To whom it may concern

A girl named Jim

SO.

I haven’t quite quit the gym. But I have put my membership on notice.

Let’s call it a trial separation.

WAHOO! No more gym.

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.

My old steed Beth.

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.

Fun fact: every single item of clothing I am wearing in this photo belongs to M, save the shorts.

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.

25 thoughts on “A girl named Jim

  1. You go girl! I really admire you for all that effort you put in investing in yourself, me, I haven’t seen the outside of a gym let alone the inside of one and my dad wouldn’t let me go out for a walk by myself, I am not kidding! So I resort to indoor exercises and I try to make full use of the treadmill when it’s not on the fritz.
    But for as a person who doesn’t go to one, those are some pretty darn good reasons to ditch the gym. Mother Nature is well ventilated if you ask me, and when some obnoxious jerk lets loose a fart you wouldn’t have to hold your breath for dear life!
    Super happy to hear you’ve made that discovery, you must be probably feeling light right now :)

    Blue skies, Ethel … speaking of which, how’s the weather holding up in your parts?

    1. Thanks Ms. D! What can I say – variety is the spice of life, right? I’m just at a point where I cannot fathom going to the gym any longer. All this Tough Mudder training I’ve been doing has been all outside, and I’ve just been having a ball. I figure I may as well keep heading down this path right?

      Haha, and YES, anyone who knows the torture that is running next to Stinky McStinkerson on the treadmill will agree – those occasions are brutal!

      The weather – well…it could definitely be better. But sometimes there really is something to say about running the pouring rain (when it’s not blinkin’ freezing cold)

      It’s actually quite magical! How about you sweets? What’s going down in your neck of the world?

      1. Nothing’s up much, rains mostly these days, the showers are really nice for walks though:) It’s 85 degrees F right now, comfortably warm in these parts. *switches off weather report*

        It’s just beautiful where you are! Great views, now a gym can’t give you that :D

  2. Nice work! I’ve been slack in keeping up lately (a self-imposed computer-rest period) and have now caught up on your entries! So glad to hear you’re embracing the outdoors! Man do I even know what you mean about it tiring you out quicker than indoors workouts. And might I add a thing called “mountain climbers” to your list – they are killer when you’re doing lots in a row. Great strengthening work though!

    Fresh air beats recirculated air any day! Especially when you think of how much sweat happens in a gym. haha. But this is coming from a person headed into a very wild, wet and windy winter. For at least the next two months, I’ll be doing most of my working out indoors… but sneaking out to enjoy outside in the moments of sunshine!

    Glad to hear that life has been smiling for you lately!!

    1. Oooohhhh, mountain climbers are BRTUAL! Those kill me. But you’re right, they are really, really good to build up strength and stamina.

      Enjoy those winds and rains – we are right here with you in June-uary here in Vancity!

  3. I always choose outdoor if I get the chance to. The humid here though, is so high that sometimes I wonder if I am sweating because of the humid, or because I am actually exercising. Thank you for sharing and have a nice day [:
    Maria

  4. Fantastic post as always. I really love your writing style. And you’re quite right. As someone who is discovering off-road sprints for the first time, I really love cardio outside. I love the feeling after when you collapse in the grass in the shade and just…be. No thoughts, just breath. It’s a beautiful meditation.

    I would love to get started trailrunning. I keep on having dreams about it. Any suggestions?

    (Sorry for the absenteeism, summer school really caught up with me!)

    1. Hey Books! No worries at all. I definitely know that state of which you speak of :)

      Glad you enjoyed the post and it’s brilliant to hear that you are digging the outdoor cardio. That moment you describe is heaven-on-earth.

      In terms of trail running – sweet! Definitely give it a go. At the beginning I would definitely recommend starting easy – try to find a loop trail that is a distance/elevation you know you can manage or know wont be too strenuous. If you can, go with a partner. Give it a couple of goes, see how you take to it and then start adding in longer distance/climbs.

      When you start out, remember to let your body dictate how quickly you run/how long and/or short your strides should be. As you go more and more you can start overriding what is natural and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Have fun!

        1. I think starting with a partner would be great. Definitely helps to teamwork encouragement.

          I’m not sure if there is an overarching goal – mine has always been to get stronger and faster and to enjoy the amazing surroundings!

  5. I’m so excited for you! You’ve captured all the best parts of “working out” outside. I’ve hated gyms and just don’t go, got burnt out as a teenager and have been a hiker/runner/biker ever since. It really is a different kind of exertion being outside and using your own body as resistance. Keep us posted on how it goes for you! Oh, and if you’re looking for a rad upper body workout I’d suggest getting into rock climbing (I’d go with you!) :).
    Another awesome post, lady! Hugs!

    1. Love the idea of a rock climbing date! Especially now that I actually have so upper body strength to work with!

      Goodness know, you are totally someone who inspires me on a a daily basis – especially with your biking routine. Your posts pump me up baby!!

  6. I have recently relocated to a different country and for the first time ever, I can run outdoors and the bike ride is better than anything I have known. Thank you for sharing, it helps knowing you are not alone.

  7. Wow, the very first blog post of yours that I read (when it was Freshly Pressed) was about your crapbox of a gym. End of an era – beginning of an even better one!

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