Becoming a gym rat

I have often said I don’t really like exercising — I just like running. People who go to the gym and “work out” seem strange to me. Until now.

Previously, when I was logging big miles and running well, I did do some cross-training, but mostly just to improve my running.

Then I got engaged. This, as many women can tell you, is motivation to do crazy things. And, in general, has prompted a lot of change in our household. Both my fiancé and I want to look good on our big day, which means upping our fitness regimes.

To fit in my dress, I need to lose an inch off my waist. This prompted a diet, which has successfully lasted six weeks and almost 10 fewer pounds. But, I knew I also need to be generally more fit and would like to look more toned. This would require something more than just running. 

Chris set his sites on a half-Ironman this summer, marking his return to triathlons. After four consecutive Ironman Louisville events, he has taken about 3.5 years away from the tri scene. April 13 marks his return, with a sprint event.

But to train for a triathlon, one needs access to a lot of train opportunities. An indoor pool, for example, and indoor cycling and running options for inclement weather days.

So we came to a pretty easy consensus: join Baptist Milestone Wellness Center. This was Chris’ gym-of-choice when he was Ironman training; I had been there as a guest a few times.

This place is nothing short of amazing. It’s worth a Google search. It is a 70,000-square-foot facility, with two pools (a lap pool and a therapy pool), 250+ fitness and aquatic classes, more treadmills and cardio equipment than I could count, a walking/jogging track, a cafe and a spa.

I had actually been advocating for us joining for several months. Once we got engaged — in December — I knew I wouldn’t do a marathon this year. (Okay, I’m considering Memphis or another December full, but we’ll see.)

Since I knew my running would be less intense, I wanted to supplement my routine — and fit in this dress! 

At Milestone, I can take Pilates and other core classes (they even have a full Pilates studio full of what appears to be medeval torture devices), and I can take yoga and other stretching classes. That forces me to do two things I hate doing — abs and stretching. Yuck. 

I have also started to go to spin class on my no-running day, which works different muscles in my legs, for sure. 

Chris, meanwhile, has access to treadmills and spin classes (including at least one class where you do both), plus the pool and all the other strength-training equipment he wants.

Oh, and because they are half-owned by a local hospital, there’s a physical therapy office on-site. All members get a PT consult for free every quarter. 

For heaven’s sake, the place has WiFi! Get this. I can run (inside or out, it’s next to two parks), go to a group class, shower (free towel service!) and have dinner at the cafe while doing work from my iPad. 

Or, on days that I go to the gym early (spin at 5:55 a.m., stretch/abs class at 6:40), I can get ready for work (they have dozens hair dryers and even hairspray!) and grab a coffee and healthy breakfast sandwich on my way out.

It is interesting to see how much our lives have shifted — for the better — since joining a month ago. We are fitter, more well-rounded and, I think, generally happier.

Who knew “working out” could be so enjoyable?

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