29 February 2024

Adventures of a reluctant gym bunny who overcame 'Everest'

| Kellie O'Brien
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joining a gym

Essentials on my journey to rejoining the gym – a towel for mopping up the sweat from the red light therapy and a drink after a long massage. Photo: Kellie O’Brien.

After 20 years, I’ve rediscovered something that always made my heart race and my knees weak for reasons other than exertion … the gym.

In all honesty, I’m about as far from being a gym bunny as Nigella Lawson is from being an advocate on the perils of eating sugar.

You see, as a young, eager 20-something, full of dreams and aspirations, I decided to embark on a quest for fitness by joining a gym.

This was the late 90s when the main focus of fitness fanatics was on aerobics classes, or as my dear old pop used to call them, “jazzercises”.

It was a time when we all wanted to dress in fluro leotards and leggings like Effie on Aerobics Oz Style.

But that dream came crashing down, literally, during my last foray into the gym world, some 20-plus years ago.

It was a fateful day indeed when I found myself in a step aerobics class, where we learned about life’s ups and downs. Despite getting good blood flow to the brain, gym owners seemingly lack imagination and “step classes” are simply stepping up and down on a wooden box.

All was going well until the military-like instructor, with a flourish of her hand, commanded us to stow away our steps at the back of the room.

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There I was, barely reaching five feet in height (even on tippy toes, no joke), trying to haul my step onto what had become an Everest-sized pile before my very eyes.

Just as I managed to get my step above my head, the entire stack of steps came toppling down on top of me like an ergonomic avalanche.

Needless to say, that disaster marked the abrupt end of my aerobic endeavours.

Fast forward to the present day, and I find myself once again standing at the threshold of a gymnasium, ready to brave the machines that my younger self would have deemed more fitting for a horror movie where the monster straps his tortured soul to and carves them into tiny pieces.

Gone are the jazzercises and wooden steps, replaced by rows upon rows of contraptions that promise to sculpt and tone, which we all know mask their true intentions. Evil, pain-inducing machines.

However, I’m not without motivation in this brave new world of fitness.

And I’m not talking about my favourite machine at the gym, the television, which seems to always be showing cooking shows with decadent chocolate mud cake and cream-filled meringues.

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For nestled amid the machinery of horror lies a door into a treasure trove of pleasurable amenities that would make even the most reluctant gym-goer giddy.

A spray tan machine! Red light therapy booth! Massage chairs! Wellness pods! Hydromassage beds!

When did the gym become fun? Like, actual fun! Who knew.

Who needs endorphins when you can have a post-workout glow and a relaxing massage.

Or maybe I just skip the workout bit altogether.

So, as I embark on this new chapter of my fitness journey, I do so with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, armed with the knowledge that no matter how many machines I may accidentally activate or treadmills that send me hurling across the room, there will at least be a soothing massage bed waiting for me at the end of it all.

Until then, may you stay fit, stay fabulous, and never underestimate the power of a good spray tan.

Original Article published by Kellie O’Brien on Region Illawarra.

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