Earlier this week I visited a new gym where I am considering training this winter when it gets too cold for the porch gym. Even though it’s a bit of a drive from my home, I was tempted to try it out, because of the weightlifting expertise of the coaches. After trying it out though, I decided to hold off on joining, for a couple reasons: parenting, and enjoyment of training. Both of these are high priorities for me, so it is important for me to balance these priorities with my weightlifting training.
While it’s true that I am more than “just a mom,” I AM a mom. Being a parent doesn’t mean I have to (or should) put my own priorities away, but I do have to balance them with raising my family.
While training there might help me improve as a weightlifter much faster, my gut says that it is not in my kiddo’s best interest at the moment. Due to the commute and the time spent training, it would eat up a large portion of my days off with my kiddo in the winter. And the coaches seem a little wary of having a kid there in general. Understandably so – for kiddo’s safety. However, I noticed that even when I was the only one training there, they still seemed nervous about him checking out equipment that wasn’t going to pose any safety issue to him.
Kiddo was super well behaved, for a 3 year old. I had brought his lunch, his toy barbell, and a coloring book and crayons with us. He tried to explore some kettlebells and dumbbells, but since the coach wasn’t okay with that, I told kiddo that he was to stay in this one area, and he had to ask the coach if he wanted to touch any of the equipment.
So….kiddo didn’t get us kicked out. That day at least. But, bringing him twice a week in the winter when he will likely have energy to burn? It seems like it will be stressful for all of us. And none of this is time sensitive, since in weightlifting years I am considered “old” and past my prime. I can certainly compete in masters, but that can wait. Right now I can progress more slowly if I need to. If needed it can even wait until my kid is school age. The important thing is that I enjoy moving my body and have a hobby that I enjoy. I need to balance that with my family’s needs, not prioritize one at the expense of the other.
Enjoying the Process
Additionally, there is the stress factor. I have no science to back this up, but I believe that if anything about your training ( or movement practice/exercise/fitness activity/whatever language you use) adds significant stress to your life, the benefits are diminished, you are less likely to enjoy it, and more likely to quit when life gets crazy. Especially if you are juggling many priorities, such as work and kids.
I am a huge fan of this video by Jeanette DePatie. I love the perspective she brings to finding a form of exercise that you love so much that you almost can’t help but stick with it. One of the tools she gives is the “fun inventory.” Using herself as an example, she lists the things that she finds fun in life. She loves to dance, be around a lot of other people, go to parties, host parties, read, travel, watch movies, and listen to music. Then she talks about how she used all of that information to come up with a form of exercise that is fun for her. And she has been doing it for over fifteen years!
Well, the social aspects of my fun inventory would probably read off as the opposite of Jeanette’s. I need a lot of downtime to recover from social interaction. When I exercise, I don’t like to focus a lot on other people. I like to focus inward and be alone with my thoughts. I don’t mind if there are other people in the room (such as at a gym), but I don’t like to focus on them or an instructor for any long period of time.
Knowing this, I question whether the weightlifting coach mentioned above would be a good fit for me. He was extremely hands on, which would have been great for my actual lifting technique….but if I don’t actually find my training enjoyable, then what’s the point? Weightlifting is a super technical sport and it is a great idea to work with a coach at least some of the time. But I have the impression that if I trained with this guy several times per week, I’d find myself a little irritated with all the direction.
So for right now, I’ll stay on my porch gym . In the meantime, I will trust that a good option will present itself in the next couple months before it gets cold. The gym where I currently train on Saturdays is super understanding and open about me bringing kiddo with me if I need to. They are also understanding of the fact that I have priorities that are different from a lot of their members, and they still make me feel welcome. They are available to answer questions I have and check form, but they are not in my face the whole time I am training. And they are close to my home! I’m still hoping they will add some mid-morning open gym hours in the winter, and if they do, we will almost certainly go that route.
Today, I am grateful to have developed enough self-awareness to notice all these things, and to balance my priorities.