The one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the number of moms at the gym on any given weekday morning--the classes are nearly full, every cardio machine is packed and every lane of the pool is taken. Are these women really there to pump iron or just sweat out their frustrations from the morning? Maybe. Are these women training for a marathon or just losing baby weight? Perhaps I think the dirty little secret is a great gym membership includes free babysitting. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a nearby gym like a neighborhood YMCA (or some such equivalent), you get a pool, sauna and maybe even a coffee bar and spa with Wifi to boot.
I love working out. But I will attest that the gym is often my ticket to some peace in my own head or at least a mental break. Sometimes I will just walk on the treadmill and watch trash TV. Sometimes I will completely write a blog post in my head (then scribble it down on the aerobics schedule) on my way to pick up my kids. Sometimes I will daydream. Sometimes I will zone out. Sometimes I read a book on the stationary bike.
My kids are safe, playing, having a great time, and I can have a few minutes to get my blood flowing and find peace or at least some version of that.
So when I saw my friend there today, and we chatted on this topic, she relayed to me one of the funnier stories I’ve heard related to moms-going-to-great-lengths-for-a-break. Last week there was a young baby crying, and it took the staff 45 minutes to find the mom. Where was she? In the sauna, reading a book. Clearly the last place anyone would look. Silly mom for not writing down where she would be (not recommended), but good idea on a place to escape.
So during my Baby Bunching years, this is what I’ve seen and heard from moms looking for their own time out at the gym:
• A mom put her oldest child (still a toddler) in the childcare and sat on one of the comfy couches in the lobby to nurse her baby. (Another mom admitted later she did this almost daily because it guaranteed her a good feeding without the interruption of her toddler.)
• A mom came to walk her newborn in the stroller--and sometimes it was a Baby Bjorn--around the track (which also sits above the childcare center) so she could get exercise, put the baby to sleep and keep her other kid happy.
• One mom had a long night of all three kids being up for various reasons—she took a shower at the gym after walking on the treadmill and zoned in the locker room for a good 15 minutes (almost falling asleep) until she felt better.
• Another mom--very pregnant--was still chugging along on the treadmill because it was still a rest from dealing with her other two kids.
• A mom needed to get some work done, used the Wifi in the lobby, grabbed a coffee and sat down to work for an hour.
• A mom was trying to finish a book club book and she plunked both kids in the nursery and set off to finish the book on the bike at a book-reading pace. The same mom also used the time to return phone calls on her cell phone so her two children wouldn't interrupt the calls.
• A mom (me) finally realized I needed a break after a week of husband out of town. I worked out, showered and sat to read a magazine with a cup of coffee…until my daughter caught me during a potty break.
So don't judge your neighbor who's always at the gym and not losing all the weight. She might be working out or simply "working it out."
This post was originally posted at DC Metro Moms.