Watch the vlog for ‘Joining the gym at 50 and thong knickers’ on YouTube!
This article is all about joining a gym at a mature age – I’m not a spring chicken anymore:)
I’m 49 but I may as well be 50.
I used to go to a gym but I started running and dancing so I stopped going, I wish I hadn’t. I also wish I could bend like a pretzel just like lucky Lydia in the picture – she doesn’t have a muffin top or bat wings! Lydia most probably lives off carrot sticks instead of carrot cake, unlike me. Perhaps she just drinks slimline tonic, whereas I like a big splash of gin in mine! I guess my goal should be to look like Lydia but unless I have my mouth wired up and there is a world shortage of wine and gin – it’s not going to happen.
Why did I join the gym again?
To start with, there’s a little bit of a middle-aged spread creeping in:). The other reason is the fact that I have hung up my running and dancing shoes, my knees and back can’t take it anymore, the pain and twinging became too much and I was doing myself more harm than good.
It was a sad day when I had to stop running and dancing – I finally had to admit defeat. Now, when I go to the gym, I do particular exercises that are strengthening my weak areas – my knees are stronger and my back doesn’t hurt anymore.
Did you say something?
I love to be sociable at the gym, however, most people wear headphones now, occasionally they take them off briefly and make polite conversation. In contrast, sometimes I get stuck talking to people who literally go to the gym just to talk. They normally know someone who does everything, they can help you with anything and they want to know all the gossip.
Whilst it’s slightly annoying sometimes, it’s good to talk to people from all different walks of life. A lot of people that you would never normally mix with.
Here are my top tips and comments for joining a gym when you are of a mature age…
- What should you wear?
People generally seem to make an effort to look tidy and fit in my gym even if they don’t like the way they look. I admire the larger women that wear the leggings with jelly bean shapes on instead of opting for the slimming black leggings. I’m impressed by the women in their matching M&S workout tops and bottoms that are for women my age and upwards.
I smile at the very fit and slim looking young ladies in their skimpy vest tops revealing their defined mid-drifts and walking around proudly showing off their tight bottoms and slender thighs. I was like that once. I don’t feel jealous, I just look at them and think ‘you’ve got to have babies yet and eat 30 years of carrot cake!’
The carrot cake midriff…
I always wear my comfortable leggings and simple fit sports t-shirt – age appropriate of course. If I have a slim day I will wear a vest top but never showing my carrot cake midriff!
- What should you have with you when you go to the gym?
Initially, when I joined the gym, I carried around a little sports bag which became a danger hazard and embarrassing when I forgot to take it to my next workout station. Inside the little bag were my reading glasses because of my ageing eyes, two little towels, my water bottle, my locker key, my A4 pieces of paper with the exercises on that the gym instructor had given me, my headphones, my electronic key to use on the resistance machines, my purse because I didn’t want to leave it in my locker and my membership card because I would have to pay £5 if I lost it.
Now I leave the bag behind in one of the lockers, I looked so uncool with that little bag. As a result, I have to juggle everything in my hands, minus my purse which I leave at home. I only used to take it with me so I could buy a coffee and a muffin when I came out of the gym but I realised that was defeating the object and stopped
- Why where thong knickers?
I haven’t worn a thong for quite a few years now. When I was younger it didn’t bother me having a string between my butt cheeks but now I’m concerned it might cut off my circulation if I wear it for too long. Since I’ve joined the gym I had to resort to wearing a thong because the workout leggings I wear are so tight the VPL is ridiculous so I can’t wear normal knickers. Especially when I am bobbing up and down on the cross-trainer where my derriere is on full show (I’m not happy about that).
It is such a relief when I get home and undress to go in the shower, I get to peel out the thong from between my butt cheeks, it is a very satisfying feeling
- The midriff ripples
Remember the days when people used to say ‘if you can pinch more than an inch you’re overweight’?
I can pinch more than an inch now, I never could, but now – I can pinch a couple of inches. Whilst a lot of the leggings and fitted tops look smart and sometimes flattering, some tend to push those extra inches into other areas where you don’t want them to be. For example:
- The bottom area – this brings me back to the uncomfortable thong again and the VPL. You do see some women who wear the ‘suck everything in knickers’ and puffs of fat bulge out from the knicker seam – I don’t want that
- The midriff – I am guilty of the following, I sit on a muscle toning machine and slouch during rest periods and as I look down I see an extra tyre defined nicely as my lycra top tries really hard to suck everything in for me. Sometimes I don’t expect to see it and it’s alarming!
- The post ‘full hysterectomy doorstep tummy’ – I hate it, every time I put my knickers on, I have to tuck in my little doorstep. My tummy started to protrude quite a lot when I had my large fibroid and once it was all taken away I was left with stretched skin. In my youth, the skin would have tightened up but the surgeon had to cut through my lower tummy muscles etc so I don’t have the strength that I used to have in the muscles and tendons in that area. It’s all very numb down there now and I can only plank for one shakey minute
- How going to the gym makes me feel and you could feel like it too…
When I come out of the gym I always feel great. I work hard so I look nothing at all what I looked like when I went in. My hair is dishevelled, my makeup is all over my workout towel, my clothes are sticking to me and my thong is well and truly lodged into my butt cheeks.
