Joining a Gym

“When you take control of your physical well-being by going to CURVES three times a week, you then automatically become stronger mentally about what you put in your mouth.”

I never thought I would join a gym. I teased my friends and said they were just doing it to be trendy. They were not becoming noticeably thinner and as for exercise, my job as an Early Childhood teacher kept me constantly moving and there were stairs everywhere which I attacked briskly and hardly puffed at all.

Then everything changed. First, a CURVES FOR WOMEN opened in the shopping centre three minutes away and about the same time, I went to buy a new swim suit. Now, this is an item of clothing you don’t replace very often. Mine was so old it had a little skirt attachment designed to hide the flabby lower parts. Over the years, the stretch fabric had relaxed to fit easily round the bumps and bulges but when I noticed that the bra cups had turned yellow I realised it was long past the use-by date.

At the Department Store I picked out a smart black and white swimsuit that was only $50. Really? I put on my glasses and it was actually $150. Wow, it had been a long time between swimmers. I was a bit uneasy about the new “cut-away” style that was all the rage but figured a bit of work with the razor would solve that problem. I struggled and strained to pull the suit over my knickers and that achieved at last, shoved my boobs around until I was in. I looked in the full length mirror and screamed! The bottom of the suit seemed to have completely disappeared God knows where and before me was a vision of horror. I was staring at a large, trussed penguin.

It is not a good idea to go swimsuit buying at the end of a long cold winter. Salads and fruits and iced water are a distant memory; you’ve been warming up for months with stews, sticky date puddings and hot chocolate. Ones legs and thighs have lost their glow and tan and are now –to be painfully honest- like lard. I was so anxious to get out of that swimsuit, I tripped over my tangled clothes, fell across the changing room and wedged against the door. The Attenborough film of the penguin sliding across the ice before diving into the water, came to mind. Except that I wasn’t moving.

I stumbled out finally and flung the swimsuit in the direction of the saleslady who was hovering anxiously on the other side of the door.

“Can I get you another one to ...?” she asked but I was gone. By mid-afternoon, I was enrolled in CURVES and going round my first circuit. At once, I liked the way you could work at your own pace. I loved that you could be out in thirty minutes.

Now it’s years later and with 1,235 workouts under the looser belt, I know perfectly well that you don’t enrol in a gym to suddenly lose weight and look like Elle McPherson in a swimsuit. That is only half of the story because of course, eating sensibly and eating LESS as a normal way of life, is the other part. And I have found that when you take control of your physical well-being by going to CURVES three times a week, you then automatically become stronger mentally about what you put in your mouth; otherwise, the time, the money and the sheer sweat expended at your gym would be a waste.

I have not changed shape much since I joined and I could do better but I am healthier and fitter than I was twenty years ago and can run up school stairs like a gazelle. I can’t say I love going. Apart from the enjoyment of meeting up with many friends there, I’d rather curl up and read a book. After a hard teaching day, I often have to force myself to get out of the car and get my reluctant legs moving through the CURVES door, but I couldn’t stop now- I’d probably crack and crumble like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Women often follow their mother’s life pattern and appearance but not me. Mine gave up exercise in her 50’s when she learnt to drive; she hated salads and in her later years, ate her weight in cream cakes. Despite this, she managed to live an enjoyable life until she was 80 so I shall continue my regimen at CURVES and I will surely get way, way past that!

Amazing, really. I never thought I’d do it.


Wendy Macklin