The 10 Emotional Stages Of Having A Gym In Your Apartment Building
As a young adult, having a gym in my apartment building makes me feel — in an admittedly affected way — that I've "made it." As an idea, it gives me the sense of adulting (similar to that which I achieve when I responsibly opt to stay in on a Friday night or successfully cook my own dinner), but in practice, having a gym in your building incites a peculiar set of emotional stages that challenge your sense of adulthood every day.
My current apartment was a tremendous upgrade from my previous living accommodations. In part due to the fact that I share it with one person (a guy I call my boyfriend) rather than three other girls (and the guys they call their boyfriends) all competing for one bathroom. But also because it boasts superfluous comforts like a furnished rooftop, "yoga studio" (read: empty room with oversized letters spelling "Namaste" on the wall), and gym.
When signing the lease I was both enthusiastic and terrified. I had never in my post-grad life entered into the four figures when it came to rent, but I justified some of the extra costs by telling myself I was eliminating my monthly gym dues. This justification was paper thin, given that my gym dues were nominal by New York standards, coming in at $55 at my neighborhood Y. Seeing the fallacy in my calculations, I found myself inaccurately applying a cost per wear evaluation, determining my prospective use of building-gym to be far greater than my past use of the real-gym that was an avenue and a half away.
Almost a year later, I can tell you that I trekked that avenue and a half to the Y on more early mornings and late evenings and in inclement weather than I've even come close to stepping foot in my gym just downstairs. Instead of a battle to push myself another 10 minutes on the treadmill or wake up before 6 a.m. to subject myself to Gary's bootcamp (the Bed-Stuy Y's take on Barry's), I was in a perpetual battle with myself just to put on a sports bra and take the elevator downstairs.
Having a fully equipped gym just a few floors below posed a whole new set of challenges. It was always there and always open, so it was always easy to put off. With nearly every excuse not to go completely eliminated, I became a pro at coming up with every reason to skip. I never had to schedule time for the gym, so I ended up hardly ever going at all.
It didn't take long before it became clear that having a gym in my apartment building wasn't the empowering asset I expected it to be. Instead, it was a force to be reckoned with that, if not handled correctly, could take me on a ride through a series of non-linear emotional stages more exhausting than simply hitting the gym.
You just signed your lease and you're revved up to move into your new place. You can already imagine all the early morning workouts you'll be knocking out now that you don't even have to go outside to get to the gym.
You've finally unpacked and found your workout clothes, but maybe today isn't the day. You're still sore from moving boxes, so you decide it's best to let your body rest. Moving was stressful and you don't want to overexert yourself so soon after a big life change. You want your first workout experience in your new building to be just right, so you resolve to give it some time.
It's now been almost a month since you've moved in, and you still haven't stepped foot inside your gym since the real estate broker gave you that tour. Every time you enter and exit your building, you pass by the gym windows and are constantly reminded by the image of all the workout equipment you are not using. You concede you've put it off long enough, and decide to get into full beast mode, like maybe tomorrow.
You finally suit up, queue up your cardio playlist, and head down to the gym. You gingerly make your way in and consider what to tackle first. Playing it safe, you opt for the elliptical. The machine is broken and/or won't turn on, so you quickly side-step onto a treadmill. Just as you're picking up your stride, three guys of the bro variety enter and begin occupying the weight equipment to lounge and debrief about the weekend. You diligently complete a solid 10 minutes of a self-conscious jog and promptly exit.
Time has passed since the encounter where you realized that a building gym is equal parts less anonymous and more awkward than a real gym. Your fear of returning and enduring a similar experience persists, so you alleviate it with denial. You stood the entire subway commute home and you did a lot of walking this week, especially when your Uber parked two city blocks away Saturday night.
You decide to finally suck it up and go downstairs, only to perform an intense workout you didn't know you had in you. You find yourself in your building's gym giving it your all, just to make up for all the times you didn't make it and putting in that extra pint of power for all future days you might not make it again.
You leave the gym feeling beyond accomplished and also relieved. You're back in your room in seconds, rewarding yourself with a shower in your own bathroom. In your post-workout rapture you admit it wasn't all that bad, and could actually be something you could totally get used to.
After that successful session you're hooked. You pretty much own the building gym and when you decide to go you're there within minutes. You've established a routine and sleep well knowing that you're indubitably getting your bang for the buck.
It's not long before the novelty of gym-rat-you wears off and you've grown tired of choosing between one of the two ellipticals your building gym offers. Now when you make it down for a workout you find yourself envisioning the comforts of your apartment just a few floors above. When your hip feels a tinge of discomfort on mile three or you feel a tad parched, you fight the urge to forgo the drinking fountain and just head back up to your bed and Brita filter.
With time, courage, and a few nonlinear battles through the preceding stages, you ultimately reach acceptance. You're honest with yourself about your priorities when it comes to taking advantage of your building gym, and you've somehow found a workable balance that incorporates the facility just enough to assuage the negative emotions that arise when you completely forgo it. Sure, you don't always go when you say you will, but you're now wise enough to know that with a building gym, commitment ebbs and flows and it's all a part of a bigger picture — realizing that being imperfect but still satisfied is what real adulthood is all about.
Images: NBC, Giphy (11)