|Photo by Heidi Hoffman|
I finally got back to the gym this past Sunday and it felt amazing. My workout consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes on the weight machines for arms and shoulders. I want to start back slowly so I was getting an idea of where I’m starting from and seeing how much weight I can handle at the moment. The thought finally occurred to me to start keeping a journal so I can track my progress as a way of motivating myself to continue to go and grow so I pulled up the Notes application on my Droid and took notes of what exercise machines I worked, how much weight on each set and how many reps on those sets. As I left the gym I noticed how grounded I felt.
Going to the gym, for me, is about more than exercising. It’s about taking that hour to completely focus on myself and my body. It’s like sitting in Zen meditation for an hour completely focused on your body, how it feels, where it hurts, if it’s relaxed or tense, where the stress is hiding and in which muscles, etc. All other thoughts and worries are put on hold and just being becomes the focus of the mind. When I sit down at a machine or on a bench with a free weight I focus on the muscle I’m about to work. Before I begin the exercise I take a couple of deep breaths and sort of breathe into that muscle then as I’m doing the exercise my focus is on that muscle completely. I’ll even slow the exercise down to feel the muscle tighten and strain. Doing this gives me a chance to recognize the complexity of this carbon based life suit I’m walking around in and to connect with it on a deeper level. I guess you could say I commune with it during my workouts sending it messages to grow and thrive.
My goal at the gym is to physically and mentally get bigger and stronger. It’s not that I don’t like the way I look. It’s more about loving myself and wanting to improve upon what I already have. Getting my physical self to match my mental self, if that makes sense. Right now they don’t quite match. I see myself as a more muscular person in my head and sometimes when I see the image reflected back to me in the mirror I’m surprised because I’m much smaller in real life.
Going after this goal has had its moments of frustration where it seemed like no matter what I did I just wasn’t getting the results I really wanted. Notice I said ‘seemed like no matter what I did’, because I didn’t completely embrace the discipline needed to get to where I really want to be. I didn’t follow a specific diet nor did I follow a specific workout plan. I basically ate as much protein as I possibly could and was inconsistent in my workouts. I hadn’t ever kept a journal of them, either. Although, while playing football I did follow a specific regimen designed for Linemen. Even so, I still wasn’t getting big. Then one day I felt myself give up and chalked it up to the fact that I just didn’t have that sort of build nor did I have enough testosterone in my body to look the way I wished to look. Shortly after that I was at the gym with my football team when a woman walked in and completely threw out those excuses for me. She was a professional bodybuilder and she was big and ripped. After seeing her I knew that being a woman couldn’t stop me from being bigger. I really could get bigger and stronger the way I had pictured myself in my head.
Thankfully, with my financial affairs in better shape these days now that I’m working a full-time job again, I was able to reactivate my gym membership and have again set my goal of getting bigger and stronger physically and mentally while enjoying the side effect of being grounding in my body. The next step is to find a workout program and a nutritional program that will help me get there and stay there. A new way of eating is even welcome, as opposed to a ‘diet’. I’m not a big fan of ‘diets’ and don’t fully understand them. I believe more in the idea of a new way of eating and looking at food as a way to love and nurture myself.
It all comes back to self love for me. Something I’m trying to practice more of these days since I’ve spent so much time giving all of my love and attention to others. It’s time to put myself up on that pedestal give that love to me. It’s time to nurture my relationship with myself.
On that note, do any of you out there in internet land have a strength training program you work with? The thought occurred to me as I was driving home from the gym that there are probably others out there looking for the same thing or who have found it and are already working it so perhaps we can share it with each other and encourage each other to keep working at it. Maybe we could start some sort of butch workout circle? I was also thinking about a butch workout group since we tend to have so many phobias about the gym. Maybe if we went in packs we could help each other out with those issues while being more visible to the gym world. What are your thoughts on this?
Ideally, it would be awesome to open up a queer gym where there are no issues of gender and where people could use whichever locker room they felt most comfortable in and everyone would be welcome. Gay, lesbian, trans, queer, genderfucks, cis….everyone. If I could, I would. In a heartbeat.