I started dabbling in light exercise two years ago after a friend told me that going to the gym would help with my anxiety. But to be honest, I'm still pretty anxious. If anything, going to the gym has made it so that now I'm in both emotional and physical pain.
I've gone to the gym for a brief workout once or twice per week ever since, but I've never been dedicated or disciplined enough to see any real results. So this year, I resolved to buckle down and hit the gym a bit more often.
Now, I know that there are many avid gym goers who loath the annual migration of new years resolutioners. I get it. You've spent years pumping iron under the unflattering glow of fluorescent lights and have grown used to the pungent stench of chlorine and ball sweat. You've patiently put up with the asshole who plays mumble rap on speakerphone because he thinks he's too good for headphones. You've proven yourself as someone who's fully dedicated to physical health, and now you have to wait in line while some newbie fumbles with the free weights.
But as a fitness dabbler, I welcome the change of pace. After all, the gym is never a more welcoming, comfortable place than when it's filled with a bunch of people who, like me, have absolutely no idea what the fuck they're doing.
Eleven months out of the year, I do my best to get to the gym right around noon. By then, the die-hard morning cardio crew has wrapped up their workout and the hardcore weightlifters have yet to arrive. All that's left is a slew of retirees lounging in the saunas and buying time before their discounted seniors dinner at Marie Callender's. So from noon until 2 pm, I'm the strongest man in a gym filled with nothing but supportive nanas, the fresh scent of Mentholatum, and the occasional hellish glimpse of an old man's scrotum peeking out from his shorts.
But in January, I go to the gym in the early evening alongside the other young people. As always, there are bound to be a few frightening fitness pros working out at that time of day, like the crossfit fanatic who's obsessed with kicking the shit out of unreasonably sized tires, the girl who only ever shows up to do butt workouts in shorts that are already specifically designed to make her butt look good, and that guys who grunts a lot before purposefully dropping the weights while standing in front of a sign that clearly says "DO NOT DROP THE WEIGHTS." But the start of a new year means that, in addition to all of the regulars, the gym is filled with a flood of new members and a fresh sense of camaraderie.
I first started going to the gym in the fall, and walking into the gym alone and unfit in the middle of October can be intimidating. I remember looking around and realizing that, even though I was already self-conscious about my physique, I felt even worse now that I was by far the least fit person in an entire building. Whenever a new year starts, though, the gym is bursting at the seams with unfit people, and we all ban together to silently encourage each other. After all, we're unfit! We deserve the gym as much, if not more than fit people. As far as I'm concerned, the healthy can have their gym back in February; January is for the rest of us.
Though, I must admit that the annual sense of unfit unity does occasionally go to my head and cause me to fly a little too close to the sun.
Yesterday, I did a leg day at the gym for the first time. And you know what? I totally get why people skip that shit, because now I'm out in these streets walking around like a young Forrest Gump. And just two days ago, some dude at the gym saved me from strangling myself with a barbell. We're not even a month into 2018, and I already owe my life to a stranger in a "No Whey Bro" muscle tee.
Despite my many fitness pratfalls, there is one workout that I'm beginning to master: The dumbbell shrug. And the dumbbell shrug is exactly what it sounds like. You hold weights in each hand, and then you shrug.
Usually, whenever I'm lifting weights at the gym I spend a good 90% of the time staring in the mirror and thinking one of three things:
1. Am I doing this right?
2. I'm pretty sure I'm not doing this right.
3. I wish I were dead.
But I get hyped whenever I'm doing a dumbbell shrug. I stand in front of the mirror with fifty pounds in each hand, scrunch my face into a motivated expression, look at myself in the mirror and shout out loud, "OH HELL YEAH!!! I'M 'BOUT TO BE SO GOOD AT NOT KNOWING STUFF!!!"
I know that it will take a lot of focus and effort to lose weight and that no one can expect to see tremendous results within their first month of working out. Nonetheless, my new fitness goal for 2018 is to have someone asks me a question I don't know the answer to. That way, I can flex on 'em with how good at shrugging I've become.