Why do you workout?
This week, I was challenged to answer just that…
Globo gym. Monday night—prime time.
Treadmills spinning. Stairmasters churning. Women elliptic-cizing (their lives away). Pop hits pumping. And other happenings…
- A line of guys waiting for the bench presses and squat racks.
- People with headphones stuck in their ears and eyes glued to television screens with the evening news and E-Hollywood news feeds rolling.
- Bros checkin out their ‘guns’ in the mirror and girls measuring each other up to the other girls in the gym—inwardly comparing their arms, their legs, their stomachs to one another.
- High-fives and lots of socializing and small-talk going on (sometimes more talking than actual working out).
- One dude is on the mission to attain 5 girls’ numbers in one night.
- While another gal hopes to catch the attention of the dude across the way in her cute hot shorts.
- A peppy cheerleading voice from a fitness instructor booms over the microphone, calling out spin cycling cues or back-to-back bodyweight exercises.
A guy asks me, “What’s your split today?” Meaning…back, bis/tris, legs, chest—what body part am I working that day?
I tell him: “I am not working a body part necessarily. Just doing some lifts and a little bit of conditioning.” (squats, presses and a fun met-con entailing pull-ups, push-ups and weighted squats).
“Oh…well I am working my chest and back. It’s Monday of course,” he said.
Oh man…Toto, I am not in Kansas anymore.
A ‘gym friend’ and I begin to catch up.
“How’s your workout going?” I ask her as I take a break in between my squat sets.
“Oh, pretty good.”
“Cool, whatcha doin?”
“A little bit of everything! I just want to lose this…” she said, pointing to her thighs. “I just feel so…blah…like no matter what I do, this (pointing again) won’t go away.”
Said many a woman in the globo gym.
…And the beat goes on.
While the gym is certainly a melting pot of people with different training styles, programs, goals and reasons for being there (from “I just want to be able to eat my pizza and beer” to “I really want to lose about 10 pounds” to “It’s just like brushing my teeth-I love training”)…a vast majority are there with one thing on their minds:
How do I look?
Now, self-care and wanting to look ‘good’ is not a crime…but let’s fast forward to the next day, scene 2:
6 p.m., Tuesday night, CrossFit class.
(It’s honestly been awhile since I dropped in to a class setting. My schedule is so busy and unpredictable nowadays that I just squeeze my workouts in when I can. However, there is something special and fun about community—so I was happy to make an appearance this particular night).
Back to the scene…
It’s pretty darn warm outside—about 93-degrees in the Austin heat, but quite honestly, the crew within the gym could care less.
It actually feels good to sweat, smell sweat, work hard and have warm muscles to get moving.
The happenings look something like this…
- Some music is going on in the background, but there are no headphones in site.
- The gym space is wide and open, smattered with pull-up rigs, climbing ropes, squat racks, GHD machines, ski ergs, bumper plates, kettlebells and dumbbells along the outside.
- Barbells occasionally drop in the background.
- There’s a lot of motivational coaching going on, ‘You’ve got this!’ ‘You can do this!’ High-fives to be had all around!
- There is a similar energy, hustle bustle, to that at the globo gym the night before, but quite a different vibe.
- People connect, but on a little bit deeper level…how come? These people sweat together, alongside one another, day in and day out, fighting through similar workout challenges (WODS) and overcoming what, at times, seems like the “impossible.”
- Classes are fairly small—anywhere from 8-15 or so individuals—who come together on a regular basis, typically at the same time to improve upon their fitness from the day before.
I jump in to working out with a class.
2-Rep Max Hang-power snatch + snatch
Followed by a doozy of a WOD:
4 rounds for time:
400-meter run + 20 alternating dumbbell snatch (rounds 1, 3) OR 50 double-unders (rounds 2, 4)
An hour later, I am sweating a good sweat. I pushed myself a little bit harder than usual when I train by myself (a little friendly competition perhaps helps?), but I feel amazing.
Throughout the workout, there was ‘high-fives’ to be had, ‘good job Lauryn’s’ to be heard, and ‘you can do it’ encouragement going on.
After the workout, I got to know some of the guys and gals in the class. (I always love getting to know new people).
“What brought you to start training here?” I ask one girl.
“I really was just bored in my other routine in the gym—the treadmill or elliptical most days, and maybe a weight training routine I found in a magazine. A friend told me to check it out, and it was so different than anything I had tried before,” she told me.
“What goals have you accomplished since being here?” I ask another.
“It’s been really cool just to see how much stronger I’ve gotten. I originally wanted to lose some body fat and just get more in shape, which I have, but I care more about other things now than just what I look like, and the community piece is awesome.”
Preaching to the choir.
CrossFit or not, this is not an article or ‘case’ for CrossFit.
Rather it is meant to pose one question: What is your WHY behind why you train?
This mentality alone has completely, 100% shaped and changed my personal approach to exercise.
Even though my schedule is all over the map on a daily basis and sometimes my training happens at a globo gym, whereas other days, like yesterday, I have the opportunity to get outside the box, and train with a class, I do make time for healthy exercise as part of my self-care.
And…if there is one thing that has completely changed in my life from the days of that stupid old eating disorder to today…
It is that ‘globo gym mentality.’
No longer at war with the girl I see in the mirror…or the size or ‘fat’ on my thighs…or striving to contort or shape my body to be ‘bikini ready’…or making sure I ‘work first’ in order to eat anything that day…my ‘why’ today revolves around one thing: empowerment.
Discovering beauty in strength (and not the ‘fitspiration’ or ‘strong is the new skinny’ oxy-moron comment). But genuinely, knowing I am woman…watch me roar! (And I can put my carry on bag in the overhead bin myself, thankyou very much).
In essence: Know your why…and stop the war.
Life is wayyyyyyy to short to keep hating on the extra skin on your legs or stomach, or killing yourself in the gym in order to eat XYZ or because you ate XYZ.
Train for life…and then go out there and live it!