Te-Erika’s Diary: Meeting People at the Hollywood YMCA

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I bought tennis rackets for my sons so that we could do exercise activities while they visited me here in LA. We never got to use them because my son hurt his foot so I kept them here with me, promising my boys that I would take lessons and teach them the next time they visited me.

I couldn’t find a tennis partner so I decided to find another physical activity that I could do alone so I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone to help me get fit. I decided to face my biggest fear, well, one of them; I decided to take swimming lessons.

I looked online and saw that the lessons were offered at the Y and when I called I was informed that the membership fee was waived for the month of January so I signed up and became a member. This being my first membership at a gym and never having been active on any sports team at all, really made me nervous.

My biggest fear is that I would have to socialize and meet awful people who are mean-spirited but after a few days I realized that no one talks to you unless you talk to them which is a good thing.

I did meet a few people there so far and I’ll tell you what it was like.

The first person I met was the front desk person, it was a guy and I don’t remember his name. He was funny, smiling and answered my questions easily as he signed me up for my membership. Then I took a tour to see what the amenities were, the guy who took me around was kind of cold and uninterested. I had never experienced such a sloppy tour before. He didn’t smile even once as though he wasn’t thrilled that I would be joining or maybe that he doesn’t like working there.

So I went to my first swimming lesson that same night and my instructor was a jovial guy named Fernando, I think. He was extremely welcoming and fun to learn from. I laughed so much during that lesson but I also learned a lot from him about how to sink and kick my legs. I usually don’t trust anyone but I’m warming up to him as the weeks go on and maybe by the end, I’ll be confident enough to believe he’ll save me if I were to almost drown. That is one of my fears about learning to swim, I never trust the person enough to save me if I were to get in trouble in the water so I didn’t want to learn.

The next person I met was my trainer. You get 6 free sessions with a personal trainer who helps you learn all of the machines and answers your questions. This guy’s name was Arthur and I caught him on the very day he returned to work following the birth of his first child. He looked dazed and confused, exactly how a new parent would look. It made me laugh and I felt kind of sorry for him because I remember taking care of a new baby; your entire world changed.

But he wasn’t rude to me. He looked exhausted but he answered all of my questions and showed me everything and told me a little about himself, his fitness goals and his past athletic endeavors. He set me up with a plan for doing strength exercises and showed me the treadmill and elliptical and I have been following his plan ever since. One thing he said to me kind of got on my nerves though. When I told him I was a writer he said writers usually last about 6 months as he showed me a sit down and relax type of bicycle that he claims writers love to use. I laughed. He even mentioned something about January people coming to the gym. I knew what he meant. Lots of people start off the new year by joining the gym but never make it past February. He can have his opinion. Yes, I started in January but I didn’t even mean to join a damn gym. Anyway, in 6 months I’ll probably be living in a new city and won’t be able to stay at the gym so he’s right. But, overall, he was cool.

The next person I met was the spinning class instructor. Spinning is a great for cardio and building certain leg muscles but it should not be done independent of other strength exercises. Anyway, the instructor’s name was Joe and he was a SCREAM, SWEAT and HIP HOP type of instructor which made the class fun and interesting to watch him yell and lead us. It kind of felt like I was on a real ride with a pack of cyclists, like a gang of us headed on a trail.

The next person I met was a woman who sits next to me in spin class. She was interesting because she’s about my size in weight so I didn’t feel too alone as I looked around and 99% of the people there were extremely fit and didn’t look like they needed to be there. But this lady said that she used to be an athlete and had returned to the gym after 10 years of not working out. She said she had spent 10 years at the same YMCA in Hollywood before and the crazy part is, now that she had returned, the same people were there and remembered her. That shows you that working out is a serious lifestyle for fit people. It’s not something to jump into and out of.

After that I met another spinning class instructor even though after my first class and how much my ass hurt I had quit spinning in my mind. But I decided to just jump back in and it didn’t hurt as much as the first time at all.

This instructor was A lady named Marisa. She was short and very bubbly. Her spinning style was more like aerobics where we were spinning in our seats and doing arm exercises, checking our pulse and standing up and sitting down. It was fun, she was sweet and afterwards I went to say thanks for a good class.

After that I became hooked, I wanted to go back every day. So I did. I started doing Arthur’s plan, 30 minutes of strength circuit training and then spin class. The next instructor I met was this woman named Jade. When Jade walked into the room I had to pause and stare.

She was like- WOW. Her body was perfection. Her skin tone was milk chocolate. Her smile and voice were powerful. She was short like me but she was petite and firm. I couldn’t stop staring at her body and how amazing it was.

She was a fireball with her little self. She screamed like Joe, walked around encouraging and correcting us and played music that I didn’t really recognize. I enjoyed her instruction and by the time we were doing stretches I had gotten the confidence to go and introduce myself.

I said Hi and told her my name and told her that I loved what she had done with her body and she said it was mostly about diet and told me about her website, before asking me to email her. I went home and checked it out and her pictures on there are super risque but definitely show off her form. I am pretty sure I want to learn from her and hire her as a nutrition trainer because I could stand to learn more about healthy eating if it would help me be able to teach my sons and of course, all of My Savvy Sisters.

Oh. Today I was still on a roll and went back to spin class and there was a different instructor. Her name is Caroline and she says she has worked there for 16 years almost. She had good energy and a really fit body. Her spinning style was more of a meditation experience like she would try to paint the picture that we were actually going up a steep hill. “We’re almost there. We can see the hill top. Keep going,” she encouraged.

I don’t know what kind of music she was playing but I could not keep up with her at all, she was so fast on the bike. In fact, I can’t keep up with the class usually but I don’t mind. I know that I am new and these people have been doing this for year and years.

After the class I went to speak to her and listen to her explain some things to a new girl. I explained that I wasn’t exactly new to fitness but that I was new to the gym experience but that I really wanted to become a fit woman. I was so sincere and offering up my dreams to her. She looked at me and said, “How cute.”

She mentioned that she was teaching a Gravity class next. I had heard about it and had missed my strength training for the day so I decided to see what it was like.

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When I first walked into the room it felt cold and sad like an operating room and those machines looked like death contraptions. I was not smiling or feeling good about it at all. It was crazy hard. We were strength training using our body weight. I’ve been doing strength training all week using the regular lifting machines and I did not do anywhere near as much as I did in those 45 minutes.

The craziest part was the fact that the two ladies on either side of me told me that the instructor had set my machine too high/difficult for a beginner but she told me it was fine. Later she came back and said, “You’re struggling, change the setting.”

I was like- But you knew I was a first timer, why would you do that?  Did you want to see me struggle? Did it make you feel good to watch me huff and puff and squeak my way through the set?

I don’t know. That didn’t make me feel too good but I still walked out of there feeling proud of myself. Sometimes I think its better not to get to know people because people are so awful most of the time.

I am so sincere about learning about fitness and so far I haven’t had anyone specific guide me. I’ve been reading on my own, finding my own workout videos, pushing myself to do more. I’ll keep it up. I see that expressing my interest to people only makes them resent me. What I’ll do is learn as much as I can on my own and I’ll figure it out.

I always do. I always meet my goals and that is NOT an affirmation; it’s the truth.

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