I had an experience at the gym recently that I’m trying to hold on to as a teaching experience. Basically, things weren’t gong my way, but I turned things around, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. Here’s what went down:
I got a guest pass at a new (to me) gym a few weeks ago. I’m not really in the market to switch gyms, but it’s fun to try new facilities and switch things up a bit. The first time I went to the gym, I had a good, if not standard, workout. But I noticed the gym had a pool, which was very exciting news. I like swimming, but I’ve never had a gym with a pool, so I swim in public pools in various parks. I like the outdoor public pools I’ve discovered around town (including my favorite pool EVER), but the hours are crappy (they’re only open 3 hours each day on the weekend), so having an indoor pool available on an expanded schedule was very enticing. I made plans to bring my swimsuit next time I visited that gym, three days later.
Those three days couldn’t come fast enough. I started hyping up this workout in my head: “I can’t wait to get in the water. It’s been MONTHS since I went swimming. It’s gonna feel great, and I’m gonna feel great. Maybe I’ll start swimming every week! Maybe even EVERY DAY!”
Finally, the day arrived, and I went to the gym after work, changed into my swimsuit, grabbed my goggles, and headed to the pool deck. I was ready to go. And then, I started noticing things…
…there wasn’t an interval clock, which is key if you want to track your pace or monitor your rest periods. There weren’t kickboards or pull buoys available, either. Nor were there flags, which announce the location of the wall when you’re backstroking. They picked a crappy tile for the pool deck, which was slippery and dangerous.
But these were all minor inconveniences. They weren’t going to stop me from getting in a killer workout! I got in the pool, and started my warm-up.
…and the pool was a little warm for my liking. And the water was really cloudy and murky.
But I kept swimming. I was determined to not let the shortcomings of this pool undermine me.
Soon, though, I was miserable. It was, quite simply, a crappy pool, and I just didn’t want to continue swimming in it. My first reaction was heartbreak. I had spent three days preparing for this workout, psyching myself up for this workout, basking in the glories that this workout would bring, imagining the happiness that I’d feel in this moment. And here I was, feeling awful, and I wasn’t even done with my warm-up.
Part of me wanted to white-knuckle it through, to prove to myself that some dumb poorly designed and maintained pool wasn’t going to be my downfall, and I swam that way for a few lengths, seething on the inside.
And then I thought: FUCK IT. Fuck this piece-of-shit pool. So I got out. That’s it. My swim was over. It lasted maybe 15 minutes or so, and I swam 800 yards (32 lengths of the pool). Luckily for me, I had a set of gym clothes in my bag, so I dried off, changed into them, and finished my workout on the StairMaster. And I felt much better. And burned a ton of calories. And wore myself out. I slept well that night.
A few days have now passed, and while I’m not eager to go back to that pool anymore, I’m still letting the memories of it linger in my mind when I start my workouts. And that’s because the whole experience was a nice lesson in being flexible, which sometimes isn’t my strong suit. That workout wasn’t going my way, so I made a change and switched activities, resulting in increased happiness, and, I’m sure, a more productive workout.
I can be proud of that.
Keep it up, David!