Getting My Gym Legs Back – Returning to the YMCA

After seven months of working out in my basement, I am moving on. This was the month that I found my gym legs again returning to the gym in person. Here’s how I found my gym legs again and here’s how it’s going so far…

Deciding to Leave the Basement

The decision to return to the YMCA near my home was not without a whole lot of introspection, hand ringing and anxiety. In fact, it kind of surprised me that I had anxiety returning at all, but after seven months of basement workouts, there it was. Nerves.

Let’s face it the nerves were not unwarranted. I mean look around and you will see there are constantly gyms opening and closing and sudden Covid-19 outbreaks at Ontario gyms. That is all worrisome.

How I Found My Gym Legs Again

But I found my gym legs again this past month. Slowly, anxiously and then they returned just like getting right back on a bicycle.

Don’t Miss this Life is Like a Bicycle Relaxing Colouring Sheet.

Here’s My Why

Here’s the thing – there’s only so many months that a person can work out in their basement without completely losing their mind. We have all been working at home for months now. Our homes are our schools, our offices and our gyms. It is a lot.

My gym is crucial to my mental health and my happiness. Fitness matters a lot to me. It is the thing that I began as soon as we adopted our second daughter, a baby with special needs. I needed a break from parenting and I needed to get fit to be able to handle how demanding parenting her was, plus the constant advocacy was also exhausting. So, I joined the YMCA and I found my zen and my gym legs.

Actually, we joined the YMCA. All of us.

Pandemic Workouts

As soon as the gyms closed in March, I shifted into working out wherever and whenever I could. If that meant outside, then I took to the trails near my house. If it meant, in the bedroom or the basement, so be it. The important thing was that I worked out.

Yoga in my basement. That’s where I started and then to keep things interesting I did Boot Camp, Zumba, dance fitness classes and Power Walking. Here are the free virtual workouts that I followed.

I’ve walked through my neighbourhood, hiked and also have been swimming. Soon, I hope to be able to go skiing locally.

Our Pool Was Important Too

In fact, this was the year that we kept the pool open longer than ever before and we swam more than usual and I’m grateful we had that opportunity right in our own backyard. My gym legs for months were froggy legs saturated with water and chlorine. Boy, I have grown to love that smell.

The pool has been a blessing and I’ve used the pool as much as humanly possible this year, swimming most days. Our pool is heated so that’s definitely no hardship whatsoever.

But Last Week The Pool Closed

I’ve tried most things available to me. Still, I waited patiently for the announcement of the day the YMCA near my home opened.

Anyone who reads my site regularly knows how important fitness is to me. Pre-pandemic, I was going to the YMCA 4 – 5 days a week for yoga, Centergy, various group classes and just to maintain my own health, mentally and physically. It is my break from the chaos of raising teenagers and also from running my own business and it is respite from raising kids with special needs.

It was totally understandable that gyms had to close down and I completely recognize that was the only way to proceed, so I jumped in as soon as possible with virtual fitness and YouTube and all the basement fitness classes I could do.

Nonetheless, when the Y opened I was thrilled… and also a little bit anxious.

It’s no big shock that my family has become quite anxious as have a lot of families during the pandemic. But as soon as the martial arts studio opened up, my kids returned with all the Covid-19 protocols in place: masks on if you were indoors, extra cleaning, smaller numbers of students per class and you had to register for classes before attending.

My Kids Went Back to Martial Arts

So they resumed fitness classes that were important to them. They need sports for mental and physical health. We all do.

Then suddenly, the YMCA started to phase in a few group classes very slowly throughout the city. I showed up one night, registered for yoga in September thinking it was indoors and wondering how that would work, only to find that it was outside and on a colder night. I was ill-equipped, with no jacket and a little out of practice. Still, I moved fast and tried to warm up leaning into the idea of in person yoga again.

Would I Find Gym Legs and Stamina Again?

Youtube Yoga is great in a pinch, but it doesn’t provide the same in person challenge that an instructor standing in front of you can offer.

Nonetheless it was an important step getting out of the house and doing yoga. Another night my neighbour, who is now a certified yoga instructor, offered a free yoga class in a park near us and I went. That was a perfect weekend morning and it was warm and sunny. Kind of blissful actually.

Finally Back

Then finally the date came when I was scheduled to return to the YMCA. First you need to register. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but for whatever reason technical glitches prevented me from being able to register.

First You Register

The registration process is important because there are a limited number of spots available to maintain social distancing in each class. At the most classes are 15 or less. (As I hit publish on this new rules have been enacted today and that limit is now 10.) Ten is fine by me.

Registration opens every Thursday.

So, I picked up the phone and called someone at the front desk of the branch closest to me. Turns out the system wouldn’t let me register because the classes were already full. Bummed at that, I told them add my name to the waitlist.

Because I was first on the waitlist, it wasn’t that surprising when I got a call the night before the Saturday morning class. Off I went with my mask, water bottle and my matt, leaving the other personal items at home or in the van. No purse and no extra clothing. Bring just what you need.

Class began and it was slightly surreal seeing a few faces I hadn’t seen in months. Despite working out all throughout the quarantine, social distancing phases we have gone through here, my legs definitely felt the workout immediately. Squats I do at home are not the squats that we do in class. An in person instructor pushes you and challenges you to go further.

Two Week Check In

I have been back now maybe two full weeks. On average that is two to three times a week. I register and attend and I feel better afterwards, because I need it. Does it cause everyone a little bit of anxiety here? Yes, and I totally understand that. Yesterday my husband point blank said: you NEED to be careful. You are going too much. He is not a normally anxious person, but everyone here has become either anxious or depressed during COVID, so frankly I get it and I got a bit angry actually and lashed out.

Sometimes I Need Space

But, I go for me. I need fitness, for mental and physical health.

Too many days I feel like that airplane safety demo. Put on your safety mask first if it drops from the ceiling. You can’t help anyone else if you run out of oxygen.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.