Are you afraid of the big bad gym? Do you imagine that it's full of young, fit, slim people in expensive workout gear all knowing exactly what to do on the shiny machines, while you wander round sweaty and mortified doing everything wrong and looking fat and stupid?
That was me. And that was why I didn't manage to stay with any of the three gyms I have joined in my life for more than a few weeks.
Until now. Well hopefully.
You see I've been wanting to join a proper gym, for lots of reasons. Even though I'm middle-aged and overweight and have little spare time, keeping body and mind healthy is becoming more and more important if I'm going to be up to the task of caring for my two teenagers as long as they need me to do so.
I'm also worried about the cult of personal responsibility, that blames you if you're poor, unhealthy or depressed and I've no confidence that there will be services available to help me and my family when I need them. So I need to look after myself.
Working out in a gym should help with my back problems by strengthening my core, reduce stress and anxiety, and even help me to lose weight, as well as avoiding osteoporosis.
Sounds important, doesn't it?
But like so many other things, I never actually got around to it. At least not properly. When I did join a gym, I wouldn't ask for help, so always ended up leaving. It takes someone else to give me a push. This time it was the opportunity for a month's free gym membership of the Icon Health Club in Dublin to try out the Milon Circuit Workout, with an introduction from a personal trainer and a date to attend. So I had to go!
Obviously I had lots of questions: What to put in my bag. What to wear. What to say. What to do.
I needn't have worried. They were expecting me, and my bum bag and black workout clothes were fine. I had my personal details taken, and a full introduction to Milon as well as a brief tour of the (fabulous) premises. Apparently only 20% of the people who go to gyms are actual "gym bunnies", the other 80% are just like me and you, yet most gyms find it hard to encourage us to keep coming back. That's where Milon comes in, it's a 35 minute circuit of machines that your trainer sets up for you and the details of your settings are recorded on your personal chipped card that you just slot into the machines as you go round. Sounds easy? Well there's a few things to remember. The second time I visited I was still struggling with whether my legs went on top of the bar or underneath it, and I'm pretty sure that I'm doing the cross trainer all wrong...
But so far I'm enjoying it, and hoping that it will give me the confidence to keep going to the gym in future, with all the health benefits that should bring. Angel is a huge fan of gyms and I'm blaming her enthusiasm for this. It could be catching. I was actively looking forward to my third visit this morning as it's allowing me to reconnect with the person I used to be, before special needs. I'm just another person when I'm at Icon, not a Mum, and definitely not a special needs mum!
Finally, the confession bit: to determine the setting for the Milon Circle, I had to stand on this fancy weighing scales which spat out a basic weight and fitness summary. Here's mine. It's the naked truth about me. Except I wasn't actually you know, naked, at the time...
So the weight is better than expected. Ditto BMI. Fat too. Hydration is shocking, given the amount of water I drink. Must review my coffee habit, I guess! As for my metabolic age being older than my real age, I'm starting to question why I bothered to run for 30 years now!!!
Here's hoping that after 8 sessions I will be showing some improvements. I will let you know and tell you what I thought of the whole experience --- and whether I've really lost my fear of gyms for good.
You can find out more about the Icon Health Club at iconhealthclub.ie