Now if you know me you know that getting me to go to a gym is a high order – because the word “gym” and I don’t go together usually. So the lovely Shaun from Talented Talkers sent me these lovely gift cards for free gym sessions at Fitness First gyms, and they’ve been sitting on my table forever. Then the whole divorce thing happened and all I was doing in my life was hiding under my bed crying and then I realized that the best way for me to recover is to stay busy. I needed a healthy distraction and what better way to witness the fitness than to actually use the Fitness First gift cards?!
Unfortunately it took me a few weeks after that to go. The truth is I hate gyms. I feel out of place and ugly among all the good looking people. What I did in the end was grab my gal pal, Corey, from Learning Patience, and got her to encourage me to go…and to work out like I meant it. Corey lives in the Clapham area, so we agreed to meet at the Clapham Fitness First location. We are both fairly new to London so neither of us realized there are TWO locations – the Lavender Hill and the Clapham Junction Station locations. So when we went to Lavender Hill in time for a spin class, we soon realized that the very loud and active dance class was certainly NOT spin. Apparently that class was at Clapham Junction Station location. Why there are two Fitness First locations within a two minute (actually two minute!!) walk from each other is beyond us both…but anyhoo….
So we were a bit disappointed by the lack of spin class but decided to have a go anyway (well…Corey was all for working out. I was sorta hoping she would say – ah well..ice cream time…). We chatted with the gentlemen at the desk for a bit and asked for a tour…but unfortunately they seemed to busy to leave their desk, so they just told us that we go upstairs for weights and the change rooms with steam rooms and showers and the classes and “down here for everything else”. We were a bit disappointed at the lack of customer service in our opinion but being the independent ladies we were we found our way. The women’s change rooms were quite large and had everything you would want in a change room – benches, cool lockers lockable with a little card thingee (so cool), showers, toilets, steam rooms, towel bins, hair drying stations etc etc….but I found it very old fashioned, a little run down and messy to be honest. I mean, it did the job but the towel bins were overflowing and the shower/toilet area did not encourage me to go do what I needed to do in there. I was hoping for more…but in the end I guess it is a space that is for very basic needs?
We first went into the weight rooms upstairs and found two little treadmills amidst the men (only?) on the floor doing their free weights. Then Corey took me through my paces. “Let’s get those little legs of yours moving”. Say wha??? I guess this was not going to be as easy as I had hoped. And even when I set my incline and a fairly good (at least I thought so) speed, Corey soon got in there and upped BOTH the incline and the speed. And when she had enough she had me on the weight machine for legs…then sit ups and jumping jacks (which I don’t think I’ve done since I was a much more fit teenager), PLANKING (Oh My GAWD) and stretching. And she timed us. And every time I collapsed, she made me get up again. She’s merciless I promise you…but would be an excellent personal trainer (hello new career idea!!).
Well. I didn’t realise how merciless till she was showing me how to do bicep curls etc and decided to make me do something called sumo squats. With weights. As in, with weights that I probably would never try to lift in a gym or otherwise. And then we did squats. And I survived. Sorta. I think I felt a little sick. I took a bathroom break (no really, I needed one, it wasn’t to go cry quietly in the toilet…it was to…you know…) and then met her downstairs where we did a bit more time on the treadmills and then she was showing me her cool ball balancing tricks. By this time I found a ball and just sat on it…and just in case Corey got the idea that I had given up (which I sort of had), I bounced gently…cause in my mind..THAT’S STILL MOVING!!!
While we were on our last treadmill
torture run/jog/walk, we noticed this all awesome lady jumping onto this really high foam block. And she kept jumping up on it and back down and we were mesmerized that 1) she could jump that high and 2) she could jump that high repeatedly and 3) that she wasn’t falling flat on her arse. To the point where later on, back in the change rooms, I congratulated her for being so awesome. And when she said “oh it’s no big deal, once you get into a rhythm…” to which I wanted to hold her down and force her to take the compliment. Cause you know what? Women in general don’t accept compliments well. That includes me. But this lady really deserved this compliment…cause she went directly from that to some rope whipping thing which I’ve never seen elsewhere but seen everywhere since.
Anyway. So when we were done, Corey, with her
crazy ever-enthusiastic self decided that we must try to jump on this block. Now Corey is quite tall (I’m not sure how tall but significantly taller than I) and one thing I noticed about this gym was that the ceilings were low. So as she was gearing up I swore she was going to burst a hole in the ceiling…and probably in her head too…but she just missed it even as she celebrated that she actually made it and was stable on the block! Did I tell you the block is high? I promise the block is high – probably a good 2 1/2 feet high…or more….that’s approximately 750mm for you metric people…or more…Corey made it and I have to say I admired her bravado…cause unlike me who was going “heeeeeelllll no” quietly over and over in my head, I could see her look at it and go “I can do this”. One day I promise to have that will power and positive outlook. I wasn’t going to do it for shit. But then she pointed out another block maybe one foot (300mm) lower and I agreed. And I thought I was going to fall over and be embarrassed by being the first person at the gym to be rushed to the emergency with broken bones caused by a foam block….but I didn’t. I made it. And apparently I made it by a significant amount. Then Corey took me to the high block…..but the way she took me through the gym and encouraged me, it didn’t look so scary anymore and I got up there the first time albeit I almost fell off cause I was still scared. But when I saw that I could jump that high without too much effort, I did it! And I’m so proud of myself that I REQUESTED a photo (all the rest were Corey laughing at me struggling and taking photos…especially the plank photo after which I collapsed ….).
So all in all, I did not mind the Fitness First gym because the people who were working out there were normal people and not pumped up men and teeny fit women in thongs. It’s a gym for the gym goer who just wants to work out and not have to pretend they are 100% fit. In Trinidad, we’d say, it’s not a “poser” gym. It did need a good clean up and a potential upgrade and the ceilings are extremely low from an architectural design point of view…but it was good enough that I’d give it another go…perhaps do a class there. But first, I’m going to try to catch that spinning class at the PROPER location….
Thanks to Corey for getting me to start being excited about working out again and for pushing me so hard at the gym (although I honestly am only just able to stand up straight and walk remotely normal four days later), and thanks to Fitness First and Talented Talkers for giving me this chance to Witness the Fitness and to practice some seriously healthy distraction from my recent troubles.
Have you witnessed the fitness recently?
I went back because I am apparently a glutton for punishment. This time I went to the Clapham Junction Station location – and was pleasantly surprised. It’s much newer and more modern, the atmosphere was a lot more positive and the change rooms were clean and gorgeous and the staff were friendly and helpful…..so will definitely be going back to that location.
While there I did a spin class for the first time with the lovely but hardcore Izabela. Man that woman is scary during the class but the sweetest lady after! And HOLY is spin a workout! I loved it because I can see that it would definitely give results sooner rather than later…the only thing is my sit bones and some private places seriously hurt after those classes! I googled – apparently I have to put up with that weird pain for 3 or 4 sessions minimum….and buy padded cycle shorts. What do you think? Should I keep going? The lazy part of me is screaming at me just to go to an normal aerobics class. I’m thinking that Zumba may be the next thing I try because as of this week I’ve wanted to dance like a crazy person when no one is watching….so why not do it with an audience?…but the spin is so hardcore I may try it again in the future…..and that gym is definitely one I would go back to.
Are you joining me? Let’s make a date!