Working on My Fitness

Urban Dictionary: Gym rat; Noun

/ˈjim ˈrat /

Gym rats have well developed physiques and broad knowledge of training regimens and diet plans. Gym rats are not the same as meatheads. Gym rats are much more intelligent and often have a physical addiction to lifting weights.


About three years ago, my husband gave me a 2 month trial to a gym near our house for Christmas. A new vacuum cleaner would have received a more enthusiastic response than the gym membership did. This is probably where I should mention that I hated going to the gym. My husband loves working out though. And his opinion has always been that I should too.

But just getting a gym membership wasn’t the worst of it. This particular gym – PRT –  was the most intimidating place I had ever seen. PRT had a reputation. It was like the Muscle Beach of our little desert town. All the people who went there had actual, legit muscles. They did insanely difficult workouts with strange names like “homelessNACHOS” and “SnatchJerky.” They did totally random workouts that involved pool floaties and matching outfits. They even had their own form of PRT math which is harder than regular math.

It took me an entire month to work up the courage to walk into PRT. I honestly can’t remember my very first workout because PTSD is a thing, but I can remember how hard the workouts were before I became the specimen of muscular strength I am today. On a difficulty scale of using chopsticks (0) to giving birth (10), these workouts were somewhere around tarring a roof with just your foot while a kangaroo repeatedly kicked you in the face. So you know, not too bad.

For someone who hadn’t seriously worked out in, let’s see… ever, the beginning was rough. There were times when the coaches would hand me the lightest dumbbells they had and I literally couldn’t lift them. I was always the last to finish any workout. I had to take more breaks than everyone else. I even cried after one particularly difficult workout on the assault bike (which was invented by Satan by the way). But for some reason I kept coming back. It was completely freaking inexplicable.

So I spent some time reading about CrossFit and HIIT (because I’m a nerd) to see if someone could explain why the hell people would willingly hand over not insignificant amounts of money to someone for this type of torture. Everything I read pretty much pointed out general health advantages, muscles for days, improved agility/balance, and the bond created by shared pain. Wait, what?

And that was kind of the crux of PRT for me. The community and the bond. You can workout anywhere and you can kill yourself working out anywhere, but it’s more enjoyable to kill yourself working out where you can bond with great people. And PRT people are particularly nice people, so I was hooked.

Hooked just like all the other PRTers. People who go to PRT are so serious about this place that they show up to workout even when they’re injured. And I’m talking bleeding from the eyes, broken bones, still in traction injured. I remember a woman who had broken her ankle and came to workout on a day we were using the rower. She obviously needed to modify her workout, so the coach threw his skateboard under her injured foot, strapped her good foot into the rower and off she went. It was crazy (and kind of genius), but I totally got it. Because I would have done the same thing she did.

I’m so obsessed with PRT that if I miss a workout, I troll their Instagram stories to see what everyone did that day. If I know I’m going to be out of town, I still look at the list of workouts to see what I’m missing. My FOMO is kind of extra. And if that’s not enough, I experience a Pavlovian response to UB40’s Red Red Wine because the coaches play it after every workout. Now when I hear the song outside the gym, I have the urge to collapse to the floor and assess the damage.

So call me crazy, call me a gym rat, judge me for being all fitnessy and wearing lululemon, but don’t get in the way of my workout. I heard we’re doing SWOLLenHam and maybe BoxAtChu this week and I have to PR my previous numbers. #gymgoals

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