Joining A Gym Over 50 - not as scary as you might think!
I joined a gym!
By Laterlife features editor Sally Smith
Last month I took the radical step of joining a gym. I was pleasantly surprised at the welcome and the thoroughness of the pre-exercise checks that were undertaken.
But now it was crunch time. I had been given a detailed report on my state of health and we had discussed my ambitions re fitness and weight. A programme had been worked out for me and now the time had come to be introduced to all that high tech machinery that you see in a modern gym.
I was met by one of Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre’s instructors and it was lovely that he didn’t patronise me in any way for being an oldy joining a gym far too late in life. In fact, it was the reverse, he couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about my decision to try and get fit at a later stage in life.
The first thing I was introduced to was a rowing machine. At least it was a sitting down exercise!! He got me to press the little computer style screen attached to the machine and showed me how to set up rowing, 1500 metres, 10 minutes. It was easy to manage but the numbers were fairly small and I thought, that could be my first point of failure. Without reading glasses, many people will be unable to work the screen. However, looking around, I saw a number of people carrying little bags with them, with towels, drink bottles and various personal items. So one problem solved, you can wear reading glasses to set the equipment and then take them off for the exercise.
I just about rowed 1500 metres although if it had been a real river I doubt I would have made it back to the shore! But then the shock came – “Right, that was the warm up,” said my instructor.
After that it all became a bit of a haze; a strange pushing machine and then a pulling machine and then a soft blue padded machine which was better because I could actually lie down on it. I had to push against a board with both feet to lift me along and back, but at least I was lying down! Finally I was introduced to a pulling machine using a rope above my head attached to various weights.
None of it was impossible though, it was more a question of getting to understand what the equipment did and how it worked. But I did like the equipment, it was modern, very clean and looked so efficient and fun that I found I actually wanted to give them a go.
An hour whizzed past and without noticing it, I had become hot and sweaty. I particularly liked the individual “report” card that you can fill in every time you exercise. Nuffield says this is key to ensuring you track how you are progressing and will also help the instructors give assistance when needed. The support level was exceptional and already I was beginning to feel that I had to succeed not just for myself but for my enthusiastic trainer.
I have to say I did also like the surroundings. The whole area was beautifully decorated with lighting, clever colour schemes, televisions in strategic places – some of the running machines even had their own tvs – good quality carpets; it all looked more like a hotel lobby than a gym and certainly this helped me feel more relaxed.
On my next visit I am going to be introduced to various cycling, running and walking machines which have been incorporated into my programme; but my instructor felt I had done enough for my first day.
Going downstairs to the changing rooms – which are so comfortable and have every facility you need including private change rooms, showers, big mirrors and hair dryers – I passed a notice board showing various classes. They all looked interesting, especially the swim and aqua exercise programmes . I could see the swimmers in the lovely big pool and it looked so nice I would have quite liked to have joined them. I had seen getting fit as a necessity; suddenly I realized it could actually be fun as well. I can’t wait for my next visit!
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