by Raquel Gilkes

Everyone knows that as part of any special attention to your health and fitness you must incorporate some sort of exercise routine into your week, everyone is suitably vague on what exactly you need to do or even why. Nevertheless, it is understood that this is vitally important.

Therefore, I decided that I must join a gym. I picked a gym, cheerfully handed over my subscriptions, took the orientation tour and ignored it for a few months.

After getting accustomed to life without fries, I bought a skipping rope to ‘get in the groove’ so to speak. In short order, I discovered that jumping was not my superpower. I couldn’t skip past three, after which I needed to have a lie down with a cool compress on my forehead and maybe a snack. My exercise plan was not getting off to a stellar start, and I needed some help, perhaps I should give the nice people from the gym a second chance.

I was terrified of gyms.

There is no other way to describe it. Even before I got to the gym, there was the ordeal of shopping for workout clothes. Can we talk a little about why people who are size 26 need workout clothes too? Retailers in Barbados seem to be firmly of the belief that only people who are size three ever want workout clothes. One would think that it would occur to them that persons who are larger would need workout clothes more than anyone else; but nooooo, all they ever stock is size 0. T-shirts and sweat pants it is. Already things were looking grim.

Then there was the gym itself. That orientation tour had not reassured me in any way. Everyone looked sleek and sculpted; they were so perfect looking that I knew I could never fit in. I would be too self-conscious blundering around among these celestial bodies. I’m generally clumsy, so I worried about what would happen if I broke a machine or dropped a weight on someone. Then there was the embarrassment when my body weight exceeded the machine’s weight allowance (Oh dear, I’m too fat to use the gym). The whole thing was too traumatizing. Now I had to go back.

So I steeled my strength and went back to start my exercise regime. Surprisingly it was relatively painless. I booked a session with a trainer who talked to me about my goals. She said that I should write down realistic goals, ‘you will not be able to model for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in two months, so don’t expect that’ she joked. Haha, model indeed, I just wanted to see my own toes.

I managed almost two minutes on the stationary bicycle; I figured out how the make the cross training machine work, and no one had so much as snickered when I fell off the Stairmaster. In fact everyone was really nice and welcoming and I shed my awkwardness in a few minutes. Also, I was delighted to find that my diet had resulted in enough weight loss that I was no longer over the limit for the machines.

Feeling a bit more confident I ventured into the beginners aerobics class. They do it like a dance, the positions have strange names that bear no relation to what you are supposed to be doing with your body, and everybody knows what to do. Here we will just draw a quiet veil over that episode, because the less said about it the better. Sufficed to say that I’m choreographically challenged and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when I decided that one-one training was the best option for me.

I put myself entirely into her hands while I continued to work on my diet at home. One day I found some lovely eggplants being sold very cheaply. I have since discovered that they are mostly quite reasonably priced all year round. Eggplant is a low calorie food full of vitamin C, calcium and potassium, but very low in carbohydrates and combines well with cheese so they made a failing post workout meal. Eggplants have become a staple in my pantry.

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