The gym is a place of mixed emotion for me. I am constantly comparing myself to the ability of others in the gym which means I am always at a disadvantage. Having said this, the gym is also a space where I can prove to myself my abilities despite all the setbacks I face physically. I often forget how much energy and effort I need to do classes or exercise in the gym so have to remind myself to ensure that I keep my achievements in perspective. I decided to share a few of my experiences from this Aladdin’s Cave
I have now given myself the initials EOT (elephant on a treadmill) when using the running machine. This is because I make such a racket when using this piece of equipment. Everyone else around me seems to effortlessly sprint away in silence whilst I bang along with every stride. I have now become completely immune to everyone’s stares as soon as I get moving as there is nothing I can do about it and frankly, if others have enough energy to be bothered about what I am doing then they are not working hard enough.
However, this EOT does not come without its own issues, last weekend, despite my foot causing me pain all week I decided the best thing to do on a sunny Saturday morning was go for a 6km run. To be honest, this was done at an exceptionally slow pace and did take me a whole 50 minutes (I would really love to be faster at running but one of the frustrations of my CP is this is just unachievable). When I returned from my run the pain was so great I could barely walk and had to resort to hobbling and hopping to move around. I have since been told that this is a stress fracture as a result of too much high impact activity-great timing by me given our ski holiday next week. As a consequence I am banned from the gym and any exercise this week to try to improve the state of my foot before hitting the slopes next week. This has given me a serious case of cabin fever, but I suppose needs must. The point of this story is again to show that my determination, although usually positive does mean that I take things too far and don’t know when to stop.
In addition my noisy slow running as my CP means that my knees point inward, my feet are flying out at all angles as a result. Also, I often manage to clang my knees together whilst running giving me a nice purple splodge right on the inside of my knee. I feel a huge sense of achievement if I manage to come home from a run outdoors without falling over-usually I return muddy and bleeding-a great look. This is because, when running my walking pattern is exaggerated meaning that I am more likely to catch my toes and go flying or trip over a stray tree root or stone in my path. I never manage to look up whilst running, I continuously have to look down at the ground to minimise crashing to the floor. Even on the treadmill I will randomly wobble from side to side, sometimes completely stepping off the moving section as I lose my balance for no reason. This then means I have to rapidly grab the handrails and get my feet under control all whilst the belt is still moving to avoid a comedy sketch situation with me falling off the treadmill. I try my upmost to avoid this as I really don’t need more attention drawn to me and my EOT.
As my balance is very much all over the place trying to get deep into a squat whilst maintaining the correct form is just shambolic. As my knees and toes point inward due to my CP I have to work very hard to keep my knees over my toes when in a squat. This takes a heck of a lot of hard work and I always feel as though I am fighting with my legs. In addition, when in the gym class I never understand how my fellow sweaters manage to get so low, they are literally like frogs hopping around with they behind nearly on the floor they can get so deep in their squat. Meanwhile, I feel like a giant towering over them all as my tight leg muscles means the depth of my squat appears pathetic. This really frustrates me and I often feel I am on a losing battle but it really does knacker my legs. When it comes to lunges, my knees are definitely not over my toes-my legs seem to have a mind of their own no matter how hard I try. Also as the instructor seems to do the lunge reps at a super speed, I really struggle to keep up so my balance is out the window, resulting in me flailing my arms like the windmill in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
So despite all of the awkward situations I manage to get myself into in the gym, it has really helped me to cope mentally whether it be to prove to myself that I am capable or just to clear my head of all the madness of the day. It also means that my daily stretches which I have to do for my CP are part of my gym routine so I am much more likely to get them done!