Gymophobia. It's a real thing. Don't laugh. I googled it. 

(I have it.)

Which is weird because I like the gym. I like opening the door and being pulled in by the music. I like lifting that first rep and fighting the burn on the last. I like resting between sets and feeling the refill of energy for the next. I like moving the peg up to the next plate. And I love treating myself to red light therapy and hydro massage. The gym is a music thumping playground and a stress relieving wonderland all in one. I have no issues with the gym at all.

It's the people who freak me out. 

It's not their fault. They all look like perfectly nice people who have something in common with me. I mean, we are all at the gym, right? How cool is that? So why do I wish they would all go away? Clearly it's not really the people.

Which means... 

It's me. My fear. My fear of being watched. Judged. Laughed at. Ridiculed.

Like in school. Dreaded gym class. I wasn't a jock. I hated sports.

It started in second grade when Mr. Frasier handed us golf clubs and taught us to swing. I did. And Jimmy Carbone, on the receiving end of my back swing, needed 7 stitches. Mr. Frasier never brought the golf clubs out again. (Looking back, I'm surprised he kept his job.) 

In middle school, I hoped no one would pick me for their team, and they didn't until I was the last one left and I think they would have wiggled out of taking me as last pick if possible. 

In high school, I helped them out. I pleaded cramps and sat with the mean girls on the bench. (They didn't pick me for their team either.) 

Gym was soul-sucking, self-esteem robbing torture.

Here's the thing. I was an athlete. I could do things the jocks couldn't dream of. I never had a horseback riding lesson in my life, but I rode my horse bareback, swinging effortlessly onto her back from a stand still. We raced the trails, two wild things, and soared over anything in our way. I practiced trick riding for fun. While she cantered, I would bring my bare feet up behind me, then pull my knees up into a crouch, and then stand, arms stretched wide.

Gymnastics. Skating. Cheerleading. Judo. Swimming. I excelled. But I didn't know I was an athlete. At that time, if you weren't on a varsity team, you weren't an athlete. I could do handsprings all day and they wouldn't count for anything. 

Especially not in gym class. 

Gym class is gone, but the fear is not. My barrier is an imaginary person who is waiting to see me wear something he or she doesn't think is cool or try to do something new and fail.

This person is not at the gym but is in my head, born of memories, nurtured on disappointment. But I'm not that kid anymore. I still hate team sports, but who cares? Most of the jocks only play arm chair sports now. (I know because I see their pics on facebook and they are not what you would call fit!) But I'm out there climbing mountains and running obstacle course races. Who's the athlete now? 

It's time the person in my head gets a new job. The only way this will happen is if I demonstrate what I can do. So that's the plan. I will, bit by bit, try everything in that gym that appeals to me. I will own it. And I will take that imaginary whistle and blast the bejeesus out of that imaginary person who needn't bother judging this athlete ever again.