A fool’s guide to becoming a gym rat

Keyukemi Ubi
7 min readMar 15, 2023

First, I must warn you that this is more or less a rant post. But I promise that you will be entertained and you will be educated. You shall be edutained.

As I write this, my body is incredibly sore. I am ‘hangry’ and cranky. The most prevailing thought on my mind right now is, “na who send me work?”

You see, I have always had a somewhat irrational fear of being fat. I don’t know where it comes from, seeing as my mom isn’t, and neither of my aunties is unhealthily big. But due to that fear, I always did some form of workout at home. I used to do yoga, pilates, and some short HIIT drills that didn’t require equipment.

At some point, I started to get fascinated by gym girlies, you know, the muscle mummies. I would see reels and say things like, “oh, that's a strong woman,” “I love her body,” and “I want to be like her.” So, I promised myself I would join the gym after my surgery and when my health improved.

In December 2022, I signed up for the gym! As a good samaritan, I will share a few things you need to know before signing up.🧵

A picture of Keyukemi standing at the weights section while taking a mirror selfie
A picture of me at the weights section

Step One

Well, usually, the first step is to ask questions and try to find the closest gym to your home so it's accessible, and that's what I did.

According to my health insurance plan, I am supposed to have access to a gym. That didn’t work out because, somehow, all the gyms on the health plan within my orbit had shut down. So I had to pay out of pocket.

Now if you live in Lagos (like I currently do), you end up signing up at I-fitness. As far as I know, they are the most extensive gym network in Lagos. It's also why they are so proud (giving them side eyes); they added that yeye yearly member’s fee (yes, I am still pressed about it, but I will pay it). When I arrived, I asked the receptionist what I needed to prepare before joining; essentially, all I needed to know. She said, “all you need to do is sign up.”

So I did, I had to pay a couple of fees that added up to almost ₦40K, and by the next day, I started. They linked me up with a trainer to guide me for the first five days. So I learned how to use the machines without hurting myself. On those days, the trainer kept asking me if I had signed up for personal training, and I kept telling him no while looking at him suspiciously. I get it; he has to upsell, but even though, even though…

I want to tell you that I stood firm and didn’t sign up for personal training, but I did (after a month! I tried). Yes, I paid for a trainer. I was not about to break a bone, tear a muscle or spend months working out in vain. And that, guys, was the beginning of my downfall! On the first day, I had to get gloves because my palm kept hurting from the dumbbells.

By the second week of having a trainer, I realized I needed to get barbell pads if I didn’t want to hurt my neck while doing barbell squats. By the third week, I needed a lifting belt if I didn’t want to hurt my back while doing Romanian deadlifts. Right now, my knees are hurting a lot after my leg days at the gym. You know what that means *inserts mischievous smile*. It means that I have to get knee wraps/pads soon. Another Expense!!!

So if you have ever wondered why people carry traveling, sorry duffel bags to the gym, now you know the answer. You can find all these things and more inside the bottomless pit of a gym bag.

A picture of the duffel bag Keyukemi takes to the gym
A picture of the duffel bag I take to the gym

So you see, step one above was just a lie. It is the bait to reel you in. There is no step one; it never stops. In fact, it is “step infinity.” You either go hard or go home. You never stop needing stuff.

Although it’s the gym, you go there to jump, run, sweat, etc. But I must remind you that drip is eternal. No matter where you are, a sister mustn’t be caught slipping. I still have to look good. This means that I had to buy new gym clothes. Instagram algorithm be doing the most, so I stumbled on some gym-wear pages. Hehehehe, let’s just say that after I saw some of the prices, I decided to go thrift shopping. Yes! You read right. Thrift shops for gym wear- Saving bank balances since 1908.

Did I mention that you need to change your eating habit too? Whether you are trying to lose weight or you are trying to gain. All your hard work at the gym can result in wasted efforts if you aren’t eating right. Don’t let anyone tell you shit; eating healthy is expensive. Trust me; I would know because I have several dietary restrictions, intolerances, or allergies. It would be best if you got pre-workouts to help maintain your energy levels. Coffee does it for me, but some folks must buy creatine supplements. If you are trying to gain, you may need mass gainers or protein shakes, which cost an arm and an eyeball.

Since we are already on the topic, let's discuss the cons.

The Cons

I am a “give me the bad news first” person. So I will tell you about some of the cons of joining a gym.

One, you have to show up. You mean I have to get out of bed and actually go there? You mean I have to leave my house and actually go out? *cue in Hot tears 😭*. For people like myself who are couch potatoes, getting up and showing up is incredibly hard. It is the hardest part.

Next is to beware of the content creators (including myself). I wouldn’t say I like to refer to myself as a content creator; I am not trying to build a career out of it. I create content for my entertainment or to keep records of my memories. Sometimes I do it because sharing my experience might be helpful to someone. However, I am not so hypocritical that I will not admit I am somewhat part of the problem I complain about.

For some reason, there are cameras everywhere at the gym. Everywhere you turn, there is someone with a tripod pointed that manages to have you in the frame. It freaks me out a little because I don’t like to end up in people’s media without deliberate action or my agreeing to it. But I have accepted that it is a public and shared space. So it is what it is.

Lastly and most importantly, your body will hurt(a lot). You might even fall sick after the first two weeks (ps. I did). No matter how intense your home workouts are, gym workout is on a new level. You must be mentally prepared for that pain, or you might run away after those first two weeks(if you manage to do two weeks).

However, if you manage to push past this, there are some pros you will find on the other side.

The Pros

I don’t think you need me to tell you that working out is good for your health. All the many articles, videos, podcasts, doctor’s recommendations, etc., are enough to convince you that it is a healthy choice. Not just for the present but for your future too. I know, Y.O.L.O., but live that one life as healthy as possible, don't you think?

There is this feel-good chemical that runs through my veins after a good workout. I feel like I can take on anything, and the world suddenly doesn’t feel as gloomy. This shot doesn’t last very long, but it is enough to help me kick-start my day without questioning my reason for existence every 5 seconds. For people like myself who struggle with depression, working out has been super helpful.

You also make friends at the gym. I met Ro at the gym and a few others. It's been fantastic knowing her. I generally shy away from human interactions, but these days I enjoy the limited interactions at the gym. As much as I love remote work and will never trade it for anything else, I still think that humans aren’t meant to be in isolation often and for so long. Admittedly, there are also creeps at the gym, but I hope you are careful and discerning enough with your connections.

A collage of gym pictures with Keyukemi and Ro, her Gym Buddy.
A collage of gym pictures with Ro, My Gym Buddy.

So if you see me outside or you see a picture of me on social media, please encourage my vanity by paying me compliments. It wouldn’t hurt you in any way to tell me that my body is bodying. All that hard work can’t be for naught! Are you asking if I need human validation? Yes! of course I do! Isn’t that what we all seek in one form or another, validation and acceptance? Well, that’s a conversation for another day.

So now that I have told you what you need to know, at least you can’t say I didn’t do anything for you. You can’t say I didn’t contribute to the furtherance of the human race.

Now, you may have read this and gone, “ok, that’s it. I am not signing up for the gym”. To that, I say, “get up, you lazy twat”. Ok, just kidding, just kidding... But really, I think everyone should maintain a fitness routine, even if it is simply taking long walks (8000 steps) every day. It will do you some good, and it's one of the ways you show your body that you love it.

I hope with these few points of mine; I have been able to confuse and not convince you that…. oh fuck it! I am tired! I am going to take a nap.