Before each workout Whitney (my workout partner) and I discuss what we want to work on and we invent an exercise program for the day, based on how much time and energy we have to spend. Last Friday the two of us had plans to meet a couple of coworkers at Sake Bombers. Our plan was to limit our workout to one hour, leaving us enough time to shower afterward and head out to dinner. After all, as long as we made our program intense enough, one hour should be sufficient – right? Wrong. We definitely did not follow through with our dinner date at Sake.
After one hour of cardio we intended to leave. I had worked myself into the ground already, in fact I felt as if I could collapse at any second. My heart was pounding, breath heavy. All I could taste was sweat, and all I could hear was my Ipod playing at maximum volume. My muscles were burning, my hands were even shaking. I could have stopped there and called it a good workout, but I couldn’t tear myself away. I wanted to see how much more I could push myself and, luckily, so did Whitney. We kept at it for three hours. After the cardio we weight trained for two hours, then rapped things up with a sixty minute Latin Impact class. I believe I am addicted to exercise. The gym is my playground and there was nothing that could have lured me away from my workout. Whitney and I run from machine to machine like kids in a candy shop, doing set after set.
Needless to say, our coworkers weren’t too thrilled when they found out we blew them off for the gym. The feeling I get when I test my limits, work to progress and push myself further than I thought possible is indescribable. It’s my favorite feeling in the world and I was content exactly where I was. I didn’t make it home from the gym until ten o’clock that night. I lounged on the couch for an hour before my phone started ringing… it was Whitney. “Hey, what’s up?” I asked. She responds, “Oh, not much… so that was a great workout, huh?” “Yeah, for sure. I feel great! Feel kind of bad for blowing off dinner, though.” Whitney laughed and said, “They’ll get over it! It was worth it. So, uh… want to go back to swim some laps?” “Sounds awesome,” I laughed as I glanced at the clock reading 11:15PM, “I’ll be there in ten!”
I have always been moderately active, but I didn’t start working out on a consistent basis until I was 16. When I got my first gym membership I didn’t think I would be disciplined enough to use the facility more than 2 days out of the week, but surprisingly, I managed to keep my workouts pretty frequent. When I turned 18 I got hired at the gym as a receptionist and that’s when my exercise addiction showed up. Being an employee at the gym, I became friends with coworkers who were personal trainers or tri-athletes and I ended up learning so much from them. They started giving me free workout sessions which taught me proper form while weight training, and they’d give me great ideas for new exercise routines. Once I became more knowledgeable and felt more comfortable on the floor, I was hooked.
There are many reasons why exercise makes me feel so good. First, exercise elevates my mood. Exercise improves circulation, which can help you to feel more alert and awake. You feel alive. Also, your body releases endorphins when you exercise. Endorphins act as a natural pain killer and research shows that you begin to think more positive when they are released into the bloodstream. I can feel this effect every day, during and after my workout.
I love the atmosphere that an active lifestyle brings. The amount of people I meet through gyms, marathons, hikes, and aerobics classes are unbelievable. What’s better, these are all people that share a common value with me. They all believe in taking care of their health, as well. They all think positive and they enjoy challenging themselves, just like me. I’ve developed many wonderful friends and lasting relationships through exercise. I can’t get enough.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the ideal amount of exercise needed to keep good physical and mental health. How much is too much? I know it’s important to allow recovery time for the body, otherwise I could end up losing strength. I try to keep that in mind, but a 24 hour break from the gym is still the biggest struggle for me. My body doesn’t feel right without my daily workout. I pay close attention to my body and I always keep an eye out for signs of over exerting myself. For example…I know my relaxed heart rate is 54 beats every minute. Every morning when I wake up, I check that my pulse is regular. If it’s slightly higher than normal the day after a workout, I know it’s time for a break.
I will be active as long as I live. Exercise is my lifestyle, and that’s all there is to it. A day without it is a big disappointment, a week without would be devastating.