I went to the gym on Monday, November 8th after work. It was the first time I had been there in six days. For six days, I had things to do. I had to drive to Idaho City three times in four days because my son was hunting Elk with his stepfather. In between those days, he had an admissions interview for a new school. He did well. I was proud that he could astutely and confidently answer the principal’s questions about himself, his faith and his future without any need for me to add comments. Still, I was worried. There was no guarantee he’d get in soon. Space was limited. Still, I prayed. Things have been unstable for a long time. I have worried. I worry. He got in. Thank you Jesus. He’s loving it and I’m happy for him. Some friends have helped him get to school. Thank you friends. Thank you Jesus. And then I was in the weight room along with, apparently, every other muscle bro and sis from the city of Nampa. Long sigh. I had no plan. Sometimes I don’t have a plan, not just in the weight room. Fortunately for me, things sometimes just end up working out (no pun intended). After a long layoff, I worry that I have lost strength. I’m in my head, asking questions, “Am I going to feel weak? Is it better to start light, high reps then move to heavy weight, low reps, more time between sets?” And on and on. And while I’ve been gone, others haven’t. You notice that others are lifting more. You notice that others have small books with them (like I used to, man I need to get back to this) where they are following a schedule of lifts and movements, crossing and checking things off. And then I think, maybe I could’ve prepared like that while I was waiting and nursing a cup of coffee at Trudy’s in Idaho City? Or maybe I could’ve done it at night after my shower but before bed but then I remember my brain, and my tired body and my need to rest and recover and the new couch is so comfy. I call sessions like these, “Welcome Back” sessions. But nobody welcomes me, of course. If the gym were empty, orienting myself to a sequence of lifts would not be an issue. But when you walk in and all your usual starting points, benches and squat racks, are taken, you have to adjust and make do. This isn’t always bad. Muscle memory is called that for a reason. Your muscles know where you are and what you’re about to do. But that shouldn’t always be the case. Routines are good but ruts are not. When the gym is packed and all your normal pieces of equipment and machines are being used, you have to find a different and new ways to start. Maybe you had your mind set on starting with incline bench but all of the benches are taken. So you troubleshoot. “I’ll do legs then, shoot!” But all of the squat racks are taken. Grrrrrrr! This may be where frustration begins to set in. Take it easy. Take a walk. Sip that pre. This might be a good time to give those often neglected muscles some much needed attention. It may be a good time to shove yourself out of your comfort zone. If you can’t use free weights, maybe this is a good day to say, “I’m only going to use machines. Let’s see how that goes.” Your muscles won’t know what’s going on. Your muscles will think they are in someone else’s body because if they could talk, they would say, “What the what, this guy never uses machines! Is he using machines? He’s not using machines.” But you are using machines and it feels weird and new but you’re still putting in the work. It’s now Friday, I won’t lift today. Tonight I will watch BSU play Wyoming at Albertson’s Stadium. I lifted yesterday and Wednesday and they were good workouts. I’ll find myself in the weight room in the morning, calm and peaceful and ready to work.