Thursday, January 5, 2017

4 Reasons I Quit the Gym this New Year

As we kick of a new year and people rush to gyms by the droves, I’m happy to say I’m avoiding the crowds because I cancelled my membership last month. That might seem surprising. After all, I’m a fitness professional. But there are several reasons it was the best decision for me and I thought I’d share in case you’re on the fence.

Let’s face it. Health clubs and studios cost money- anywhere from $10-$100 per month for individuals. If you go a few times a week, maybe it’s worth it. But if you don’t, you might find a better way to spend your coins. Before you commit to a gym, ask yourself if you have access to free options- fitness centers through your employer or perhaps your living community, for instance. You can get it in and save money.

A second deciding factor for me was how disconnected I felt at my gym. I didn’t realize how much I valued community. When I started my fitness journey several years ago, I didn’t mind going alone. But once I became a regular at the campus recreation center I joined, it kind of became like Cheers. You know…where everybody knows your name. I found that I missed that when I didn’t have it anymore at my large commercial gym. Anonymity is fine for some. But for me, I want to feel like I’m part of something.

Another unexpected evolution I noticed that I didn’t really care for was getting into the culture of comparison. Thanks to social media it’s common place to post hardcore workouts of yourself all in the name of inspiring others. What ends up happening though is I started to feel inadequate. If I can’t do pullups, squat or bench press my body weight, do handstands, etc. then I must not be an athlete. That’s not true, of course. But it started to feel true. I had lost a healthy perspective and the best way to get it back was to unplug from the culture of comparison.

A final factor for me quitting the gym was the lack of motivation I started to feel. Exercise was a chore. It was lonely because I didn’t have a workout partner. It was boring because I kept doing the same things over and over. Trainer or not, I’m not ashamed to say, I can’t think of anything duller than doing bicep curls. Therefore, I needed to get creative again and recapture the joy of movement. I found that I was way more motivated when I went to the park or hit the trail. I was even more consistent when just moving around my living room and finding new ways to grow in strength with or without equipment. For me, it was a no brainer. Quit the gym and do my own thing.

Am I done with gyms forever? No, probably not. But for now, I feel good about being able to just relax and enjoy movement again. I don’t have to feel guilty or obligated to go when I don’t want to, or feel like I’m wasting money. I can refocus on the reasons I move in the first place. It’s pretty freeing. I’m not knocking gyms. Some are really great. If you’re looking for one, you can still consider these areas as you decide. What do you value most? What will help you reach your goals? For me though, I decided this new year I needed to break away from the gym and just move. 

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