Ode to the Gym, Part 2: Excuses, Excuses

Here you go! I’ve finally gotten around to part 2 of my “Ode to the Gym” series.  Be sure to check out Part 1 if you missed it.

Back when I joined Gold’s last year, I was not financially stable enough to painlessly face my bi-weekly membership bill.  I truth, it’s still not painless.  I wanted to cry every time I put gas in my car, and yet it took less than 5 seconds for me to sign my 1-year Gold’s contract.

I’m not one to let myself be limited by financial constraints.

And yet, the decision which I made in a heartbeat is not so easy for a lot of people.  My mom, for example, refuses to join me at Gold’s and she’s given me just about ever imaginable excuse.  They’re pretty common reasons – I’m not attacking my amazing mom, but she’s a good example of the sort of thing I hear from a lot of people who shun the gym.

Excuse #1: “I’m too out of shape to go to the gym”

We’ve all heard it: “I feel like I have to get in shape before I join.” In reality, this makes zero sense.  I think the real fear is that the gym might be full of super-fit body builders and if you aren’t thin and toned, you won’t be accepted. 

Here’s a secret: if you’ve got a little extra somethin’ on you, lighting will not strike you down if you step into the gym.

In all actuality, the gym is for everybody. Really.  Every. Body. I’ve seen 12 year olds tossing weighted balls back and forth with their parents, and I’ve seen senior citizens in jeans pedaling on recumbent bikes.  The ridiculously muscled lift weights next to the overweight.  A marathoner can run on the treadmill beside the person who likes to leisurely walk and read a book. No big deal!

The bottom line: The gym is about progress.  It’s about returning again and again and, every once in a while, having the amazing realization that you’ve gotten a little stronger.

On a related note, nobody else cares what shape you’re in/how much you weigh/ how much you can lift.  Be there for yourself, not to impress everyone else.  Even in group classes, you should never feel bad if you aren’t as “good” as the person beside you. Exercise according to your own standards and make every class your own.  Make it more intense or less intense – whatever you need in that moment. The only time you should feel inadequate at the gym is if you lay down on the floor and take a nap.

If, however, you fall asleep during Savasana in Yoga class, that’s okay.  Happens to me all the time. Winking smile

Excuse #2: “I wouldn’t know the first thing to do if I walked into a gym

When you’re a new member, the gym can be quite intimidating.  There’s a multitude of strange-looking torture devices resistance equipment.  What if you do something wrong?  Will everyone realize you’re clueless?  Or maybe you’re afraid to lift weights out on the floor because all the bulky guys might think you don’t belong.

At the gym, you can belong wherever the heck you want.

And here’s where the staff comes in.  The Gold’s crew, for one, is fantastic.  They can show you around, instruct you on how to use the machines, and answer your questions.  It’s okay to be clueless; I don’t think I’ve even tried every piece of equipment.

Whatever you do, don’t confine yourself to the elliptical because it’s safe.  I try to be as well-rounded as possible.  Throw yourself into a new class.  Give it three tries before you decide you don’t like a class. Or go for a different cardio machine.  Change your routine.  Your body will thank you and you just might discover a new favorite exercise.

Excuse #3: “I don’t like being around other people when I work out.  I like the privacy of my own home.”

Raise your hand if this is your excuse.  Now keep your hand up if those at-home workouts aren’t as effective as you hoped.  Does exercise time turn into laundry time? If you use a DVD or TV program, have you realized how easy it is to turn it off and quit for the day?  I thought so.

Even if you aren’t a people person, the gym will quickly show you the value of working out with other gym-goers. There’s nothing more motivating than a classroom of people who are pumped and ready to have a good time and a good workout.  It’s infectious!  Also, the longer you go to the gym, the more acquaintances you’ll meet, and I’ve met some truly awesome people.  You’ll even find yourself being motivated by people you don’t talk to: the guy running at an obscene pace on the treadmill?  He pushes me to keep jogging when I want to slow down.

This may sound awful, but when I joined Gold’s, it was with the intention to keep completely to myself.  I didn’t feel the need to be social.  Now, however, I look forward to seeing my classmates and instructors each day.  It is very empowering to surround yourself with people who value health and exercise as much as you do.  These are the people who keep you strong on tired days, who motivate you to show up every week when things get tough.  These are the friends who will counteract those other friends who always talk you into going out for dessert.

Also, you don’t have to be social all the time at the gym.  I’ll usually chat with my classmates for a few minutes before class starts, but once it does, I’m in my zone. 

Excuse #4: “I don’t have time”

Yes you do.

5:30 a.m. Body Pump. I do it every week. The class is full of people of all professions.  Moms, Dads, principals, surgeons.  They all manage it, and they smile throughout the whole class – it’s their time – it doesn’t belong to the kids/hospital/school/company/boss. Stay for just half the class, if you must.

Hitting the cardio and machines at 10:30 at night?  I do it every week.

Even if only one class every week fits into your schedule, do it.

Even if it means getting up early on a Saturday, do it.

You’ll feel better afterward.

Excuse #5: “I tried the gym, but nothing happened.”

Results don’t show up within one week.  For women, especially, change takes time.  It’s slow, but totally worth it.

In fact, I didn’t even notice the changes on my own body (especially the one’s I went through over the summer) until several instructors pointed them out.  I was told that I look great…that I had developed a lot of muscle definition…I was shocked at first! I think it’s important to sort of forget about your physical goals sometimes.  Focus on how exhilarating and mentally freeing activity can be. Focus on having fun and feeling strong. Bodily changes will follow whether or not you’re aware of them.  Then, on that day, when someone tells you you look amazing, the impact is that much more tremendous.

Fat loss and muscle gains happen when you’re not looking.  It’s about perseverance.

Also, you can spend 4 hours a day working out at the gym, but if you go home and eat an entire cake, results simply won’t happen.

One last (important!) note!  If any of these excuses struck a chord with you, or if you’ve been thinking about testing out a gym (and you live in the St. Charles or surrounding areas) let me know!  Gold’s Gym has a FANTASTIC September offer: family and friends are free all month long!  I don’t know the exact details: I might have to be there with you.  But’s that’s not a problem, of course, as I’m there all the time! 

Let me know if you’re interested in trying out a class with me or if you’d just like to spend some time out on the floor there.  I would love to have a new workout buddy!

Have a good Wednesday, every one.  I’m wearing a jacket today and am determined to find a few leaves on the ground!

[Disclaimer: Going to the gym is certainly not the only way to get a good workout.  This time of year is the perfect time to get outside: run, walk, bike, hike, or do some outdoor yoga!  This is simply what works for me, and I find it easier to stay focused on my workout if I’m at the gym vs. at home.  But exercise is exercise, no matter where you are!


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