Work It Out

I'd never wanted to join a gym. Why would I? I can lift free weights at home and I can't lift more than 20 pounds anyway so no need to go somewhere else to do it. But I've had these pains that started in my shoulders and have worked their way around my neck and back for over a year now. I've been to acupuncture, pilates and the physical therapist. I've done stretches, iced it and had ribs pushed back into place and while all have helped transform what was searing pain into dull, occasional pain, it still hurts and I get new pains all the time. So when my physical therapist told me that the reason I keep getting injured every time I do anything that requires muscles is because I am weak. I'm weak as a kitten and she said I need to join a gym.

It's not that I've avoided the gym because I don't like working out. Mostly it's because I'm scared of new things and of looking like I don't know what I'm doing, especially in front of other people. The gym has other people in it! But screw being scared, or rather, screw letting fear get in the way of me getting totally buff.

I hired a personal trainer for a few sessions so that I could learn what I'm doing and get a plan together. He's actually a physical therapist too, which is why I choose him. So, I met him at my gym and he did something that my Kaiser therapist had not done. He looked at my back. Thoroughly. We talked about my scoliosis, which I knew I had. He wanted to know whether it was structural so he did something the doctor who first diagnosed the scoliosis at fourteen years old did not. He measured me. Turns out, my right leg is shorter than my left by a quarter of an inch and everything has desperately been trying to compensate for the leg's glaring inadequacies. "Somebody should have caught this a long time ago," he said. Indeed. But he claims I can be fixed. Huzzah.

We started with the basics. He told me I need to do cardio four times a week along with some other exercises to strengthen my back and some yoga stretches to strengthen my inner hippie. But he forgot to show me how the elliptical machine works. When I went back to the gym alone, I did my yoga poses and my dead-lifts then considered skipping the elliptical because of the aforementioned fear of not being perfect at everything right away. But then, when I looked over at the cardio section there was this woman, probably in her late fifties on one of the machines, pumping her legs like crazy while completely hunched over the front of the machine in a pose that is certainly causing her back to twist in completely unhealthy ways. I looked and looked at her then went to the front desk and said, "hey, I'm new. Can you show me how this machine works?"

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