Heading to the gym

It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote I would be going out to run: rain or shine. The one weather element that I had forgotten about is the fierce wind that we often get here on the Front Range of Colorado in the winter. We have had some insanely windy days lately with gusts in the 60+ mph range. I can run in the cold and with all sorts of precipitation, but the wind is unbearable for me. It takes my breath away and blows sand in my eyes. After getting beat down by the wind on several runs, Doug and I decided it might be worthwhile to join a gym again so that we could work out on the bad weather days in more comfort.

Doug and I had joined gyms before and we always made good use of our memberships. They helped us stay motivated to work out. However, our memberships were always the first thing to get axed from the budget during financially hard times. Though money is tighter than ever with medical bills from last year’s health woes, I know that any dollars going into improving my post-op health and fitness are well spent and totally worth sacrifices in other areas.

Two weeks ago we toured a few gyms in our area and joined one that has a plethora of workout options. Running outdoors will always be my favorite after-work exercise activity. Beyond that though, I really like to mix it up. This gym has so much to offer that I have trouble deciding what I want to do on a given day. Yoga, aerobics classes, climbing on the wall, swimming and even ice skating on a huge rink are all options.

Swimming, climbing, yoga or ice skating... which should I do tonight?

The first thing I decided to do was the yoga class. I love yoga, but hadn’t practiced since my final UC flare and surgery. Even a year out, I still have a lot of post-op muscle tightness. I am hoping that doing yoga once a week will help restore some of my flexibility as well as get my posture back in line. I have taken two classes so far and it is going well. There are some poses that I find really difficult… especially anything with even a slight back bend.  And crazily I get twinges of belly pain when I lie flat in corpse pose which used to be my most comfortable pose ever. A friend suggested that perhaps it was due to scar tissue in my abdomen. I notice this mild pain when I lie flat on my back and do body scans for meditation too. I am hoping as I continue to stretch out through yoga, it resolves. Regardless of how my body is feeling on a given day, I practice yoga to the best of my ability and make modifications as needed.

I have also been swimming at the gym once a week. I usually start with a 10 minute soak in the hot tub and then swim laps for 30-40 minutes, ending with another 10 minute soak in the hot tub. I also always take a few trips down the indoor water slides to end my workout session. I have no issues with my wafers coming loose with swimming and still get my normal 3-4 day wear time.

I even tried a new aerobic class for me called Zumba. I have absolutely no dancing talent and it was really hard following the moves of the instructor, but I didn’t care. It was just fun to be dancing around to the upbeat music and pretending that I knew what I was doing. I think I am hooked.

In the next week or so I want to get on the weight machines, do some ice skating and try out the climbing wall. Doug and I usually head to a separate, much larger climbing gym every week or so, but it will be nice to use this smaller wall in between those visits.

One interesting thing about going to the gym is the subject of changing in the locker room. Usually I change at home or before I leave work and wear my workout clothes to the gym.  However, there are times when this isn’t convenient, or I need to change out of a wet swimsuit. Over the past two weeks, I have made great strides in being more comfortable with the possibility of others seeing my pouch. At first, I would change in the shower stall, but I hated it because it is damp in there and it was hard not to get my clothing wet. Recently, I have just been changing out in the open, but being discreet by facing the locker doors. Another technique that works is to change my top first and then pull it down to cover my ostomy pouch as I change my bottoms. Still, I have decided I don’t care if anyone catches a glimpse of my appliance. Maybe sometime down the road the person who saw it will end up knowing someone who is facing ostomy surgery. Perhaps they will think back and say hey, I saw a woman who had one of those at the gym and it seemed like she was confident with it.

A second item of note is that I signed up for a free personal training session. I had to fill out a medical form, and I was very open about my ostomy on it. I am still waiting for a call from the trainer and am curious to see how it will work out and if they will have ostomy-related questions or if they will have good suggestions for workout modifications at this point, especially with my abdominal muscles.

So overall, I am super excited about all the potential this gym has for my health and for taking things to the next level in my fitness goals.