I haven’t quite quit the gym. But I have put my membership on notice.
Let’s call it a trial separation.
And as many of you know, I have quite a tumultuous relationship with my gym.
All gyms really.
Even if I did, once upon a time, go to the gym A LOT.
All throughout my undergrad and first year of my post grad I trekked to the gym between three to five times per week. I didn’t know how to exercise without a membership card. As such, I participated in fitness classes where generic but frenetic electro-pop made my heartbeat irregular. I read more back issues of Sports Illustrated, US Weekly and the Economist whilst climbing to nowhere on a Stairmaster, than a chronically bored Chapters employee.
In the two months leading up to my wedding, I frequented the hallowed sweat-box known as “Fitness World” so many times one of the front desk girls asked me if I wanted a job with the company.
But oh how things have changed.
The summer after our marriage, my husband and I moved to New Westminster (a city almost gym-free compared to Vancouver) and I started a job-school schedule that demanded between 50-60 hours of my time during the week.
I was so exhausted most of the time that the last thing I wanted to do before or after work (let alone on my days off) was head to the gym. Both my body and mind completely rejected the idea of regulated exercise.
And so other than riding my bike as my preferred mode of transit, I did nothing.
However, after two glorious months of doing nothing, I began to miss a more dynamic lifestyle. I did not, however, on any terms, want to return to a gym. Slowly, I started to experiment with different sorts of outdoor activities. What I quickly realized was that my body was capable of so much more than what it is confined to within the gym. It was (is!) literally a vehicle – a means of getting around, of exploring places I’d never been, of spending more times with family and friends.
I ramped up my pedal schedule and started biking everywhere.
Queen’s Park became my treadmill.
I only re-joined the gym life a year later because of how horrible our weather had been, and I wasn’t about to commit to working out in the dark and rain all the live long winter.
But now I’m tired.
And I’m thinking that come the end of this trial run, I may just quit it all together.
Sometimes, you just need to reboot.
Here are my top four reasons why:
1.The gym can be very expensive. Most range between 20-50 dollars a month. Some are even higher. If you multiply those numbers by 12, you are looking at upwards of 600 dollars a year. Mine is pretty cheap, but I still think of the pretty shiny things I can buy with those sweet cash dollars.
2. The gym is an establishment frequented by the semi-sane that can, and will, turn you the exact same way: girls in their bathing suits talking on their cells phones; guys who are more interested in checking themselves out than actually lifting weights; people who don’t clean off machines or wear proper deodorant, who butt-in before you’re done you set or feel the need to step in and provide one-on-one support because “they took a class in college once…” I know I look quite the sight dressed in my husband’s old t-shirts and shorts.
3.The gym is inside. I know this is a total boon when living in a deciduous rain forest, but I truly believe there is nothing more refreshing and rewarding then exercising outside, rain or shine (give or take the ferocity of the elements. There may be times where you have to concede to Mother Nature.) However, you will never feel better or more alive than after completing a hard fought activity on unlevel ground, gulping down fresh air as the wind cools your flushed face.
4. Finally, the number one reason to quit the gym is that you can stay in shape without it.
Just remember to:
Expect changes. The first time around I thought I could just jump into the same level of exercise that I was accustomed to at the gym. (This was also a very silly mistake as I had also been inactive for longer than I was used to.) Both running and biking outside has a different affect on your body than the monotony of gym machines.
It will likely tire you out at a faster rate.
If you are capable of going to the gym every week, you are capable of going for a run/bike ride/hike/walk/ every week as well! It is very easy to feel as though because the gym is there and you’re paying for it, you have to go. There is no reason that you should lose the resolve just because you aren’t paying for it.
That should be a reason to go.
And for goodness sakes, use your body.
Resistance work has got to be one of the most difficult but effective workouts I have ever done. Plus you can do it in the comfort of your own home/dorm/common room. Push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees – these exercises require no equipment and work like nothing else.
Of course I cannot guarantee that any of these things will work for anyone, let along everyone. I wanted to write this post because I was so shocked and so happy by something I never thought I would be able to do.
I promise you will be amazed at the things you are capable of achieving.
I know I am.