My Life at the Gym: Answering Your Questions

I have been asked to give an update and little more information about my experience with my gym.  For those long time readers, please be patient while I share a little background you may have read before. I will try to answer all of the questions I have been asked on this subject.

Sad, but true, I did not enter a gym for me (and not a child’s sports) until right before I turned 60.  I have been going now, off and on, for five years.  When I began I had no balance, could not push up off the floor, could not do a sit up, and had been recently diagnosed in the beginning stages of osteoporosis.  I wish so much I had started working out earlier, but I am really glad that I did not let age stop me from finally starting.  I completely believe that if I had begun earlier I would not have dealt with a few major challenges over the past five years, however, the results have been impressive.

Here are the questions a few of you have asked:

  1. Is it worth the money to get a trainer? For me, it was worth every penny!  I began my gym experience with a group of ladies (all close to the same ages) who wanted to split the cost of a trainer and learn how to work out.  I needed his teaching about equipment, his teaching about warm ups, his encouragement, and knowledge.  He did not allow me to do too much and his gentle prodding, as well as that of the other ladies took me further than I would have gone on my own.  He would not allow me to say, “I can’t do that.”  He helped me to understand why weight training is so necessary for bone strength. I know gyms can be intimidating and that it is easy to get discouraged watching even people in our own age group doing more than we think we are capable of, so beginning with a trainer and small group took my eyes off others…there was no time for comparisons.  I still work with trainers but they have been instructors in classes I attend at the gym.  Splitting a trainer is a great way to go.  Also, one of these ladies still works out with me and her support has been vital to keeping me active.

  1. You write about injuries. Did they happen with the trainer? Absolutely not.  Though I started the gym for health reasons, I also hoped to lose weight.  One night I turned on that show, THE BIGGEST LOSER, and though I had never watched it before, I was captivated with the workouts the contestants were being put through.  That week, I got on the treadmill, raised the incline, and the speed and took off…the results was severe muscle strain in my hip.  My trainer was actually very annoyed with me.  But, that was the first time I had to take some time off.  The moral of this part of the story is do not do too much too fast.

The next time I had to take a leave has been from August 29-December, when my cat ran at my ankles and knocked me into a wall shoulder first.  That resulted in a severe muscle strain in my shoulder which has taken longer to recover from than the hip.  The saddest thing about the last injury is that I was at my highest level of working out and lifting weights…I was feeling and looking my best.  In the area of weight lifting with my arms, I am now almost back at the beginning.  But at least I am back.  Please note the ER doctor said the shoulder injury would have been much worse if I had not been lifting weights.

No matter what keeps you down, remember to always get back up again.  I let that phrase, USE IT OR LOSE IT, ring in my head.

  1. What do you take to the gym? I am very blessed to have a wonderful YMCA just down the street from where I live, so I take only a water bottle and me.  I get up around 4:15AM (You read it right), and after a little grooming and getting dressed, I go through a series of stretches I have learned over time which are mostly to prepare my hips (here I use a roller, and hand-held roller for my prep work) and then I am at the gym when they open at 5AM.  I have a 5:15AM Weight class two days a week, and I am trying now to return to three days of treadmill work.  Then I go home to shower and get ready for work because it is so close.  I stay true to this schedule because that is where my workout friends are and they have been critical to helping me in so many ways.  It also gets me mentally prepared and ready for the day.  I think I am more productive because I go in the morning.
  2. Do you do anything at home? As I said, I do stretch, but occasionally I will do small workouts.  I own a 10 pound medicine ball, and some small weights.  I plan to purchase a 15 or 20 pound kettlebell for home soon.  I am started back with lower weight since the shoulder is still in recovery.

The results have been amazing, even with sabbaticals around the injuries.  My doctor had told me I was headed toward medication for the Osteoporosis, but my bones have strengthened so much I have not needed it.  The last two bone scans showed marked improvement.  I feel better (feelin’ 40, right?) and I sleep better when I work out.  There is literally a spring in my step.  The times I have paired a better diet with the workouts, I have lost weight.  I have avoided falls because I was able to catch myself with stronger legs.


