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10 Real Reasons We Go to the Gym

10 Real Reasons We Go to the Gym

Gyms make great people-watching, almost like state fairs. It’s easy to plant yourself on a machine to watch the comings and goings, playing the game of Who’s-Here-to-Actually-Workout. Sometimes it’s obvious there are people who use the gym for purposes almost contrary to the likely expensive membership for which they’ve paid.

But those of us who go to the gym regularly know the true reasons we’ve shelled out big bucks for our memberships:

1. To win stuff

Just like any other business, gyms have to lure in customers for those memberships, as membership-based businesses typically have a high turnover. One of the most frequent and most successful ways to generate more members is to offer prizes. Gyms will often hold raffles for equipment such as mountain bikes or free months of memberships for those who sign up during a certain period. Others will offer discounts for teachers during back-to-school months.

2. Work incentives

Sometimes, work makes us go to the gym. Or at the very least, it provides us with the motivation to do so through health initiatives promoted by human resource departments and wellness committees. Offices aren’t just idea incubators. They can be germ incubators, and the healthier the employees, the healthier the organization. Absenteeism rates are lower for firms with employees who work out regularly and eat healthy diets.

Paying for even a portion of employees’ gym memberships can be a cost-effective way of maintaining a productive workforce. Plus, this does a lot for morale.

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3. To multitask

Some of us go to get in a workout, but also use that opportunity to get other types of work accomplished. I’m finishing my MBA online, so I use the flexibility technology has brought to school to get some homework done while I set on the recumbent bike. I have definitely been known to bring my tablet with me to read an e-textbook.

There are other people who use the gym as a means to get work done as well. I use my tablet for homework, but some might use it to run their business from an elliptical. The coffeeshop isn’t going to work for everyone.

Of course, multitasking at the gym requires that you still have to be respectful of those around you. If you are indeed working remotely, don’t be the one doing so by shouting into your Bluetooth. Your phone belongs in your locker unless it’s acting as your jukebox.

4. To scam dates

We’ve all seen these people. I was the obvious target of one of these guys just the other day. I was on a treadmill in the corner, and there were eight or 10 empty treadmills between me and locker room, from whence he came. Did he pick any of those treadmills? Nope. He picked the one next to me. Did I mind the attention? Of course not, but when I go to the gym, I’m at the gym. Unless I’m also doing homework. And I’m likely wearing headphones.

If you are there to scam dates, make sure you know how to read people, and pick the ones who are there for the same reason. Body language is a great indicator. If I’d subtly taken out my headphones before that guy hopped on the treadmill next to me, that would have been a pretty good clue. Instead, I kept them in to finish my walk, and when I left, so did he.

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5. To socialize (besides scamming dates!)

Some gym rats go for other social aspects of the gym besides scamming dates. Gym classes like Zumba and yoga are great ways to get fit and meet people. Sure, you might have to get your chatting done in between breaths and during water breaks, but a good gym class can open doors to friendships and myriad other opportunities. You might meet your next, greatest business partner on the Pilates apparatus next to you. Or your new best friend.

At the very least, socializing at the gym can lead you to a new workout buddy. Having a workout buddy might make you more successful at the gym, if that is indeed your goal. Workout buddies compel us to keep appointments for those workouts; they also make workout time go by much faster, and if your workouts are intense, that can be quite helpful.

Plus, a little competition never hurt anyone. I don’t work out with anyone, but I do share my Fitbit statistics with a couple of good friends, and we love to see who’s “winning” the week. Because I have a desk job, I’m typically last, but the motivation of catching up to the landscaper does help.

6. Get a break from our families

There are times when you just need a break. The kids are in bed, and it’s time for someone to get some mommy or daddy time. Play a pre-gym game of Rochambeau to see who gets to use the family pass, and head out for some personal time.

7. The perks

Some gyms go above and beyond the call of duty for members. Certain membership levels get certain perks, like access to spray tan rooms and hydro massage beds.

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Free sessions with personal trainers are a good reason to go to the gym. I’ve definitely signed up for gym memberships before simply because those were on offer. Cheaper training packages have drawn me in as well. I was recently injured, but not enough to warrant physical therapy. Working with a trainer definitely drew me back to the gym, and it goes a long way when these sessions are inclusive.

8. Cheaper than buying the equipment yourself

How many gyms today have good, old-fashioned rowing machines? Not very many. The last gym I used certainly didn’t, so I looked into buying one for myself.

Given the fact that most pieces of gym equipment, whether they are made for the fitness industry or the home gym, are more than $200, the combination of swag I can get through the gym makes the gym cheaper in the long run. Why buy a rowing machine for my house when I can go to the gym and use many more machines and a swimming pool?

9. New clothes!

When I started going to the gym again regularly, it wasn’t just to go to the gym. It was so I could walk into any clothing store I wanted, pull any piece of clothing from the rack, and be able to wear it. Is that a superficial reason to go to the gym? Certainly. However, one could argue that going to the gym to work out is just as superficial.

Self-esteem is a good thing, and one way of boosting self-esteem is by buying yourself something new. Boosting self-esteem involves doing activities like practicing self-care, and going to the gym is a great way to do so. Even buying a new outfit, one you’d never have fit into before going to the gym regularly, is a form of self-care.

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10. To actually get healthy

Of course, when you cull from all of the previous nine, you’re likely to get to this reason for going to the gym: to actually get healthy. When I was in high school, I lifted weight every day. Then I let myself go.

