“Ugh! How do you even live like that?!” is the most common response I get when someone finds out that I get up (or at least try) every weekday morning at 4am to go to the gym. I usually just laugh it off, but truly, I get up that early because it’s what I have to do to survive.
There are a few main reasons why I choose to key into Access Fitness between 4:30 and 5 most mornings. The first being that it is imperative to my mental health that I work out at least four times per week. If I do not get up and work out first thing it the morning, I will not go at all. I don’t know how those post-work people do it. By 3:30pm, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I just want to go home and lay in my bed. Secondly, who else is at the gym that early? I’ll tell you, it’s me, Keith the Hot Milk Man (he’s the guy that delivers the milk cartons to all the schools), Jumper, Ex-Marine, Inspirational Old Woman, and Lumberjack Boots. We have a nice little club of people, emphasis on little.
I can’t remember why or how I got seriously into lifting this past summer, but my goal was to get stronger. I would have started lifting sooner if I knew how much more it would give me than just nice arms.
Here is a list of things I have learned while accessing my fitness:
- You can’t work out for anyone but yourself. Growing up, I was always trying to find ways to connect and fit in with my family. In my twelve to seventeen-year-old mind, working out was the way to do it. I hated it and I could never get into running or basketball or lifting because I wasn’t doing it for myself. I love working out because I push myself. It’s my voice in my head telling me to add more wait or finish out my sets.
- It doesn’t matter what other people think. Yes, this is a cliché, but it is so important. I have struggled for so long with caring about what other people think of me. It consumed me for all of high school and most of college. It took a lot to make myself start lifting because I thought other, more experienced people would see me and think I was dumb because I was doing something wrong. I practiced going to the gym, doing my workout and consciously blocking out all the other people there.
- It’s all about progress. Damn, does it feel good to add more weight to a bar or are less sore after a workout that once killed you. I catch myself looking in the mirror and admiring how strong my arms look. Some days, I can’t lift as much as I did a few days before. That’s okay. Progress is slow, sometimes you take a step backward. It’s important to keep pushing forward.
- Being a flexible thinker is key. While flexible thinker is a term I picked up in my special ed classroom, the gym taught me how to be one. I am flexible about some things, but not when it comes to routines. You have to be a flexible thinker when someone is using the machine you want to use and you have to do something else for a while.
- Sometimes, you don’t want to do something, but you have to do it because it’s good for you. Most mornings, my alarm goes off at 4 and I consider turning it off and sleeping for three more hours. Other days when it seems nothing can go my way, the last thing I want to do is drive all the way across town just to to pick up heavy things and put them down. I push myself to do it anyway because I know it always makes me feel 100% better.