Gym Anxiety

I had been working out at home during nap time, which was fine but didn’t leave me a lot of time to work on anything else. I decided one night that I wanted to go to the gym during kiddo’s waking hours to give myself a little extra room in my day. I woke up determined to make it happen. I warned the three-year-old that we’d be leaving soon. I loaded up my bag with snacks and bribes and water bottles for two. I strapped my pregnant self into a sports bra and laced up my running shoes, and I ushered my first born into the car under protest.

Once at the gym, I led my son to the childcare room, essentially a giant playroom full of toys, but when I tried to leave he whimpered for hugs and comfort and begged me not to go. I squatted down and pointed out the fun dump trucks and dolls and blocks littering the room. That did the trick. He accepted one last side hug then ran off to crash, bang, boom some stuff together, and I made my way to the cardio room.

I could see the entrance as I traversed the lobby, but instead of making a right and heading up the half flight of stairs to the cardio room, I took a left and parked my squishy butt on the lobby couch and pulled out my phone. I told myself I was simply connecting to wifi in preparation for my workout. I needed to stream some music. I needed to stretch a little and this comfy couch provided the perfect pillowy platform to really get deep into my hip muscles.

I crossed my ankle over my knee like the number 4 and adjusted my seat to allow my growing belly to drop into the space I’d created between my legs. I leaned forward and sighed, making a real show of it in case anyone was looking and wondering why I was sitting on the couch instead of working out. I rummaged through my bag as I stretched and found my headphones, sighing something like oh good there they are for any onlookers. I took a deep breath and lifted my head: no one in the lobby but the front desk girl, who was engrossed in her own phone. No one cared what I was doing. I could sit on this couch for the full hour and a half I’d budgeted for gym time.

I snapped my head to the right to shoo the thought out of my head and took a peak at the cardio room. I saw several open treadmills and stationary bikes, plus plenty of ellipticals and stair-steppers already in use. The room also had weight machines, which seemed funny to me, because it was called the cardio room. From my vantage, it didn’t seem too busy, but it wasn’t completely empty, and I didn’t want to go. I wished someone would give me a hug and talk me through how much fun I would have playing with all those toys.

For a moment I envisioned getting up out of my seat and walking the 30 paces to enter the cardio room. Oh my God, what if the toe of my shoe clipped the edge of the first step as I reached those stairs, what if I fell and hit my head, or my belly? Or if that didn’t happen, what if I stood up and walked only to drop my water bottle, spilling it’s entire 50 oz onto the lobby floor? What if that happened just as a throng of people rushed out of the cardio room to make it back to work on time, and they fell, and I inconvenienced them all? What if someone who fell was really, really injured and sued me? What if I made it into the cardio room but I looked like a complete idiot walking on the treadmill because I am out of shape and pregnant and slow? What if I tried to use a machine but couldn’t figure out the buttons and had to move on to something else? How embarrassing!

“Do you have a question or anything?” asked the front desk girl, snapping me back to reality.

“Huh? Oh, no. I’m just…” I began.

“Oh, are you waiting for someone?” she asked.

“Um… yeah…. Yeah, I am.” I lied, “But she hasn’t text me back so I was thinking of just going in.”

“Oh, OK. Well, I can let them know where you are if you wanted to get started.” she offered. How kind.

“OK great, sure. Her name is Amanda.” I picked the most common name I could think of as I stood.

“Cool. Will you be in the cardio room or the weight room?” I didn’t even know there was a weight room.

“Treadmills,” I replied. She smiled and nodded, so I smiled too and turned to meet my fate. I walked through the lobby and up the stairs unscathed and entered the cardio room. I made my way to the row of treadmills, found a convenient spot for my bag, and started my warm up. I looked around for “Amanda” as I walked, and when I did, I saw another pregnant lady doing a slow and gentle work out.

Oh good, I thought, I’m not alone. I rubbed my belly and took a deep breath to release my anxiety.

I made it. Sure, I tortured myself a little to get here, but I made it.

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