Fitness Articles

Learn to Love Going to the Gym

No More Excuses!

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I was not very athletic in school. All elbows and knees and very little ability, I was usually the last one picked for teams. It was clear to me at a young age that my future lay in books, not basketballs, so I accepted my lack of athletic skills and concentrated on simply getting through gym class without causing my team to lose.

Fast-forward almost thirty years and I realized the pounds that had been steadily creeping up on me weren’t going to disappear on their own. I needed to get serious about my health before I started following in my mother’s footsteps with osteoporosis, high blood pressure and pre-diabetes. It was time to get to the gym.

Even though I knew I had to start working out, it took a few days to psych myself up and actually set foot in the gym. All of the old memories started playing in my head. Would I make a fool of myself? Would people laugh at me? How was I ever going to figure out all of that equipment? Maybe I should forget about the whole thing and resign myself to accepting my body the way it was, instead of putting myself through all this mental torture.

Then I realized that most of the problems I had in gym class all those years ago stemmed from my lack of knowledge. I didn’t remember a teacher ever explaining the rules of baseball and I was too shy to ask, so when the ball came my way I simply ducked because I didn’t know what to do. But now as an adult, I was much more confident and had the power to ask questions. I could do this!

I chose the gym closest to my home so I wouldn’t have an excuse not to go. Since it was within walking distance, I could never bail out of an exercise session because it was too much trouble to get there. So with new cross-trainers in hand and only slightly shaky knees, I signed up for a one-year membership.

My representative immediately put me at ease by giving me a tour of the facility and explaining all the rules and protocol. After showing me how to operate the cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bikes), she left me on my own to find what I was most comfortable with. I selected the treadmill—I could already walk, so it seemed the natural choice for a beginner. Thirty minutes later I was sweating and happy. Even though I had stumbled a few times before getting into the rhythm of the machine, nobody had laughed at me or even seemed to notice. This gym thing wasn’t so bad after all!

I started going three times a week and noticed the same people there most of the time. This made me feel even more comfortable because even though I didn’t know these people personally, I wasn’t around total strangers anymore. It even got to the point of nodding a hello to the woman on the next treadmill or commenting on something we had both seen on the TV as we worked out. I felt like I was part of a tribe of people who were all trying to reach the same goal—physical fitness.

I made a lot of progress over the next few months but I still felt a little insecure around people in tip-top shape. All it took was a scan around the room to find a whole range of body types and fitness levels and I felt better. I was doing okay.

I ran into an old friend about six months after I started going to the gym and she was impressed by the changes in my body. I was noticeably slimmer and carried myself with more confidence. When she found out that I went to the gym regularly, she shook her head and said she would never be able to do it—she hated the whole idea and wondered how I had managed to become such a fan. It wasn’t hard to give her a list of reasons why I love going to the gym:
  1. Social enrichment. I love being around people who are trying to improve their health. We share the same ideals and values.
     
  2. Year-round exercise. I used to walk outside when the weather was good but stayed in at the slightest sign of rain or snow. Going to the gym meant not being limited by Mother Nature.
     
  3. Expert advice. Personal trainers are always right there to check my form and make suggestions. No more flying blind when trying to use a piece of equipment for the first time. I even had a personalized routine created with regular check-ins every 6-8 weeks.
     
  4. Classes. With a wide variety of group fitness classes available each week, I can choose between any of them and never get bored. For instance, I might go to kickboxing one week and take a step class the next.
     
  5. Nutrition education. My gym often offers sessions with a registered dietitian who gives solid advice on how to eat better.
     
  6. Variety of equipment. A gym offers much more equipment than I could ever afford to buy—and much better quality too.
     
  7. Goal setting. Setting a goal to lift a certain weight and achieving it is a great confidence booster. If I can do this, what other things can I do?
     
  8. Self-acceptance. Seeing people of all shapes and sizes helps you accept your own figure even if you need to lose a few pounds or haven’t exercised in years.
     
  9. Daycare. Many gyms offer affordable, onsite daycare services, so parents of small children can exercise without scrambling to find a babysitter.
     
  10. Fun! As children, we naturally exercise because we see activities such as running or playing volleyball as fun, not work. When you adopt the attitude that a fitness class is fun, you can look forward to exercise instead of seeing it as one more thing on your to-do list.

