It’s always hard to be the new girl. It’s really hard to be the new girl at the gym.
This month I began what I would consider a big shift in my workout plan in order to begin training for my first sprint triathlon (which is going to be wayyyy harder than I thought, but more on that later.) Regardless of how long you’ve been working out, changing locations makes everything different.
I was perfectly happy, although maybe a little beat up, going to OrangeTheory 4-5 times a week. My classmates have become my friends, and regardless of how bad the workouts suck sometimes, it was comfortable. Comfort + workouts are never a great place to be if we are going to be honest.
At first, I was excited for the change. To give my body the break it was desperately needing from grueling workouts. Then, this week it happened. Time to actually DO it. I hit up the pool on Monday. I felt awkward putting on a swim cap. It came off my head like seven times before I left the locker room. My goggles were too loose, then too tight. I had to stop after the first four laps to get a drink and catch my breath. It became very obvious, very quickly that I was going to have to work really hard for this year’s goal.
Then today, I planned for my first cycling class since literally 2014. I have new (used) clip in shoes, and new (used) padded shorts that feel like diaper, and I was nervous about being able to adjust my bike. I left my house in what felt like plenty of time, but caught every light, a funeral, and every pokey old bitty on the way. I was getting sweaty before I even got there.
I knew I was going to be cutting it close, and by the time I arrived and as I was putting on my shoes outside the door I could hear the music start. In my head, I was just going to slide down the side wall and grab a bike in the back and it didn’t matter if it took me a second to clip into the pedals, I was there and that was half the battle.
I opened the door and the whole room was set-up different than I remembered. As it was all happening, I realized the last cycling class I took was NOT in this room, and it was NOT at this place. The last place I went was a dedicated room of bikes already set up. Here, you have to grab your own bike and set it up. God knows I wasn’t prepared for that. I felt like I was walking in circles and everything was spinning. The instructor asked “if she could help me” and I muttered out something like “… I haven’t been to a class in a while…” and slinked out the door as she told me to come 10 minutes early next time.
I quickly hid in the bathroom, and decided since I was already there, I would just swim. While swimming, you can only really be in your thoughts while water is gushing around you, which is where this story began to feel the need to be told.
First, it was my fault I was late. Trust me, I learned my lesson. (If I’m running late, I’m just going to grab a bike upstairs from here on out…) However, it NEVER hurts to be the extra nice person. I’m not here to toot my own horn, but I was often next to a new person at Orange Theory because of my location preference of treadmill and rower. And everyone knows being at Orange Theory is SO confusing at first. I’ve directed people to their stations, cleaned weights they’ve left behind, and high-fived perfect strangers after class. Because it’s HARD. It’s hard to try something new. It’s hard to be somewhere where you feel like the only one not knowing what’s going on, and it’s for sure the hardest dang hour of your day.
Second, I’m not telling this story so you can feel sad for me and my embarrassing first class (attempt) back. I’m telling you because if you ARE a regular to a class, then you KNOW when someone is new. If they look lost, help them. And not just by saying they should have come earlier. It would have taken maybe 2 minutes for someone to point me towards the bike closet today, or even help me drag one out. On the other hand, if you’re the new person, just know it happens to all of us. The nerves. The wanting to back out. Being new sucks.
Lastly, I’m NOT the kind of person who is going to quit because of one bad experience, but I feel like IF I had just decided to start working out, and trying to better myself, that this really could have crushed my newbie spirit. And could totally be the reason there’s 17,000 people that are members to Planet Fitness in Huntsville, but yet only a few hundred attending a day. If we truly want to see a change in the health in this country, then we should be more than willing to spend the little bit of extra time to help someone who is new. You don’t know why they are late either (so stop with the judging eyes), but at least they are there.
Even after all that embarrassment, I was proud that, even though I didn’t have a towel, I stayed to swim anyways. And, I apologize for the extra paper towels I had to use to dry off in the bathroom. I’ll be headed back next week hopefully with a better report because as Chumbawumba put it “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”
And if you want to come with me, I promise I’ll drag your bike out for you. <3