Single Mom Slice of Change:
I Joined A Gym!?!?

I’m a mess. A red-hot, completely flawed, probably in need of therapeutic help, certifiable mess.

I have a phobia about being watched. As a larger girl, I stress that people are looking at me, wondering how I got this way. Ugh, and if I’m standing next to one of my sisters who are no bigger than a stick pin… forget it. I’ll wait in the car. It’s a huge part of why I’m uncomfortable in crowds.

So please believe that it was shocking to find myself – albeit impatiently – in the lobby of a gym. It had taken years to get here, and only seconds to start finding ways to back out of it.

For instance, it’s close to work, a mere 10 minute drive, but how often would I go on the weekends? Even though I would be going in the bright light of day – it’s in a not so great part of town.

You know what – never mind. I don’t need to join a gym!

My trainer gave me a set of exercises to do. Except I have zero will power, and in the winter it’s nice and warm under the covers, and in the summer it’s just too hot to get up and immediately start sweating…

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That’s ok though because I have friends pools, and swimming works every muscle in your body! Except… then I have to put on a swim suit and wear it… in front of my friends. Plus, I’d have to drive two cities over…

Luckily, I live next to a park complete with lake! Except, I live in Arizona, and the chances of me walking around the lake when it’s 115 outside are…

But, I told myself I would at least tour the gym. At 3:30, there were 3 people in the gym. Even I could find a corner dark enough to hide in. Except, the staff looked through me, gave me a tour that felt robotic, and literally uttered the phrase, “now let’s talk money”.


Feeling justified leaving without a membership, I was (kind of) ok with it. Bad neighborhood, dislike of the staff… and then I looked down at my GPS. Because I hadn’t reset it when I left the first gym, it was redirecting me to the next nearest gym with the same name.

It wouldn’t take nearly as long to write this next one out – it’s 20 minutes in the opposite direction of home. BUT I wanted to be able to say I vetoed it with a clear conscious. So why not stop in, check off a few boxes to end this clearly hair-brained plan, and head home.

First, the parking lot was packed. Where there are cars, there are people, and as we’ve already established… I don’t like people.

Second, I was nearly attacked as soon as I walked through the door. The staff immediately smiled, asked how they could help me, and even offered me water – the monsters!

Third, though not every machine was in use, a lot of them were, and not a single person turned to stare at the big girl taking a tour of a gym.

Finally, and this was the most upsetting – no one asked me to join. It was as though they were giving me a chance to decide for myself if I wanted to join. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Ready to go and write-off this whole insane adventure, I went through my checklist: it’s out of the way from both work and home, the parking is crap, the gym is busy, and the staff is… well… nice – which makes it way harder to have a bad attitude.

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So, I turned, smiled, and prepared myself to brush them off. Instead of, “thanks, I’ll think about it” on my way out the door, I found myself nodding and asking, “is it possible to sign up today?”


I go nearly every day. The staff knows me by name, they ask about my kids, they notice when I bust my butt, and ask if I’m ok when I don’t. My self-conscious issues have eased thanks to my cell phone, and the Pandora/Netflix apps (depending on what machine I’m using). My stress levels drop after each visit.

I’m not a completely changed person. I dress at work during the week, and home on the weekends before I go because I’m still not comfortable using the gym locker room. I know the prime times to go before it gets too full, and there are still certain machines I’m too afraid to try.

But, with each trip, I accountability. Both the gym, and my trainer get snapshots of my workout summary. Most importantly, my 20 year old has asked to be my permanent guest after seeing how much better I feel after working out.

In the end, the only person holding me back, judging, throwing up roadblocks… was me. Once I got out of my own way, the path was clear.

Until next time, ask yourself: is it the situation, or the spin you put on the situation that is holding you back? How do/did you overcome it?