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Member Comments

  • Joining a fitness class is one of the best things I have done for my health. I meet up with the other ladies regularly, we moan about how tough the classes are, and even have lunch. The camaraderie is great. We even have a Facebook group with more than 200 members!
  • ETHELMERZ
    I've done time at two different gyms, found out I do much better at home with my rebounder and exercise bike, and it takes less time and no travel . Do what makes you happy.
  • Thank you - this is such a well-written, encouraging article!
  • #2 is reason enough for me to keep up my membership. I'm never sidelined by the weather. I've had a continuous membership at various gyms since 1972.
  • I certainly don't love going to the gym anymore than I love cleaning my house. But I do like the results. Of course, after I've finished cleaning I can immediately see the results. You don't see that going to the gym until after at least 6 months. I am not a patient person.
  • I was never athletic growing up, but when my doctor mentioned diabetes, I got serious. Ijoined our local YMCA and pay by the month. I started going after work but that got tough. I work outside and when winter hit I was too tired and hungry. So I switched to you g before work and realized how much more awake i felt and how nice it was to know I was getting it in and over with lol. I had my headphones andpickedupbeatmu
    sic and would walk on the treadmill to the beat of the song. I have since ditched the headphones for conversations with others who can give me suggestions or justentertainment
    . I also have a zumba dvd that I can do when I have the house to myself. It's fun.and doesn't feel like exercise. I have my setbacks but I find I enjoy working out in the morning and that its the easiest part of the whole getting healthy thing. Good luck to all and remember "try it you might like it"
  • I'd love to go to the gym. I love weights. But, I don't like the idea of having to sign my soul away. Perhaps if these places let you pay-as-you-go.
  • BMARCOS4
    I love going to the gym, however it wasn't always this way. It took me several months of maintaining my routine to get into this habit. It isn't as much about loving the actual workout as it is loving how I feel afterward and look.

    happyleefitness
    .com/happylee
    -fitness-gym-
    offering/going t
  • EMERALDISLES
    I enjoy having the variety of the gym. I can swim laps, do water jogging, take different aqua fitness classes, do other cardio and strength classes, can do weights and plenty of cardio machines. I love exercising outdoors as well( running, walking, hiking, rollerblading, etc). Variety is good. I also like jumping rope and using workout dvds.
  • HILLSLUG98239
    I just saw that someone referred to a gym being filled with "triathlete types." What does that mean? I am not slender - I'm 5'6" and I weigh 175 pounds. I doubt people looking at me would guess I'm an athlete. There are plenty of people who do triathlons who are do not have single-digit body fat percentages.
  • HILLSLUG98239
    Thanks for this article!

    I never saw much of a reason to pay a gym membership - I really prefer exercising outdoors. But I switched to triathlon, and I needed access to a pool. I've been a member a little over a year, and I believe it's worth it.

    While I cannot walk to my gym, it's about mid-way between my home and office. Even better, it's across the street from a courthouse where most of my hearings are. I can get in a short swim at lunch, or a long swim prior to my docket once a week. And when I'm commuting by bike, I can ride to the gym, do my strength training, and then ride home.

    I'm consistently pleased by the niceness of the people at the gym. We have all body types and fitness levels. I've never seen any fat-shaming or sideways glances. The employees are always polite and encouraging. And the spin classes - something I thought I'd never do - made me a better cyclist.

    It's pricey, but I love my gym!
  • MICHELLE40505
    I joined Planet Fitness last week, and it seems a lot less stressful than 24hr Fitness. Though not sure if i'll be motivated enough to get results. Any suggestion?
  • My preference is definitely to get outside. But if the weather is just too bad to do that, I go to the gym. I also go to the gym for my strength training because I would never do it on my own - so I go to a class twice a week, and for step aerobics, simply because I love it!
  • I miss my gym! Not able to go as have to stay with DH and grandkids.

    I use my treadmill, wii, dance tapes and spark tapes to get workout in.

  • Right now I am not apart of a gym because I am on a budget and will be moving soon. But I did learn in the past it has to be close to home. I know I am too lazy to go out of my way. I also learned that it has to be fun to me and not feel like a work out. I liked the tips given here. I would also like to add for the sake of my mom. She needs a buddy. She meets up with a friend to work out with 2-3 days a week. With this buddy she is more likely to go to the gym :-)

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

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