I woke up feeling absolutely crappy. The sun was shining through my windows and I am waking up in the loveliest room, comfortingly surrounded by good old-fashioned bricks. But that did nothing to chase away the grey clouds.
I knew just what I had to do.
Within minutes, I was trudging up Whitaker Place with my sneakers. My feet took me to the uni gym. And I was soon pounding on the treadmill, eyes on the screen (Black Ferns v Wallaroos, 67 – 3) and mind on the 10k I was aiming to achieve.
10k was unthinkable just one year ago. Before I came to New Zealand, I did not have a reputation for fitness. I was the one who sat on the side as I watched the ‘sporty ones’ play on the team. My family spent the weekends reading books at home.
‘Let’s go register ourselves for gym membership,’ my friend said to me when we first moved into Whitaker Hall. ‘It’s free any way,’ he said, sensing my imploring look. (Yup, residents at uni accommodation get it free.)
I warily stepped into the gym for the first time, walking a few steps behind out of uncertainty. Staring at the weight machines and people clad in sports attire (which I had none of), I felt intimidated. I didn’t feel that I could belong.
I almost left with this impression when a smiling gym instructor appeared in front of us. He could tell that we were new. After chatting with my friend for a bit, he turned to me and asked, ‘What do you do for fitness?’
I remember shrugging, ‘Oh… nothing much. I used to do a bit of Zumba.’
‘Oh we’ve got Zumba here!’ he showed us the fitness calendar displayed prominently on the wall. I felt my heart leap. I scrutinized the fitness calendar a little more closely and decided I would make it for the session on Friday held by a certain instructor called ‘Chris‘. (He turned out to be the most awesome instructor ever.)
That was how I got into the gym. (Thank you Francis. Though I’ve never shared this with you, you’ve simply been the reason why I felt comfortable enough to start going to the gym.)
The first month was a chore. I had to literally drag myself there. I must admit that my initial motivations for going to the gym had alot to do with body image and weight loss. I remember forcing myself to put in extra hours at the gym after a particularly sumptuous Easter. I then got interested in tramping and used the gym as a means to ‘fit up’ for my tramping trips.
But then I realized something. After going to the gym for half a year, I was becoming intrinsically motivated to gym. I would run when I felt sad, and when I got sick of my assignments, spin/ABT/zumba classes were a great breather. Knowing that I had been active that day made me feel good about myself.
Gym had become a vital aspect of my well-being, instead of just another yardstick I measured myself up against.
Because seriously, regardless of our body size, age, weight, height, existing fitness … there is something for us at the gym. As I look at the people filing past the gym entrance, I appreciated the diversity. Just this morning, I shared the gym with an old lady trying on the spin machine and a slightly overweight male giving the treadmill a go.
I consider myself fit now, but it took me a while before gaining the confidence to say that. My friend once asked me when I was lamenting that I am not fit enough, ‘So how fit do you want to be?’
I once used to think that fitness is about running marathons, lifting heavy weights and feeling ultra invincible. Fitness is, to me, now about the everyday encounters. If I can run for a bus without panting too much, or get up a steep slope while enjoying a conversation with my friend, I deserve to say that I am fit.
After reading this post, if you would like to take some baby steps towards #uni gym, feel free to check out my next post. I’ll be sharing in detail about each of the fitness classes and an easy way to start your journey. 🙂