If you have any other questions, please ask.  I know many of you are workout superstars, but this is really for those either beginning or thinking about it.  Stop thinking and just go!  I am the comic relief at the gym…I laugh at myself a lot….so go with a good attitude and


Note:  Some of these images are from my local Marshalls.  They have a new active women’s department, and it was stocked with top brands in clothing and equipment.  I also put some fun finds in the slide show below!



  1. Very helpful, thank you for covering this topic. I also live within minutes of the center I go to, and I take water and my locker lock! I see people coming in with large backpacks and large gym bags and have wondered why they need so much stuff! I also shower at home, so that might be why some are taking more than I am. Being an early riser, like you, it’s been a great way to kick-start the days. I like how there is a choice to be with a group, or if I prefer, I can walk the track or row and have some time to think and be quiet. It is long overdue for me Pam, due to a recent nerve problem, but now I’m excited to take care of the body that God has so graciously given me! How wonderful that you have that supportive group to encourage each other! It was good to see what the ER doctor told you about weights. This year can be our best year ever!

  2. I am not a “workout superstar” lol, but I’ve had a journey remarkably similar to yours. When bad habits caught up with us 7 years ago and my husband had a heart attack, he started at cardio rehab and I started with balance exercises and the stationary bike. We joined Planet Fitness, a “no judgment” national franchise that offers free trainers, and the whole thing costs $10 a month. It was an absolutely game changing experience. We are now at a gym that has a pool and free yoga, but I can’t recommend PF enough. Nobody is allowed to grunt loudly or otherwise show off (they call it a lunk alarm and play a siren when someone does!). Also, the high school basketball coach recommends the elliptical instead of the treadmill, which he says is too hard on the feet. After doing so many years on the treadmill, I find I get a better workout with less body stress, with the treadmill or arc trainer. All that said, whatever works, just do it. This is a case where too many choices and conflicting info can cause excuses and procrastination. Sign up somewhere, get a trainer so you don’t hurt yourself, and schedule it in like it’s a doctors appointment … because it really is that important. My body and my life have changed profoundly, I no longer fear falling, my sleep is far better, and my old age feels secure. My husband just had his third stress test, and he is doing great. Everyone can and should work out at some level, and it truly is never too late. The best time to begin was 25 years ago, but the second best time to start is today.

  3. Yes! You are right…the best time to start is today! Thanks for that, Linda. I do have to say, though, that while I am sure Planet Fitness is a great place, I do not get at all the NO JUDGEMENT campaign. (and I am in marketing). I spend time around two gyms, YMCA and Lifestime Fitness, and I have never felt judged in eight place for anything. They have made me feel nothing but welcome. I think our fears of the gym cause us some times to believe we will be judged and to hold back. But, like you said, there is no time like the present to get started and there are great people in many gyms everywhere ready to help us out.

  4. I am an avid gardener in Michigan and have the winter “off.” But I maintain an exercise program of biking and treadmilling to stay in shape until spring gardening rolls around. This helps avoid muscle strains. Thanks for the post.

  5. I joined Planet Fitness in September and, like Linda above, can’t recommend it enough!! I go to three classes a week (included in the $10/month) two of which are very early (6am). I’m lucky that I live nearby so I can shower/change at home before work. I’ve met a great group folks my age which is a real motivator.

    Your fitness posts have been so helpful, Pam. I sure appreciate your honesty and find it so motivating! Thank you!

  6. I’m not a morning person but I see the value of exercising in the morning. Can I ask what time you go to bed at night since 4:15am is very, very early.

  7. Hi Connie, I try to be in bed between 8:30 and 9 every night. I am pretty programmed now to get sleepy around that time and to often wake up without an alarm!

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