March 3, 2014


I went to the gym on campus for the first time today. I called earlier, asking if I needed to sign up and what the cost was. Remarkably, it's free - the gym at the school I taught at in Chicago cost $30something a month for faculty and staff. So, once I was done teaching, I changed into gym clothes and headed over.

I did an hour on the elliptical. It felt really good - like a serious, hard workout. I didn't want to finish it - I wanted to quit even just a few minutes in. But I knew Matt wouldn't be picking me up until 4:30, so it was either keep working out or just sit around and wait in workout clothes. As the time went by, I stopped wanting to quit and started really enjoying it.

Something about this workout felt different. I've been going to the little gym in the apartment complex for a little while, and that's better than nothing, but something about this gym felt different, more motivating, just an overall better experience.

I think that maybe some of it has to do with the size of the facility. The gym on campus is an actual gym, and at 3 p.m., there are a ton of people there. The gym at our apartment complex only has a few machines, and I've very rarely seen anyone else in there while I was there.

It reminds me of when I was first losing weight, and how I would walk races. Even though I couldn't run them, I was inspired just being surrounded by people who could. These were active people, people whose interests aligned with mine. They could do what I wanted to be able to do myself, and I wasn't depressed or upset by the fact that I wasn't at their level of ability. I didn't see it as me not being at that level - just not at that level yet.

At the gym today, I felt that power again, that inspiration. These are people who want to be healthy. I draw power from surrounding myself with people who have common goals.

Another reason why this workout felt different? Who some of those active people are. They're students, faculty, and staff - specifically my students and my colleagues. I saw two, maybe three, of my students today (with my glasses off, it's hard to tell!). That, to me, is like insurance. They saw me there today, and they'll see me tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. If I stop going, they might call me out on it, and I do not want to let that happen. This is, in a way, a means of keeping myself accountable.

I'm already looking forward to going back tomorrow. I may bring my running shoes and pick up Couch to 5K where I left off (week 2, day 3) since they have treadmills but also, a track. The gym's indoor track was where I started Couch to 5K the first time, too.