That’s one hell of a long title isn’t it? It’s nearly as long as my hatred, well maybe not quite hatred, dislike is probably more of an apt description, of the gym.
For years I’ve felt the pressure that probably most people my age have and that is, to look good you must go to the gym or do at least some form of exercise. I am only learning now, after succumbing to that pressure for so long and hating every minute I spent in that sweaty room with beef cakes and cross trainer hoggers, that you really don’t have to put yourself through that.
I don’t want to even imagine how much money I’ve wasted from unused gym memberships over the years. The usual scenario went a bit like this: the end of the year is approaching and every gym is bombarding you with offers left, right and centre. No joining fee for this month only! 10% off if you book before this date! You know the drill.
In a moment of self reflection you think right, next year is going to be the year where I work hard. I’ll get fit, I’ll eat healthier and I’ll be ‘living my best life’. (*Cringe* I hate that phrase along with holibobs – why is that even a word?!)
So in that moment of sudden motivation you become the gym’s favourite customer and sign up like every other dummy drunk on mulled wine and fat from too much Christmas pudding.
January goes well, you manage to go to the gym 3 times a week although the goal is 5 times so you don’t feel bad about eating all the cake leftover from the office party. Gyms are at their busiest in January. At peak times, you will struggle to find any piece of equipment going free except those up hill escalator things because who really likes walking up steps for more than 5 minutes? (read: 10 seconds).
By the time it gets to March/ April and the weather is brightening up, you long to be outside instead of staring at a screen that is playing Pointless on repeat. Wait, maybe that game show is trying to tell you something…
Alas, you don’t cancel your membership despite hating every single second you spend in there. Because surely, the more you go the more you will start enjoying it right? RIGHT? Wrong!
Why are we pushing ourselves to do something we don’t enjoy? I understand not every form of exercise is going to be joyful and you have to push yourself to see results but (and this is the shocking part) the gym isn’t for everyone.
There I said it. Gyms are like zoo’s. There’s the beefcakes in the corner, lifting bigger weights than they’re able to, veins popping from every angle, the person who breathes too loudly (and believe me their breath is not pleasant), the person who plays their music too loudly, men in vests and equipment hoggers and queuers. Makes me hate people even more than I already do.
Stop feeling pressured to be like everyone else
I started going to the gym because I felt I had to. Most other people my age were, so why wasn’t I? Also, how expensive is good gym wear?! An arm and a leg apparently.
Going to the gym is like going to a fashion show. You have to have the latest sports bra that looks good underneath your cashmere running top and those sleek lycra leggings that cost more than a fur coat. Oh and don’t forget the designer trainers, water bottle, fitbit, headband, headphones, jacket and armband that will set you back at least £500. Wait, and you need more than one outfit for the gym – you’ll have to fork out your entire year’s salary then.
I’m joking (mostly) but you get the gist. The gym is a black hole that makes you spend money and to be quite honest, makes you feel worse about yourself when you don’t go or have a ‘bad workout’.
That’s the cynical part over, let’s move onto the positive part of this post because there is one, I promise!
How I stopped feeling pressured to go
It’s simple really, I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me anymore and I don’t take online trends to heart.
If I read a blog post about someone’s life that has been changed by going to the gym, I don’t think ‘Omg, I need to do that too and the same thing will happen for me’ I think: ‘ That’s great, good for them.’
Live by that attitude and you’ll be just dandy. It’s hard to in the social media age when there’s beautiful people achieving great things every day but you too will achieve your own great things.
My next tip would to be to find a hobby you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be exercise related but do something that makes you feel good. I love exercise classes. There’s one I go to which combines aerobics and dance and every time I go and do those routines, I feel myself smiling at how good it feels. Because, I know I’m good at it. I pick routines up fairly quickly and I love going every week and feeling like I’m part of a relaxed dance class and have lost a few calories at the same time.
That’s all I need – a once a week exercise class to get me up and moving after 7 hours behind a desk. I’d like to start going twice a week but I don’t feel pressured to do more than that because I know I won’t enjoy it.
Luckily, I have been blessed with a pretty good metabolism, meaning I don’t gain weight easily. I know this means I will probably feel less guilt than someone who does gain weight easily and thinks they should go to lose weight. I get that but ask yourself, are you going because you enjoy it, or are you going because you think you have to?
Don’t strive to be like everyone else, just be yourself and see where life takes you.