I have never considered myself an athlete. I have never felt athletic, though I competed in tumbling (and later trampoline) for ten years and a tennis player for the next ten after that. I saw athletes as people who love exercise and who get pumped up to compete on the field or the court or the ice, wherever. And that was definitely not me.
But now, as a recent college graduate who put on almost 15 pounds this winter, I have had to redefine my idea of an athlete. Every time I tried to go to the gym, I was surrounded by my athlete stereotype: muscle tees, short shorts, people drinking water out of gallon jugs. I started to dread going more than I already had because these people made me feel inferior and like I should have been able to balance all the things going on in my life and still have time to hit the gym regularly.
When the semester ended and my unlimited access to the campus gym disappeared since I wasn’t taking classes, I decided to try something new. We have a Planet Fitness a few miles off campus, and each commercial I’ve seen for them has made me feel like I could fit in there. As much negativity as PF gets online (especially on YouTube), it’s a great place for people like me, who haven’t had a regular workout plan in over a year and have gained self-confidence issues along with the weight. I liked the idea of a gym where working out in just a sports bra (or shirtless, for guys) isn’t allowed and where a bunch of regular people like me, who don’t necessarily consider themselves athletic, can get a workout in and still feel comfortable.
I’ve been at PF for three weeks now, and I have zero complaints. It’s obviously busier around prime times, especially in the one to two hours after work, but there is more than enough equipment and I’ve never been worried that I would not be able to use the equipment I needed. And more importantly, I’m gaining my confidence back. I still don’t look the way I did last summer or have the same stamina I did a few years ago, but I’m on my way back to that.
I’m not trying to become a gym buff or someone obsessed with crossfit - that’s not me, but it’s great for those who love it. I just want to be able to run a 5K comfortably again and have more muscle tone throughout my body, and going to PF is making me believe again. I’m finally believing that I’m more than what I weigh or what size jeans I wear, and that I do have it in me to get in shape, even when it seems like progress is so far out of reach.
So for all of you girls out there who are stressing about bikini bodies or the size of their clothes, just know that there is a place out there for all of us. Maybe it’s simply your elliptical at home, or the trail behind your house, or a regular gym. But you all have a reason to be confident and celebrate your body - just find somewhere that helps you rediscover that.