Hitting the Gym

June 22, 2020, Hailey Cain

With our county entering phase 2 of reopening, I decided it’s a good time to go back to the gym with Joshua, who eagerly started going back the day they reopened.

If I’m being honest, I was not as active during my pregnancy as I could have been. Early on, I tried taking a yoga class. But I stopped going to the gym when the class ended and my exercise was limited to taking walks.

I wouldn’t have considered myself a fitness enthusiast by any means before pregnancy, although I did go to the gym for strength training three times a week most weeks. I didn’t feel comfortable keeping up my strength training routine while pregnant because it was new to me, though I could have modified it if I really wanted to continue.

Also, being completely honest with myself, I didn’t do much working out at home after having Delilah either. There were a few at home post-baby workouts I tried, but I didn’t really stick to them.

I’ve always had a hard time working out at home, where are too many distractions and reasons to put off working out. On countless occasions I’ve found myself saying, “I’ll do my workout after I switch the laundry,” and then after that I find another task that seems more urgent than doing my workout. So, going to the gym worked for me because it set a dedicated workout time, and I might as well work hard once I managed to drag myself all the way there.

With a new baby in the house, I didn’t feel comfortable heading back right when the gym reopened, but my husband told me how safety protocols were implemented, and now I feel comfortable.

My mom agreed to watch Delilah once a week so Joshua and I can go to the gym together. I’ll have some time to focus on myself and my health.

I tried to have realistic expectations for where myself when I started going back to the gym. After more than 9 months, it was realistic to expect to start from the ground up with my strength exercises like squats and bench press. And I definitely did not expect to jump right back on the treadmill and start running.

My first time back at the gym, I planned to take it easy and use it as a diagnostic day to see where I was, physically. My expectation to start over with strength training was correct, but I was surprised that I had a lot of fundamental issues with my form, especially when it came to squats. Josh eventually cut his workout short so he could watch my form and try to help me where possible.

I was very disappointed with myself after that first workout. I never struggled with my form, even when I first started my strength training prior to pregnancy. I left the gym just feeling frustrated.

My biggest surprise was that it felt so awkward to move my body. I didn’t even want to look in the mirror during my lift because I felt so awkward and wrong doing the exercise. I decided to focus my efforts into getting my form right and that’s all I worked on the next week.

We tried so many modifications and dropped all the weights until I was just doing body weight squats and I still couldn’t get it right. It seemed like as soon as I corrected one issue another one would surface. After the third week of this even one of the employees at the gym was helping me. He also recommended the free trainer appointment for new gym members where you can ask questions and discuss your goals.

I felt so defeated at this point that I decided to try it, because it couldn’t make things any worse. I’m happy I did. I was matched with a trainer whose style was best suited to my goals, so I would get the most benefit from the session.

At the session, I talked to the trainer and told her about my issues. She completely understood and I felt validated with my frustrations. She helped me to figure out what was causing my issues in form. She also showed me warm-ups and modifications to weighted squats that I could do to help build strength without jumping straight back into the heavy bar.

After the appointment, I felt better about working out again. It left me feeling prepared for my next workout at the gym, and even a little motivated to find a way to fit in an extra workout or two at home, until I’m able to make it to the gym more.

As parents, it can be so hard just to keep up with everything going on at home and often our health gets put on the back burner. After all this, I’m glad I decided to devote just a little time each week to focus on my health.