My new workout cycle is heavier in free weights than the last one was so for the next three months I will be spending half of my workout in the non-machine section of the gym. This is not where my comfort zone is. On the machines I can sort of figure things out. Work my way through them. Watch a YouTube video if I need to (which I totally needed to for one of them) and move along my merry way. The free weight section is for the "serious" gym goers. The muscle heads. The So Hot girls. The people who are really fit. Not the middle aged stay at home retired women. That's the water aerobics class that I also don't do but anyway...
It makes me feel more than a little out of my element each time I step over to that section and scout out a bench and some weights. Like at any point someone is going to come up and ask me to leave. That I should probably go back to the machines where I obviously would be more comfortable. And honestly I would. But that's not the program I'm on for the next three months. That was the program I was on for the last three months (with one free weight section that I got around by doing it in the classroom space when no one was there).
Then today as I was doing "Standing biceps curls with barbell" one of the women that works out A LOT was watching me. She's an older lady but it took literal months before I realized that she had to be pushing mid-sixties because she is so fit. So anyway she's watching me and comes over to say something and I'm bracing myself for the "you are so doing that wrong" or "you should leave now" and she says, "I have been wanting to tell you for ages that you have great arms." I laughed that self deprecating I don't really believe you laugh and said, "Thanks." She wasn't buying it. "No, really, I watch you do the lat pull downs and wish I could get that line" and here she pointed to her arm, her incredibly fit but lacking in a full biceps muscle belly arm, "but I just can't."
I smiled at her and told her thank you again and then told her, "That really helps keep me motivated. You are in great shape and that means a lot." And then felt really awkward because I had just basically admitted to checking her out. Which I totally have. I check out everyone in the gym. And give them all really interesting back stories, because of course I do. Then because when you are feeling awkward the best thing to do is just keep talking I said, "Mostly it's genetics. How your muscle fibers are. I have decent arms, they respond well to work outs. My arms, abs and back will always show my progress while my legs just sort of are. I have thicker muscle bellies so I will never get that lovely long and lean look that ballet dancers have. Though I tried for a long time." She told me that she understood completely, she had worked for years to get a six pack and it just wouldn't happen. But she decided that being the best she could be was good enough. I then admitted to her that I decide that too, about 4 times a year, and one of these times I was sure it was going to stick. She laughed and then we went back to our work outs.
And I looked at my arms while I did my second set of biceps curls and thought, "Okay, I belong over here too."
Which lasted right up until swiss curls for triceps where I longed for my machines again...
It's impostor syndrome in the gym. I work out. A lot. Five days a week. Which to be fair was a step up 3 months ago when I started this new system. Before that it was three days a week. And two days at home. But I don't feel like a "gym person." I am never going to be one of those people that loves working out. I love cake. I love tortillas. I love cheese. I love to walk without my knees calling me names. So I work out. It's preventative, for the arthritis and for the cake belly. But it's not something I love to do. But I do it. Consistently. So doesn't that make me a "gym person?"
Where is that line where you really feel like you know what you are doing? When you own what you are and what you do? I haven't found it yet. Not at the gym. Not with writing, (I have been getting better about calling myself a writer but there is still A LOT of internal side eye happening). I never got there with advertising, even when I was handling millions of dollars in business. There is always this piece of me that is pretty sure at some point everyone is going to figure out that I am in way over my head and just making it all up as I go along.
And then when I talk to other people about it, I find out that they feel the same way. That a good portion of us are working our way through life by the seat of our pants. Just winging it day to day. Even the things we are experts in (from the outside) we are just waiting to be told, "you're doing it wrong, you probably should move over and let the real adults take over now." Which probably makes us all better at what we do, right? I mean I worked hard at my advertising job because I was sure I was in too deep and needed to constantly work to be good enough, which then ended up making me really good at it. I write more now because I want to be thought of as a writer and not a "writer" so I try to make sure I put words on the screen more days than not. And I plan my workouts and keep at them to keep from being asked to go....just please go. So at some level I really am all of those things, right?
So here's to all of the fakers, the impostors, the seat of the pantsers! Keep doing what you are doing, I swear you look like a natural to me!