I went to the gym yesterday. I feel like giggling when I say that.
Why does a thin girl who has never played a sport in her life, doesn’t know how to run, and can’t tell a treadmill from an elliptical join a gym? Well, thanks for asking. Let me tell you. All moms know this little secret: a gym membership is cheaper than preschool.
Also, the twins destroyed my body (no, not like that). But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Before I had kids, I had a good friend with five very small children, none of whom were yet in school. She worked out at the gym every.single.day. I asked her what in the world would possess her to be so hard on herself. She said, “Are you crazy? The gym is the easiest thing I do all day. This is the ONLY way I get a shower.” Huh.
Now that I have three small non-school-age children of my own, I see the light! I told my husband that we were gonna have to put the twins in preschool … or send me to the looney bin. However, this whole gym membership thing seemed like a more reasonable choice – even for me, the least athletic person ever.
I’m no slouch. I mall-walked four miles several times per week, while pushing a double stroller and carrying a kid strapped to my chest for months. I regularly trail-walked with a TRIPLE JOGGING STROLLER that weighed more than I did with the kids in it. And, I did yoga regularly for ten years before the twin pregnancy, so I’m not totally klutzy. But I have never played a sport … and the only way you will see me running is when my Hurricane Twin darts into parking lots. (My college roommate used to just burst into a run on the way to class, just as some people may spontaneously burst into song. She would burst into a run. I would not join her. She once asked, “Don’t you ever just feel like running?” No, no, I don’t.)
During this super long winter, I felt like a dog running in circles without enough exercise. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, always says that there is no replacement for “forward motion” for your dog. Going on a walk is so much better than running in circles in the living room. I’m going to make a leap here and say that the importance of “forward motion” applies to toddlers and moms of toddlers, as well as dogs. (Sorry to compare you to dogs again, kids!)
Mr. Okayest and I looked at several reasonably-priced gyms. I’m not a picky mom (duh), but some of the childcare places looked a little less than okayest. I didn’t exactly think I would be motivated to work out if the childcare facilities made me feel sad. My twin-friend joined a rather expensive gym that had the most amazing childcare facility I had ever seen. Skylights. Indoor jungle gyms. Mini-treadmills. Just kidding about that last one. And my friend swore that they actually cleaned their toys. And they had closed-circuit nanny-cams that you could watch while you worked out on the ellipticals (treadmills? I dunno). You could watch what kid hits your kid and then stalk his mom across the sauna. Just kidding. This was a place that I could imagine throwing my three kids in – until I heard the price. After hearing the price, I said “no thank you” for a whole year.
Then, we learned that the twin pregnancy had actually done some real damage to my spine. It turns out that carrying twins in your uterus and then carrying twins on your hips isn’t good for your back. Who knew?! The x-rays showed that adding 80 pounds to my 115 pound body was more than I could bear. I lost the weight, but I didn’t lose the damage. I’ve recently started going to doctors and physical therapy, but it seems that I have some permanent troubles. More muscle won’t cure me, but it will certainly help. (A little more muscle can only help with my day job, anyway.)
This back problem has also been making my lifelong migraines worse, and it’s all becoming a vicious cycle. And throwing my back out every couple of months (weeks) only makes life harder for my loved ones. My sweet husband and parents and in-laws have done more than enough taking care of me! I am so grateful for their help and so desperate not to need it.
I kept trying to get back into yoga, but my back problems would prevent me from doing the one thing that I knew would help. (Ah, the old familiar catch-22 of chronic pain…) Also, while I’m making excuses, let me add that the local rec center offered yoga at 8PM. In case you’re not familiar with being a stay-at-home mother of multiples, let me just say that 8PM might as well be 2AM. By the time the kids are in bed at 7:30PM, I am too tired to lift the remote or the phone. Seriously. (I made it there a few times over the last year, but it took superhuman strength.)
My twin friend and my husband both said that the only way the exercise was going to get done was if I took the kids with me. My twin friend and my husband both said that you couldn’t put a price on a gym buddy, or having time to yourself away from the kids. I said you can’t put a price on a closed-circuit nanny-cam that I could watch while I was on the elliptical (treadmill? I dunno).
I was terrified to go to the gym for the first time. I stalled for a few days. Or more. What do I wear? How do I maneuver three little ones into a new place? What do I bring? Where do I put my stuff? I had to convince Mr. Okayest to take me on a Saturday, to show me around, even though he had never been there either. (I have a weird quirk that going to new places alone for the first time makes me unreasonably nervous.) He helped me wrangle three confused kids into the childcare area. The good news about twins is that at least they always have each other.
Then he showed me the difference between an elliptical and a treadmill. He showed me which machines might be good for my back, even though I wanted to cry because I didn’t see any women on them. I’m only here for yoga classes, I said! I felt so self-conscious at first. Nobody looked like they were first-timers like me. Nobody looked like they had toothpick arms like me. And you know what else? Nobody looked at me, either. Nobody cares about me! They are just there to work out and get a break from their kids and fix their crooked backs.
And the best part? I got to watch my kids on the nanny-cam while I worked out. All three stuck together like glue. Often, they even sit in a circle, back to back, as if they are circling the wagons. “I’ve literally got your back, bro.” And the other best part? I felt great after working out… like I actually wanted to go again. Why didn’t you guys tell me I would like it?!
This whole gym thing won’t be forever. Once the kids are in school, I could switch to a less-fancy gym without the childcare from heaven. Plus, once I magically become a more athletic person, maybe I could ditch the gym and exercise on my own like Mr. Okayest. My okayest goal is to go once a week. Maybe I will get there more often, but we still have trails to walk.