Back to gym at last


I just did the hard thing.  I went back to gym.

I have been telling myself to go for weeks.  Just do a little. Ten minutes on a recumbent bike.  Something. Anything. Just START.

And I didn’t.  Because…mostly anxiety.  Fear that what once was my happy place is no longer.  Just the physical act of walking through the doors, and talking to people was a terrifying thought.  I’m not good with people right now.

What do say to someone when they ask “How are you?”

That isn’t supposed to be a hard question. The answer is supposed to be “Great!  Feeling happy to be back!”

Instead I get that scared rabbit look, and mumble something about ‘Ok, thanks’ and try to scurry away.

So today I tried to pick the most vacant time. No classes running.  After the lunch hour, before the early work knock off people.  There’s a window, and there were only two other people in the gym. And they were complete strangers, on the other side of the very large room.

The gym owner was there, and he’s always friendly. Making conversation with him was ridiculously difficult.  I stuttered and blathered.  Oh well.  Whatever. No big deal.  He’s forgotten it happened by now, so I will too.

I restarted my membership, and that’s what matters.

The other reason I haven’t gone back is just flat out not wanting to.  I’ve had another distinct drop in functional ability, and being in the gym points that out very clearly.  My left side is almost completely numb post light workout. Why? I have no idea. But it is what it is.

I rode on the recumbent bike for ten minutes and I felt Ok.  But my right leg did most of the work. I have to focus on evening that up.  I tried to walk on the treadmill but I was too tired after ten on the bike.  I lost balance, even with a death grip on the hand rails.

And that was enough.  I won’t even be sore because I didn’t work any muscle group hard enough to be sore.  I barely worked up a sweat.  I was barely breathing heavily.

But it’s a start.

I went back to gym.

My favourite instructor was there and she chatted to me for a while.  We’re not close, but it was great to see her.  She’s a strong, positive person, and her smile lights up the room.  We talked about our kids, cos her boy is very much like Gamerboy and her parenting philosophy is very much like mine.  My anxiety melted away and I started to feel comfortable.  She helped.  I think she knew I could use it.  Five minutes of chat, a little kindness goes a long way.

I have to remember all the reasons I exercise – strong muscles and tendons to support the joints.  Improve my cardiovascular fitness, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Keep my lung function within the realms of normal.  Keep my weight within the realms of normal.   Keep my blood pressure lower.  Keep my bones strong with weight bearing exercise (work up to that).  Lower my blood cholesterol. Keep my blood sugar stable.  And, of course, combat anxiety and depression.

Exercise does all of that, and more.

But exercise is hard. Exercise hurts. Getting on that bike was hard.  Making those wheels go round was hard.  But after I warmed up a bit, my joints felt good.  Exercise thins the synovial fluid and lubricates the joints.  That reduces inflammation, at least during the exercise session.  So I do feel less pain doing light exercise.

It’s temporary, I’ve stiffened up again now.  But it’s good for my joints to move then, and to loosen them up.

I didn’t try to lift anything, I’m nowhere near ready for that.  I’m going to work up to 30 minutes on the recumbent and when I can do that, I will go back to my spin classes.  Depending how I manage, I’ll add some light weight work. And one of these days I’ll be back to doing the 30 minute cardio classes that I used to do.

I’ll have to go see a physio about the left side thing.  My left side fatigues out much more quickly, and the hurty numbness is odd and not fun. Do I push harder or rest?  The eternal question.  Professional advice required.

I’ll go back tomorrow. I’ll do 15 minutes on the recumbent.  And I’ll try walk the treadmill again.  I will build back up to where I was before some doctor told me I had pre-cancerous cells in my cervix and this whole nightmare began.

I will get stronger.  Prednisone will keep me upright and looking fine. I will remind myself that no one can tell how I’m feeling. That I look completely normal.  That they cannot see the pain, the numbness, the anxiety and everything else that is going on inside me when I’m at gym.

They aren’t even looking.

Everyone there has their own issues, their own problems.  They aren’t thinking about mine.

It will be my happy place again.  I will make it my happy place again. I will get back to my afternoon classes and I will laugh and enjoy being with people again.  And the panic will subside.

In time.



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