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I’ve never been extremely comfortable at the gym.

For me, it feels a bit like visiting someone’s house. Not really a stranger, but maybe a relative who has furniture you’re not sure you can sit on. The machines can look complicated, and don’t even get me started on locker room basics. I have never looked as comfortable at the gym as this woman aboveAs much as I don’t really like to call it a “fitness journey,” it really has been and will continue to be a process.

Throughout my life, I’ve exercised for a variety of reasons.  In college, I went to the old HPER (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Building) at Utah State University. It had a funky, aged smell and was a bit of a maze. I was constantly looking for a sports bra that wouldn’t make me look flat, because duh, what if that guy from my International Studies class happened to be there again? I exercised because it was the thing to do, and I went to hang out with my friends.

After I had my first daughter, it took me a year and a half to get back to the gym. When I finally made it back, I began working with a trainer. He was a former Army Medic who pushed me just the right amount. He encouraged me to give my all and supported me as I achieved my goals. 

Last year I had a friend write something on Instagram about having mom guilt from going to the gym and spending time away from her child. I commented, telling her that my 4-year-old had been whining that she didn’t want to go to the gym with me. I described how at that moment, the Mom Guilt crept in and I thought, “Oh no, should we not go?! She’s not having a fun time.” Then I realized that it’s OK that every moment of her life is not magical. It will be fine for her to spend an hour at the gym childcare with kind people and plenty of toys. I am paying for it, and I need that hour!

Sometimes it’s hard to get a workout in, but there has never been a time I’ve regretted strengthening my body and mind. Now, I go to the gym for me and my kids because I find that I am a happier woman, mom, wife, and friend when I put in the time to exercise.  This year I’m getting ready to do my first Tough Mudder and am excited about the challenges ahead. 

You’ve heard of a Gym Rat? Well, I still wouldn’t say that the gym is my second home — I’m more of a Gym Hamster — but I’m on my way.  

One thing that has helped my gym journey is music!

In my early twenties, I went to some Hip-Hop classes at the city rec center with friends from work. I’d like to say I learned mad Hip-Hop skills, but sadly I am still not a dancer. What I did learn, though, was how to sweat and “dance” to T-Pain without caring what other people thought. That was when I realized how much music could help me stay motivated and enjoy exercising. 

Here’s my music playlist these days that keeps me distracted from how long I’ve been running or how many sets I have left.  If you’re looking for specific BPM (Beats Per Minute) so you can make a playlist for warming up, cardio or weights here is a great site where you plug in the song and it computes the BPM automatically. 

Aspiring to Be a Gym Rat playlist:

  1. Superbass- Nicki Minaj. I love this song because when I run at speed 6.1-6.5 on the treadmill, the beat goes perfectly with my steps. I’m always mouthing the words, looking really cool. 127 BPM.
  2. We R Who We R- Kesha. This is my guilty pleasure. I don’t listen to her in the car with my kids, but for some reason, she is my jam at the gym. 120 BPM.
  3. Girls (Who Run the World)- Beyoncé. All hail, Queen Bey. No explanation needed. 127 BPM.
  4. Baila Casanova- Paulina Rubio.  You must listen to the Spanish version. Even if you don’t know Spanish, it is *so* much better. I tried listening to it in English and the lyrics just don’t sound as good. This song has a strong beat and is perfect for easy running. Or dancing, really. If you like Zumba, you might like this song. 119 BPM.
  5. Can’t Hold Us- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The encouraging lyrics are motivation for me to keep going. Extra points if you can find a way to lift your weights or hands up synchronized when they say “Put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.” 146 BPM.

If these songs aren’t your jam, check out Pandora or Spotify for other workout playlists. The internet is your musical oyster!