Surviving the gym

So I have been recently making some new health commitments, including Vegan Before Six and visiting the gym regularly (the aim is 4 times a week) and for an enby the gym has some unique challenges.

So I have had a gym membership for a while, and at the start I aimed to do zombies run 5k training something I’ve attempted about 3 times now, and never finished… ah well one day. So a few weeks later I fell off the bandwagon. and from there attempted to go once a week, but as someone who has no motivation, no plan and doesn’t like physical activity (I have a blog) that didnt last long, and there had been about a 6+ week gap since my last visit, I had come down with a virus, bla bla all the excuses.

I needed a plan, I needed motivation, I for some reason (that I worked out later) didn’t want to use any of my personal trainer sessions. So I went where anyone with a blog and no friends who like sport go, the internet. and I had the worst bout of dysphoria I had had in a long time, maybe the worst considering I was at home, alone. Why?

Because health and fitness are some of the most gendered things. Men and women even get their own magazines

and there is this implicit gendered attitude to health and fitness, maybe it stems from males and females having different healthy body fat ranges, waist measurements, BMI, caloric intake, strengths and so on, and then the perceived aesthetic differences, like men want muscle and women want tone.

I don’t fit this, I’m not sure that 100% cis people people fit this either, but thats the system. It’s a default setting used so personal trainers can work out routines that fit you in under an hour, people can sell magazines and blogs can get hits. Even the few trans* fitness blogs don’t tend to help much, as they are often talking about how to work out while not getting masculine looking if you’re a trans* woman and how to get big if you’re a trans* man. And I guess that’s why I didn’t want to see the personal trainer. I didn’t want to address the system and accuse this stranger of gendering me and that then affecting their work as a personal trainer, or getting a routine that doesn’t fit me

So hey, I thought I would post a few resources for designing your own workout, and some tips:

particularly if you have a membership rather than a per visit payment then you can visit your gym, not to work out, but to try the machines and ask questions to the staff, from there you can work out what you like.

Once you work out what you like, you can construct a list, of goals, stuff you like, stuff you never will do, how much time you have and so on.

From there there are lots of sites that have workout plans and guides, if you’re feeling vulnerable, avoid searching for things like “make your own workout routine” google delivered me to lots of pages that made me pick a gender and didn’t give me anything until I did. 

Variation is your friend, if you want to do 30 minutes cardio, try running/walking, cycling, and the cross trainer (or the step machine, rowing and so on) this breaks down your workout so you think in terms of, just 3 more minutes on the treadmill, rather than getting bored at the 7 minute mark with no end in sight. boredom kills motivation.

If you are getting bored change stuff up, even if its been 2 weeks, if gym already feels like a grind then maybe you could change the order of things, or switch your machine assisted situps for inclined sit ups or even start again and re-plan, whatever gets you back in the gym.

If you a worried about your routine, that its not safe or might not be balanced then ask for help, if you’re fit and have no health concerns a gym staff member looking over your routine might help, or going to your GP particularly if you have pre-existing health concerns. As a rule of thumb if it hurts, literally anything, then stop immediately and talk to a professional before doing the same thing again.

and finally, a reminder, I have no qualifications in health or fitness, you should really talk to your GP before starting any new exercise routine and this is no substitute for a GP or personal trainer’s guidance. I just want to kill any barriers trans* people might have to working out. 





2 thoughts on “Surviving the gym

  1. You offer good advice. I’d add that managing dysphoria at the gym is harder than working out. I wear loose fitting T’s and shorts, a good sports bra (can’t work out in a binder), and sneakers I like so that I feel comfortable. I try to go at the same time on the same days, just like an appointment with my therapist (sometimes better than my therapist). This is both so that I go, and then it is my time and I belong there. The other “regulars” know me by sight, and that makes me feel a little more at home (even if they think of me as the middle aged butch with hairy legs, I don’t care).
    Lastly, I only compete against myself using weights, I try not to compare how much I’m lifting to anyone else. However, I am a maniac about good form and trying to lift properly – and I do notice good form and bad form at the gym. Good form is both safe and impressive (even with low weights) and shows that you know what you are doing. I’d advise using your free sessions to show you how to do the basic free weight moves with good form; most trainers use the free sessions to try to get you to sign up for paid ones. Good luck.

    • I manage to work out in a binder and I find gym dysphoria the same as all dysphoria due to going out, so I didn’t really think about those but I’m super happy you did and have commented here about them!
      I think all individuals should be only competing with themselves and good form is a must, often it takes practice with an exercise and confidence to get that form.
      as I noted in my post, the though of seeing the trainer was actually dysphoric for me, so I guess I didn’t take into account that it might not for some.
      As always, thank you for your comments Jamie (I actually think you comment made my post better xD)


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