I’ve recently started going to the gym, but I don’t like it. It’s not any one particular thing — it’s just the whole package. The echoes, the grunts, the smells. Not knowing how the machines work. The pain. And don’t forget the scales, which might not be the most accurate machines ever invented. (I don’t know how I managed it, but recently I weighed .6 pounds more immediately after a workout than I did right before it.)
I used to have some pretty reasonable excuses for not going to the gym: “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too far to drive.” But I can’t use those excuses now that I’ve retired, qualified for a Silver Sneakers (free membership) card, and discovered a Planet Fitness five minutes from my house. And then I read this headline today:
“Mayo Clinic discovers high-intensity aerobic training can reverse aging processes in adults.”
After reading that good news, I thought I might try to hate going to the gym a little less.
According to the study, which was conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2017 and reported online here, the best method for reversing the aging process may be through interval training. (Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and I don’t know how scientifically rigorous the study was. But those two words, “reverse aging,” do have a certain appeal.)
“Interval training” is defined as about three to four minutes of hard exertion — for example, on a stationary bike — and then a rest period. Rinse and repeat. Yay! If they say “three to four minutes,” maybe that really means I can get away with “two to three minutes” as a newbie. And that rest period is appealing, too, since I greatly prefer to do awful things like boring gym exercises in small chunks, with plenty of time for heavy breathing and checking Instagram between the intervals. And I like that word “stationary,” too. I can do stationary quite well.
I have to admit that Planet Fitness is one of the least objectionable gyms I’ve been to. Their color scheme is deep purple, and they keep the lights turned down really low. That’s why I decided to keep going there, actually. It’s so dark that your cellulite looks just like interesting shadows. They even have a huge slogan emblazoned on the wall: “No Judgement.” (I always thought that “judgement” was spelled “judgment.” So whenever I see their sign, I feel judgmental about their spelling. But maybe it’s a British spelling. Does anyone out there know? Because I want to feel less judgmental while I’m in there. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” has special meaning when you’re on public display in your gym shorts.)
I went to the gym yesterday and was hard at work on the treadmill. (This was before I knew about the much easier and relaxing — I hope — interval training method.) I was listening to music through my headphones, a method that I’ve found works well to distract me from the burning in my lungs and the sweat dripping from my brow. About ten minutes into my workout, a song came on that got my adrenaline pumping, and my feet seemed to take on a life of their own. It was the aptly titled “Gonna Be Some Changes Made” by Bruce Hornsby. The tempo was perfect for my treadmill speed (about 2.5 miles per hour) and the music was energizing. It could be the lyrics that motivated me. (It’s hard to think about going home and lying on the couch with a bag of potato chips when you’re listening to him sing about all those changes he’s going to make.)
I think maybe I should download some other songs with the word “change” in the title, and bring them with me to the gym. For example:
Changes (David Bowie)
A Change Would Do You Good (Sheryl Crowe)
Waiting for the World to Change (John Mayer)
A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
Change My Way of Living (Allman Brothers)
Change the World (Eric Clapton)
Psychologist Carl Rogers had this to say about change:
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
OK, that does it. Starting today, I’m going to accept the fact that I dislike the gym. And then there are going to be some changes made … starting tomorrow.