When you’re sitting on the couch, YouTube on Autoplay, consuming HD images of colourful lives you feel worlds away from, it can be hard to pull yourself out of this kind of muck.
First things first: Do you want to feel better?
Would you be willing to at least try, for fifteen minutes, a guaranteed way to calm the nerves?
This is what I ask myself when I’m in a funk. And even though there are other activities that don’t necessarily stack up every time I try them, there is one that will never disappoint.
Good. Old. Exercise.
EXERCISE. The kind of word that has made me groan internally for months now, if I’m honest. I guess because it’s so insanely simple and obvious. Sure, I’ll go on my occasional walk, but anything more strenuous than that has not been attempted for a while now. Much to my mirror’s chagrin.
A couple of days ago, though, something shifted. I was talking to a student about her involvement in F45, and it sent me into a bit of a frenzy. I was looking up F45 all over the place – free trials, reviews, sample workouts… deep down knowing that this would just be another exciting thing I’d fork out all this money for and not actually attend.
The money issue
I am not someone who is held accountable by my expenditure. Perhaps it’s just avoidance of my financial reality, but I have unfortunately been quite wasteful when it comes to signing myself up to direct debits like a gym membership. As I’m sure is the case a lot of people – that is, after all, how the fitness industry stays booming at the same time as the obesity epidemic, am I right?
So I was coming to terms with the objective fact that I can’t stand group fitness, and that I don’t actually need to spend money in order to be fit – but still aware of my inability to self-motivate to exercise in the familiar confines of my home and neighbourhood – when I remembered: there’s such a thing as a casual gym.
My original gym, the first one I ever walked into three years ago, is a casual gym. I’d go in, pay around $2, and exercise to my heart’s content. And I enjoyed it! I went upwards of four days a week!
I can’t remember what exactly the thing was that pulled me away from that initial gym experience – perhaps the trek (it’s 15-20 minutes from home) – but I did fall off the wagon, and have since been through a failed 14-week group fitness challenge and a gym membership that started out great but waned after a few months.
I decided to go to the gym again, paid my fee, didn’t put myself through any app-sanctioned workout stress, and the pay-off in the 45 minutes I was there is that I enjoyed my time and was willing to come back the next day.
What DOES work
See, that’s the thing that I’ve read in theory but never applied – slowing down, pulling back, and not going overboard – essentially leaving enough in the tank for the next day. Because this is what will breed consistency.
The result is that last night, even after going to a movie and getting locked out of my house, I was determined to be able to say I went to the gym two days in a row. And this morning, I almost left the house unprepared but cycled back and put together my gym bag to head there straight after work.
This is not something I have actively done, with fervour, in just under two years. I’d love to think that in that time I’ve learned a thing or two about fighting temptation and breaking habits.
What I like about the 24-hour gym concept is that it’s always there. There’s no closing time, forcing you to wait until tomorrow – you have no excuse. And that, for me, is more effective and more of an incentive than draining your bank account.
If I go five days this week I’ll only be out of pocket $11! Amazing.
Here’s the thing.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to go to the gym five days a week or not at all. Twice a week is enough, if that’s where you’re at. Just going is enough, and letting yourself be pulled to the areas you’d like. Make it fun at first, before putting rigid routines on yourself. Your body enjoys training, sure, but it also enjoys movement in all forms – so get moving! Don’t feel weighed down by all the advice that’s up there on the Internet and in your social circles – you’ll get around to them eventually, but the key to success is testing and observing results for yourself, daily.
It took me to this point to accept, finally – and to be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t want to accept it in the first place – the fact that group fitness is not my jam. I preferred to suffer under the notion that I just had no willpower. When it’s pretty obvious that underneath my intention to have willpower, I just DID NOT want to go into that kind of environment – starting a habit should not be completed under unnecessary stress. You should be making it as easy as possible for yourself to feel the positive effects of small daily successes. Turn the heat up slowly.
Maybe one day I’ll be interested in group fitness. But for now, that’s not going to help me achieve my fitness goals. So I’m not going to let that be the obstacle when there are so many other options available!
Your turn to feel better!
Find a gym near you that offers casual rates. Commit to going today. You can just go on the cardio machines, or do ab workouts on the mats. Doesn’t matter how long you stay for, either. Just go, complete a task, and feel the inevitable endorphin rush ordered and coming your way.
The ultimate goal should be that you can get to the end of your day and say “that was alright” – at the very least! You want to be able to find something good that happened. If that’s your goal, make the process foolproof, by spending 2% of your day moving your body any which way you please.
Let me know in the comments below – what would your ideal, realistic gym workout involve? Remember: It’s not what anyone else expects. Go with your gut.