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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why Parents Should Go to the Gym

Do you go to the gym? I didn't used to. After a brief affair with it in college where I went every day, I quit it, to happily never look back. Until now.

I'm not particularly health conscious, and I'm not concerned with my weight, so I didn't really have a goal in mind when I signed up for a membership in January. In fact, I did it for my husband. He'd been complaining about our one-room condo association gym. When I dragged the girls there to get him a membership, I found out they had free childcare for people working out. I was sold.

But I still hated it. I don't like the machines, and I don't like repetitiveness, and the smells, and the crowding, and the looks. Just not a fan. Then a friend of mine introduced me to Body Combat.

And I've never looked back.

It's fun! There's music, and lots of people, and routines. There's rowdy camaraderie and all sorts of people mixed together. It is exactly what I need to get away from myself.

You see, I find my life very boring, and those who say, "hey, you need some time for you, to just be alone, to get out," have good intentions, but, for me, that doesn't work.

The minute I'm away from my kids I'm wondering about them, missing them, worrying over them from afar. I'm just not used to being without them. So my break always ended up being just as bad as if I'd stayed home.

For me, the gym solved that. First we used the childcare. With the girls so close and me being able to go check on them whenever I wanted, the transition was smoothed over for me. But the girls ended up being sick for three months straight. No matter what I did, they always picked up some illness or another. They needed a break.

Now I actually pay for a sitter to come for the hour I go. It's worth it. They stay well, they're getting accustomed to me leaving, and I'm no longer worrying about them.

Here's why: At Body Combat, I don't have time to think about it. I don't have time to chastise myself for being away from them or worry about them. I have to keep punching and kicking to the rhythm, and by the end of the hour, I'm exhausted, yet refreshed.

It's social because I'm with a group of similarly minded people, and yet it's not intimidating because I don't actually have to talk to them. So that this group of strangers and I have gotten to know each other without all that pesky conversation. The regulars see each other every week. We know our different personality types just based on how we react to instruction in class, whether we jump around more or stand more, whether we punch close or far. Honestly, I'd say that if I met one of these women on the street, I'd be able to have a full blown conversation with her because I would know her speaking rhythms and what type of broad personality she has. A dozen friends just waiting to be made, but no one forcing anyone to make them.

The added bonus is that, physically, it actually works. I expected no results at all. I haven't exercised in probably seven years. I can't run a mile without getting an asthma attack, and yet my endurance and strength has increased ten-fold with this class. My body looks better.

I look better and I feel better. It gets me out of my humdrum self. It forces me to just do something without thinking about me or my family for an hour. And they're not kidding about the endorphins. I just feel better afterward. I can't explain it.

If you hate the gym as much as I thought I did, maybe try something similar. Just get out for an hour. A whole hour, no cheating. Grab a coffee, or take a walk, or go on a drive. Take pictures, or go to a library and read. Anything that gets you out of the house and distracted from yourself is a good start.

We have to keep ourselves balanced because no one else can do it for us. And when we feel more whole, it's easier for us to be there for our kids in our full capacity.

The gym. It worked for me.

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  1. That is me and kickboxing! I love it! I love the people, I love the punching and the kicking and I love just having time for me. Now, I just need to kick this chest cold and get back to it. :)

  2. I am glad to see you inviting people to change their minds, workingout is great. Any kind of workout really helps to put your mind and body clear.

  3. This is me too-- the gym is my "me" time, and my husband and I do it together. we are able to use the free child care and i don't feel guilty about it because the boys are right there.



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