I have to say, it’s not great using fitness machines that other people have dripped their sweat over. I love going home, jumping in the shower and removing all traces of mine and other people’s sweat off my body.
It’s a gross thought, I know…
- Water and hydration…
We all know the importance of water and hydration. During and after my cardio sessions on the cross-trainer, treadmill or bike I’m normally halfway through a bottle of water.
The difficulty is drinking from the sports bottle without it making the squelching noise in between each hit. Then making sure you don’t leave a sweating saliva string from the tip of the bottle to your mouth each time you withdraw from drinking. Watch out for leakage, getting the angle right when storing your sports bottles in the holders on the different machines is important especially if you don’t put the lid on properly. I have looked down before and seen the contents of my bottle leaking over the machine
- The younger generation…
I’m impressed by the younger generation in my gym – on the weekends it’s lovely to see the parent and child combo.
The children that use the gym have to be of a certain age before they can do any weight-bearing exercises so the young ones just go on the cardio machines.
The teenage boys come in the gym with their baggy shorts and t-shirts on and the girls come in wearing their leggings and inappropriate footwear – playing on their phones and doing what teenagers do. The young adults appear to take things seriously, there are the men who work really hard, eat the right diet, drink the protein shakes and pose in the mirror. They walk around the gym with their arms slightly out to the side trying to make their backs look wider than they actually are. Then there are the overweight young ladies that come to the gym late at night and work hard pounding away on the treadmill with their headphones on, not distracted by time wasters and starring at their efforts. The determination is written all over their faces – it’s admirable
**An interesting observation…
In my gym, it is evident that the more perfect you are the less sociable you are.
- The older generation…
I love the older generation – we have a man that comes into the gym in a shirt and tie with a tank top on and he sits on the machines with great posture and looking like a real gent.
The older women bring their books and plant themselves on a stationary bike – cycling at a pace that allows them to read chapter after chapter and some of them carry around a bottle of antibacterial gel which they use every time they get on or off a machine. Some come with a friend and talk non stop, others just shuffle around uncomfortably overly conscious of their bat wings and muffin tops
- What about the equipment?
The workout machines have changed a lot since the last time I went to a gym. All the cardio machines have touch screens and you can surf the net or watch TV. As gym users, we also have an electronic key that we have to slot into the machines so it can measure our performance.
There are the free weights, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, balls, balance balls and step up boxes. In one corner there is a machine that I will never use – it tells you your weight and lots of other things about your body, things that I would rather not know.
Sometimes I stick to the exercise programme that was designed for me by the gym instructors and sometimes I’m bold enough to try a different machine that looks a little bit challenging
- Mirror, mirror on the wall…
Thankfully they don’t have any mirrors in the section of the gym that I use. Unfortunately, they have a big one inside the changing rooms and you can’t help but see yourself in as you go through the door and into the gym.
Working out in the gym isn’t all about what you look like in the mirror. If you achieve your goal weight, size and look fab then that’s awesome, good for you – but it’s also about your well being inside your body and mental state.
Working out gives you a boost of endorphins and relieves stress, I always feel great when I finish my workout. It is really good ‘thinking time’ for me – I sometimes come up with the best ideas when I’m on the treadmill
- The instructors…
Nowadays gym instructors come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s no longer a case of feeling intimidated by a busty blonde with rippling abs, in my gym, there are men and women of different builds. I don’t know if it is like it in all gyms but my instructors appear to spend a lot of time on their phones, talking to coworkers or they go missing. Thankfully there is a ‘panic button’ on the wall.
**Times have changed and I truly believe that soon, those little screens on the fitness equipment where we can watch tv or surf the net will house our own personal instructors telling us what to do and how to do it
- Gym programs…
**The induction conversation…
‘What areas of your body do you want to focus on Rachel?’ The young handsome gym instructor asked me.
‘Everything – bat wings, abdominals even though my operation has obliterated them, my buttocks to keep my peachy bum.’ I replied, hoping he had some magic power and could make it happen with minimal effort.
‘Here are your programs, there are two so you can alternate them each time you come to the gym.’ The young handsome gym instructor told me
Of course, I stuck to the programs that were designed for me and I wandered around the gym on my own trying to suss out the machines that scared me to start with. Clutching my A4 piece of paper with sets, reps and images on and finding what worked best for me and my body.
- Why should you join the gym?
**Massive health benefits
**Increase energy levels
**Give yourself a challenge
**Motivation to do something
**Get into a healthy routine
**Build your knowledge
**Introduce more routine into your life
**Meet more people
Anyone can join a gym but there may be some restrictions depending on your age and state of health. If you’ve never done exercise before I strongly advise that you speak to your doctor before you start a new fitness regime. They will most probably ask you some questions and advise you on the best form of exercise for you and your fitness level.
When I lived in America, my local gym was used by people with serious health issues. They were monitored and supervised – the patients were people with organ problems such as the heart or lungs, some had injuries, arthritis or mental health issues. It was really interesting watching people’s progress – it really inspired me, it made me realise how valuable life actually is.
Look after your health and be happy, we only get one shot at life.