I’ve always been athletic but have never loved going to a gym. In the past, I’ve found gyms to be expensive and a little scammie with hidden fees and long-term commitments. I would always tell my friends how it didn’t make sense to pay a gym membership to use a stair climber when you could just run up and down the stairs at home for free.
I’m sure a lot of people have also faced the problem of starting a gym membership, losing interest, then keeping that gym membership because you keep telling yourself you’re going to go back. At this point, you’re just being charitable and that is literally why gyms are so successful.
I’ve had one gym membership in the past: it lasted six months and I only used the Elliptical machine. I refused to lift weights in fear of getting too bulky and to be honest, I just didn’t see myself fitting in with the weight lifters at the gym (but maybe I was just intimidated).
That’s why I almost passed up the opportunity of attending a gym with my partner, Gerald, when he asked me what I thought about signing up. We both work from home, in a small apartment, and have been finding we aren’t nearly as productive as we could be. We both complain we are easily distracted by the other, by the food in the fridge, by calling the handy man to fix the stove, by impromptu dance parties, the list goes on. So, to implement a bit of routine where we could spend time together while exercising and then come home, shower, get ready for the day, and get to work at our separate desks, we might find we are both more productive.
The idea seems great, but it is centered around going to the gym on a regular basis and full disclosure: I’m a quitter. Usually in the spring, I get all pumped on a workout regime, then over a few weeks life happens, my interest wains, and I give up. I have a hard time maintaining balance and I usually push something to the back seat, like going to the gym. This time, I decided to share my progress on the blog so that I’m held accountable to more people than just myself. I’m also sharing my challenges and my successes because I’m sure that there is somebody else out there that has had a similar experience in the past and maybe my story can help in some way.
Also, I was fresh out of ideas on how to be more productive and I haven’t won the lottery yet, so I decided to try it! And it’s working in more ways than I expected.
The Benefits of Joining a Gym
After three weeks of going to the gym with my partner, here’s what I have learned:
My Mood Has Elevated
I feel great about myself for exercising on a regular basis. Living in a world where most people are either stressed, anxious or depressed, selfcare has become a huge priority. Regularly attending a gym has decreased my stress levels, given me an outlet for any pent-up aggression or negative feelings, and made me accountable for my own health. I feel more confident when I look in the mirror and overall, I feel happier and more energetic throughout each day than I did before I started attending the gym.
The Gym Offers an Escape from Reality
When I’m in the gym working out, I do feel separated from reality a little bit. During a workout, I concentrate on my exercises, my muscles, and my heartrate so there is not a lot of room for stress and responsibility. I can temporarily set aside my To-Do List or anything else I might be worrying about and just submerse myself in my workout.
Having a Workout Buddy is Helpful & Fun
I have found that having a partner for workouts has provided me with the support and accountability I need to drag my ass to the gym. There is also time to chat, we can be a little competitive with each other which helps to achieve personal goals, and the gym is not so intimidating with another person. When you work out with your partner, there’s also the added benefit of eating healthier together at home and being accountable to somebody. Check out my other article, Why You Should Lift Weights with Your Partner, where I delve more into the benefits of lifting with your significant other.
I Push Myself Harder
As I said before, I’ve always been active. I go out for walks, do some exercises and stretching on my mat, tackle some HIIT exercises with my weights, and attempt movement with my resistance band (still haven’t quite figured that one out). But I never really pushed myself. Now after a gym session I feel worked out. My arms are sore, my legs feel stronger, and I’m sleeping like a baby. I step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in a new way. Here’s a look at our weekly workout to five you an idea on how I am pushing myself.
Everyday Activities are Getting Easier
My energy levels have increased since attending the gym making every day activities quicker and easier. Carrying groceries up the stairs of my third-floor walk-up isn’t such an arduous task anymore and I find I’m opting for the stairs instead of the elevator or my bike instead of the car.
The Routine Helps Me Be More Productive
I’ve stopped spending so much time in my pajamas in front of my computer. Now when I wake up, I look forward to having something to do outside of the house. I eat breakfast, throw on my gym clothes and head out the door. After a workout, I shower, get ready for the day, and then tackle my To Do List more focused and less distracted.
I Need More Sleep
I have been sleeping eight to nine solid hours a night since I started hitting the gym. In the evening following a hard workout, my body uses sleep to recover so I find I will fall asleep a minute or two after my head hits the pillow. I also have more energy throughout the day, which allows me to be more active and productive and therefore more tired mentally as well.
I Am Stronger Than I Thought
Like I mentioned earlier, I have never really lifted weights and enjoy cardio more. Now that I’m on a workout routine of both cardio and lifting weights, I’ve realized I can perform exercises with more weight and I have more stamina than I thought.
Nutrition Has Become Extremely Important
There is no point in attending a gym if you continue to eat poorly. Like I said earlier, working out with my partner has made it easier to eat healthier at home because he’s into it too. So, we get the added benefit of eating cleanly.
I also started counting my calories. I have never been on a diet and never really thought about of food as fuel until I started going to the gym. Once I signed up, it seemed pointless to pay for a membership, workout regularly, be committed, and not see any results because I am eating too much or consuming the wrong foods. At first, I found the process fascinating because I really had no idea how many calories were in the food I was eating, and I’ve discovered I can still be full on foods I like, even while I track.
I did stop after four weeks of calorie counting. You can read why I stopped and all the benefits in my article The Pros & Cons of Counting Calories.
If counting calories sounds stressful to you, then you probably shouldn’t do it. There are other ways to better nutrition that don’t involve much math, like portion control or keeping a food diary. You do you.
We joined Planet Fitness
I do think the gym you decide to join influences whether you continue attending. We joined Planet Fitness here in London, Ontario and so far, we’re loving it. I’m in no way sponsored by Planet Fitness. This is just my honest opinion after attending the gym for three weeks.
One of the reasons why I am against gyms is the cost and commitment. Sign up fees, hidden fees, monthly fees, cancellation fees, and long-term commitments make a gym membership seem more like a scam to get your money and less like an organization helping you get fit. But not with Planet Fitness. We signed up for the Black Card Membership during a $1 CAD dollar sign-up fee promotion and our monthly fee is $21.99 CAD for both of us to attend. The only other fee will be the Yearly Membership Fee on June 1st for $33 and although I can’t find it listed on the website, the staff member that signed us up and gave us a tour was very open about all the fees.
I can go to Planet Fitness whenever I want. Living in southern Ontario it’s always a guessing game as to what the weather is going to be. It can be a beautiful sunny day and then five minutes later, hailing out of nowhere. It’s crazy. Having a gym membership allows me to work out on my own schedule, regardless of the weather. I can listen to my body and workout when it’s best for me. Planet Fitness is open 24/7.
Has Most Equipment
Aside from a rowing machine, Planet Fitness does have all the equipment I could possibly need for an effective workout. For serious lifters, Planet Fitness might not be adequate, but there’s plenty of workouts I can do with the equipment provided and some that I wouldn’t be able to do at home.
Click here for a more detailed look into Planet Fitness.
Why You Should Join a Gym
To conclude, I think I was wrong about the gym. In general, gyms have more workout options than I can find on my own, even the inexpensive ones. And for me, the gym is a lot more than just a tough workout. It is time spent with my partner which I feel has brought us closer, time to unplug and destress, and a place where I can work on my own health. All-in-all, I would highly recommend it.