Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taking back power.

I've been a member at a small local fitness club for about a year now. I mainly joined because I needed a reliable treadmill on days when it was too icy to safely run outdoors. (It helps that I was paying a mere $14 a month to be a member.) It was usually quiet when I went in the mornings; not too crowded, a nice assortment of people peppered across the weight room and cardio room. In short, the club was not close to my house, but it was cheap and I liked it fine.

The only problem I had was when I took up swimming. When I joined this club, I was well-aware that their "pool" was the size of a postage stamp. In fact, I once asked the front desk how many yards it was, and she looked at me like I was crazy, told me she had no idea, and informed me that no one had ever asked before. Huh. But when first started the swimming thing, it was nearly June. Plenty of great weather to get into a lake and swim, and since I was doing the Trizelle program through Gazelle (, I had opportunities to swim both indoors and outdoors with them. Plus, I didn't even like swimming when I started, so the size of the club's pool was really a non-issue.

As the weather started turning colder, I started picking up a couple of weekly swims at a local middle school. That was okay; the pool was rarely filled to capacity, but it was damn early, the pool was freezing, and it was one of the most expensive lap swims in town. Then, one frosty morning a few weeks ago, I showed up to the middle school and found a completely abandoned parking lot (which isn't to say this is the first time this has happened; it wasn't). The sign on the double doors simply read: POOL CLOSED. Hmm. Well, this seems a little different than the usual "No lap swim these dates" signs that usually adorn the doors on a break. With a little asking around, I discovered that the pool was closed indefinitely because of whatever problems they were having with it. Disappointing.

So, what's a girl to do? Here I am:

* frustrated that my knee has been bothering me, making my runs less than successful.
* frustrated that the pool I've been relying on is closed until further notice.
* frustrated that I'm not getting my usual amount of exercise.

Finally, I decided it was time to move on from my little gym on the west side. I still needed a reliable treadmill or indoor track for icy days. I needed a reliable pool. I needed some classes to break up the monotony of "training". And I needed it to not be over-priced.

In the end, I decided that the $14 a month I was paying for the gym, and the $40 I was paying for 10 swims at the middle school, would be better spent in a YMCA membership. So, that's where I put my money. In the last couple of weeks, I have gotten in loads of swimming, some running, some Zumba, some weight/core work, some elliptical and rowing.... lots to do there. To be honest, I've felt better in the last few weeks than I have felt in quite some time. The knee is still rehabilitating (it feels like it's mending), but at least I have options to keep my cardio up while it does so.

Ruts are funny. Sometimes you don't even realize you're immersed in one until you start to break out of it. Or you deny you're in one, like you don't want to hurt your gym or your chosen sport's feelings. It's important not to give up. Generally, a rut just means you need a new way to feel good about yourself. It's not being unkind to the sport I've religiously thrown myself into for the last four years to branch out. In fact, taking a couple of weeks off of running in favor of other activities has made the running much more enjoyable when I've been able to do it!

Last week, I managed to swim just shy of a mile in the pool. This is a feat that I didn't think was possible a year ago. It left me feeling proud. Invigorated. Empowered. That power carried, and helped make my Saturday run feel better than it has in weeks, even months.

To that I say: Do what makes you feel powerful. Whatever that may be today.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." ~ Muhammad Ali

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