Entry is hard.
But reentry is the devil. Because at this point, you know that it’s going to take all of your God-given patience and hard-work and dedication, to show up and make it through.
I’m talking about the gym. Obviously.
When you first sign up for the gym, you’re filled with all of the butterfly feelings that this Earth and your fantasizing and hopeful brain can offer.
You make a plan. A schedule. You have a mental timetable for approximately how long it’s going to take you to resemble Beyoncé. You buy the green things and you eat them, cheerfully.
And then life happens. And a baby happens. And another baby happens.
And you’re stuck on the couch with nausea that not even a football field of organic ginger could combat. And despite your plans of participating in a Whole 30-ish pregnancy diet, you end up living off microwaved baked potatoes for a month because you’d like to not die of starvation and also not throw up anymore.
Then somehow you wake up one day with a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old and you decide it’s time. It’s time for reentry.
But this time around, you are not filled with butterfly feelings because you know how pilates actually makes you feel. You know that bootcamp class will not make you feel like Rhonda Rousey, but more like a Sumo Wrestler playing jumprope. You will buy the green things and you will feel full with all of the sustenance that they offer—for about 32 minutes.
But despite your knowledge of aforementioned trials, you take a tour of your local YMCA because you know that exercise is essential to being “healthy.”
You tour the facility and gobble up the information about the childcare that is included with the family plan…and immediately imagine yourself listening to an audiobook on that sunlit patio that you’re walking past.
No, stop. You will listen to that audiobook on the elliptical, because you are reentering.
You will take note of all of the other people in the gym and begin to feel really confident, and beautiful — you will begin to feel really proud of your youthful looking skin and the mobility of your joints — something that you’ve never really appreciated before.
You will feel like Kate Hudson in a fabletics advertisement as you stroll from room to room. You suddenly realize this is because you are the only person in the weight room who doesn’t qualify for social security, but you shrug it off and say a prayer of thankfulness for your youth.
You realize you really like this place. You accept a 3-day pass and you make a plan to try out spin class on Thursday.
You show up to the gym a good 25 minutes before class starts so that you can make sure to get a towel from the front desk and get reacquainted with the bike that you will be straddling for the next 45 minutes.
You go to the front desk and ask for your towel and the kind people point you to the only Arnold Schwarzenegger-looking man in the building. You take a deep inhale and proceed to his counter. You tell yourself, “I can do hard things,” and you convince your brain to make audible words come out of your mouth. “May I please have a towel?”
He hands you the towel, and now that you’ve touched it, you realize you can’t find your water bottle so you have to set it back down on the counter so you can retrieve it from your car. You go to your car to realize that it is not in your cup holder.
Immediately panic, and bring your hand to forehead, like that cute little emoji you use all of the time in your texts, and hit yourself in the face with your water bottle.
Tell yourself it’s not embarrassing to look for things that you’re already holding in your hands. Everybody does it.
Avoid eye contact with Arnold as you make your way back into the facility. Walk quickly to the spin room, and introduce yourself to the instructor. Be courageous and actually ask her how to properly and safely use the machine. Make a couple friends on the bikes next to you.
Realize that everyone in this place is super friendly and feel so comfortable in that space. Emotional coddling is essential to fitness success.
The music begins and you start slow; it’s been a while since you’ve done this and you don’t want to push it too hard this first time around.
Feel great that you’ve made it through 20 minutes of your 45-minute class and begin to ride your stationary bike like you are freaking Jillian Michaels. Ride that bike like you are Lance Armstrong training for the Tour de France. Make it through a whole song while doing the standing thing where you are pedaling to the beat.
Finish the song and sit down in the saddle. Prepare to reward yourself with a few dainty sips of water.
Feel impending nausea. Tell yourself it will pass.
Barely move your feet through the next song because all of your energy is being used to keep down the 4 bites of oatmeal that you consumed this morning.
Tell yourself the nausea will fade, and have flashbacks to pregnancy and realize that nausea, for you, doesn’t just fade.
Without making eye contact, slyly remove yourself from the spin room and proceed to release your 4 bites of oatmeal into the YMCA toilet.
Feel good about your 25 minutes of heart pounding exercise because it’s more cardio than you did yesterday.
When Arnold takes a break from his towel folding and glances at the clock, asking you how spin class went, confidently respond with, “Great!”
Decide that even though you could be embarrassed about the outcome of today and never finish days 2 and 3 of your 3-day pass, that you will, in fact, come back. Because every single person at that place is kind.
And realize that while looking like Kate or Jillian would be really nice, it’s probably not in the cards for you, but you will do your best to show up and do more hard things the next time.
Because health, I guess.
And there’s nothing bad about going somewhere and surrounding yourself with people that make you feel your best.