Dear Gym, (part 2)

The gym’s not top of my list. But it’s a place to go during this Winter pregnancy – and my heart needs it

Pregnant woman on a gym treadmill

Pregnant woman on a treadmill. An indoor stroll. Whoops! Still got to concentrate © Laura Eades 2014

It’s me again. I know. As I promised in my letter earlier this week, I’m still thinking about you, you know. Just don’t want you to get the idea that just because I’m not in you, you’re not worth visiting. I really do want to see you. I do.

Whiszch, whiszch

Can you hear me, Gym, above the noise? Above the treadmills, the whiszching crosstrainers, the tzzzng strings of the rowing machines, the panting, the crackle of lycra static as buttocks rub together, the squirt of disinfectant getting rubbed on the keypads after use (this is Germany), the thunk! of water bottles delivered into the bottom jaw of the vending machines, the pop pop pop pop of the pop music? Sorry, what did you say? I’ve got my headphones in.

My heart’s work

I know I might be overdoing it here but I really am glad of you, Gym. I just want to speak the positive and say my gratitude, all of it. All of what is in my heart during this pregnancy. All of what my heart is doing.

The bloodflow I’m sending to the unborn baby I’m carrying is, I’m told, a little low. And if it weren’t for you, Gym, I’d probably just lie in bed… and my heart would pump some old stagnant blood through eventually like the sludge from the bottom of the tomato juice carton. (That’s what you get if you get the one that says ‘made from concentrate’, or if you can’t read German to tell what the hell the carton says). So thank you for being pumping.

Thank you, Gym, for looking after my heart.

This is a gratitude marathon

So I don’t want to overegg the pudding, but I’ve got a couple more aspects to just – You know what? Let’s just really do this. Let’s not give up the gratitude marathon, let’s brusquely walk uphill breathing very deeply all the way to the finish line.

Thanks for having the two windows that open. They are literally a benediction. I mean, I don’t want to be outside, I want to be indoors, I just really really want those two windows open. Like that, it’s perfect. When a lorry goes past and I’m on the treadmill – well, it’s the only thing keeping me going sometimes, the hope that one of those traffic gusts will boost me along. It’s like: aaah. Cool air.

The pop pop pop of the pop music

And. Thank you for the music. The simple, repetitive music. Take me awayyyyyyy, on your wave of beatz.

When I’ve set the programme to Profile, which makes a series of small molehills on the monitor, and I’m nearing the top of one of the hills and all I can think about is how much I want to stop the elastic of my white terraline sports sock from itching my sweaty calf. And then –

BAM! It’s daft punk’s Around the World, and before I know it I’m pressing the + button repeatedly bip bip bip bip bip bippibipbipbipb to make the incline really steep because I’ve got so much extra motivation and energy to just, keep walking up this conveyor belt slope with a baby in my belly. And I’m not even thinking about my sock anymore! How do you do that to me?

You’ve got the data

And above all, cheers for the encouragement: 72 calories used, thanks that’s good to know! It’s something! Your precision is empowering. I’m happy to know what’s happening in my mysterious pregnant body. You just don’t get that kind of access to data when you’ve gingerly ventured round the park (slippery; windburn like a facelift gone wrong) or stomped in your hiking boots up the stairs to the gynecologist’s second-floor practice. I think you use a lot of calories just unlacing those boots before the vag exam, but I’ll never know.

And when I read my iPad at home, I’m in the dark about my body. But when I do it on the reclining bicycle I’m confident that I can burn the calorific content of a cup of tea in just over nine minutes. (Providing I don’t actually stop and drink one during the session).

Someone should invent a rubber ring you can put on your pregnant bump as an iPad/kindle stand for the reclining bicycle. I can cycle slowly and read about eating more slowly too. This is relaxing. Or I can really pump it so the machine is kind of rocking dangerously, and the iPad has to go beside me on the floor. Sometimes I do this for a minute or two. The sense of pride is immense, Gym. It’s one of the reasons I love you.

All these things, I keep revisiting.

Keep me visiting. It’s not perfect, OK, it’s weird, but I like it.

Dear Gym, please can you fix it for me to be reasonably fit and healthy in this pregnancy. Please keep me from losing my bare minimum of physical exertion; keep me coming just often enough to be doing something. Because doing something makes me very very happy even if it’s a very wonky little something. Just keep debiting my husband’s account, keep me committed, keep sucking me into your weird alternative universe and spitting me out with rosy cheeks. Even if sometimes it’s just embarrassment.

Yours sincerely,

Laura (the one who has to keep pulling her waistband up as it unrolls down her middle).

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Do you love, loathe or have ambivalence towards your gym? Do you manage to overcome your ambivalence about exercise in general (don’t tell me you don’t have ANY?? Even Murakami says he still feels reluctant to run… )Did you, or are you, managing to stay physically active in your pregnancy? I’d love to hear your comments. Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign on it under the blogpost to open up the comment thread and add your voice.

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Read more about pregnancy and maternity on Illustrated Guide to Life:

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