company-wide.

Picture of Gym

My visit to this monolith of a gym taught me something crucial: There wasn’t a problem with that large gym long ago, the problem was me. The problem was my projection of self-doubt and insecurity onto others – strangers that I didn’t know and whose minds I certainly couldn’t read (I’m not Sookie Stackhouse). I also learned something awesome about myself: I’m not that insecure person anymore. Throughout this complicated journey of having a chronic illness, I have developed my own sense of self and a unique sense of self-protection that comes with having to prioritize your health over pretty much everything else. No matter what someone has to say or think about me, at the end of the day, I have to take care of myself in a very tangible way. And somehow that crossed over to my perception of self.

Change = Progression

This change, this conflict, is just what I needed. I look forward to discovering what my new gym has to offer me on my journey back to peak fitness. I now see my new community of hard-bodies and I am inspired. I admire the hard work they’ve put into optimizing their health and wellness. And I am prepared to follow suit.

Photo credit: Urban Spoon