Sunday 28 April 2013

Why I go to the Gym

There's an article doing the rounds at the moment by pianist James Rhodes called "Find what you love and let it kill you". You can find the article here. In it Rhodes discusses how his love for playing the piano has enveloped his life and how it is the greatest thing in his life, which is great, but then he makes the following statement:

"What if, rather than paying £70 a month for a gym membership that delights in making you feel fat, guilty and a world away from the man your wife married you bought a few blank canvases and some paints and spent time each day painting your version of "I love you" until you realised that any woman worth keeping would jump you then and there just for that, despite your lack of a six-pack?"

I fell this is an unfair statement to make. Clearly Rhodes is not a fan of the gym and it sounds like he's never been inside a gym. I am only making this assumption because it is what I used to think of about the gym before I started going.

I began going to the gym as part of a 30 Day Challenge. Until that time I had NEVER set foot in a gym and the most active thing I had done of late was performing on stage with an improvised comedy group. However, I was "lucky" to be "blessed" with the ability to eat anything and not put on weight. So at 6'3" and weighing only 71kg, I never looked at fitness as my thing.

Initially, I felt a little inferior to the people going at my gym. This skinny tall guy who could barely bench press 20kg. But the more I persevered at it, the better I got. The gym actually became a place of positivity and well being for me. And it was one of the few places, at the moment where I am able to switch off everything else that is going on in my life and just focus on the present.

During my first few visits, I was self conscious but I noticed that no one even looks at you at the gym - or my gym anyway. Everyone is so focused on themselves to care about or judge you. Perfect example was when I was doing some bench presses and I had exerted myself so much that I couldn't push the bar back up on the hooks. I was stuck there with 30 kg resting on my chest. No one helped. Because no one was watching me. I eventually managed to lift if up and hide my sheer embarrassment.

Before I went to the gym, I had severe issues about my body - and to an extent, I still do and probably always will. But the progress I have made at the gym (I have already gained 2kg and now have a bicep!!!) has provided me with more confidence than I have had in my entire life. I am not going to the gym for anyone but myself.

I find the gym an inspirational place as I see men (and women) with great physiques that I aspire to have. My current goal is to gain 10kg of muscle. I go to the gym 6 days a week and have a weekly Personal Training session. My PT is supportive and listens to my needs and pushes me that extra bit. So I take offence to Rhodes' remark about how the gym makes you feel fat and guilty and implying that people only go for superficial reasons.

I have been going to the gym for ten weeks now and I am feeling great. If I become aesthetically more appealing to others in the process, then it's a win/win situation. Whilst I agree with Rhodes' sentiments I feel that his above statement is an insult to people who enjoy going to the gym, as if their passion is not as valid because it is not artistic like playing the piano or painting yet it requires just as much discipline and passion.

So find what you love and let it kill you - whatever it may be.

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