Thanks to poor choices, I was headed straight for Type 2 Diabetes, one of the most devastating chronic illnesses in the United States. The gym has been my salvation, in more ways than one. It has even led me out of the gym and into the hills for hiking. But I’ll always come back to the gym because of what’s it done for me.

Featured photo credit: Jusben via mrg.bz

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H. E. James

Writer and researcher

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Published on September 21, 2018

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

“Can I look like you in 3 months?”

The teenager stared at me, waiting eagerly for a response. It’s a normal day as a certified fitness coach and yet again, I had to grab some flying feet and put them down on the ground of reality again.

“If I would be able to reach this body in 3 months, you think it would’ve taken me 5 years?” I responded smilingly.

In the same moment I tapped the teenager on the shoulder and we both went to the training floor together. Fast forward to today, he eventually reached his dream body. But it took him a little bit longer than 3 months.

In this article, I want to give you a broad overview and answer to the commonly asked question: how long does it take to build muscle and increase fat loss?

Your biggest enemy for building muscle and fat loss

I remember when I joined my first gym years back. After two weeks of continuous training, I saw absolutely no difference in the mirror.

I googled “2 weeks body transformation” and was frustrated by seeing all these pictures by savvy marketers.

We human beings have evolved to seek instant gratification. We can’t wait for things to happen tomorrow. We want them today or even better, yesterday.

It doesn’t matter if we talk about business or our fitness results. If we truly want to make a long-lasting change, we have to delay our innate need to crave gratification instantly and focus on the big picture.

In the book called Grit by Angela Duckworth, a predictor for future success in children was the so called ‘Marshmallow Test’.

The Marshmallow Test works this way. Children are basically given two options:

  1. Eat the marshmallow in front of them right now.
  2. Wait 10 minutes without eating the first marshmallow and get a second marshmallow to eat on top.

This is an insane test of willpower and the ability to delay gratification for an even bigger payoff, as a 10-year old school child. If the child already mastered that crucial skill at such a young age, it was a strong predictor for future success.

We all have to learn how to delay gratification better. Most people overestimate what they can do in one month, but totally underestimate what they can do in 10 years.

What you really need to build muscle fast

Your ground zero

It all matters on which point we start off. Because the reality is:

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Everyone has to start somewhere.

A former Olympic athlete will have an easier time building muscles and losing fat than an avid couch potato. There are mainly two reasons for this:

  • The pre-selected genetic blueprint of the athlete.
  • Work ethic of a professional.

While countless of variables play a role in influencing your success in the gym, it all can be traced back to those crucial points. And the saying still holds merit:

Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. — Tim Notke

A mentor of mine told me years ago that you can succeed in life if you just don’t give up.

You can have average skills, average genetics and average work ethic. As long as you keep improving on your craft, you will succeed.

Not immediately – but definitely and finally.

Setting the right expectations

I’m great at setting unrealistic goals and having the wrong expectations. I wanted to have 100,000 subscribers on my Youtube Channel and at the end of my first year when I started, back in 2015, I ended up with 30.

This is an embarrassing story, but I hope it gets one point across:

Your goals need to be realistic if you can’t deal with the setbacks of not reaching them.

Ending up with 30 subscribers even after pulling frequent all-nighters to get this endeavor rolling was soul-crushing. I contemplated throwing in the towel.

With the right support from my network and discipline, I managed to keep going. The channel has now grown 100-fold in those 3 years.

To find out what is realistic, consider the next timeline.

The muscle growth timeline

Here’s what results you can expect if your main goal is building lean tissue mass. Warning: Genuine muscle growth without performance enhancing drugs takes a long time.

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Of course these time periods can vary individually depending on your genetic blueprint and work-ethic. You might see results sooner, or maybe even later.

The time frame is set to training 2-3 times per week (continuously!).

Pro tip: Ask a friend or hire a coach to boost your progress tremendously.

This is what happens when you decide to join a gym, out of my experience training hundreds of clients:

Month 1-3

Eat – Sleep – Gym – Repeat.

Your motivation is at your peak at this point. You will tell your friends and family about your new workout regime. You will notice slight differences in your appearance, which are mainly nonexistent.

You will experience immense strength gains on your training because your body finally realizes how to use its muscles properly.

Month 3-6

This is the time period where most people break. You will be going to the gym consistently, yet the results won’t come just now. It’s the big dip in the whole process.

Your goal in this phase is to build a habit around your gym visits. You will most likely discontinue to have the all-in mentality as in the first 3 months. You will seek sustainability. Breaking news: It will still be hard.

But in the end it’s all worth it. Trust me.

Month 6-12

“I’ve seen a new vein in my arm!”

The guy came up to me excited. This is the time where the normal person starts to see considerable results in his training.

An old friend will talk to him and see a difference in his body shape. Suddenly, his old t-shirt gets too thin. The frequent gym-goer feels amazing.

Month 12- 24

Fitness is a trojan horse. While you might think frequent training will only change your body shape, your character will be impacted too.

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Your friends and family will notice. You’re more confident, assertive and more happy with your self-image. You feel confident and sure in your abilities because you have achieved what you set out to do.

Breaking news:

You will still not be satisfied. And that’s a good thing. But don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

They haven’t come easy.

Month 24+

“That’s what works for me!”

If you’ve been going frequently and consistently (twice every week for 2 years), you can pat yourself on the shoulders.

If you’ve done most things correctly and with a certified coach, you will reach the goal shape at this point. But this is also the point where it can get frustrating.

Further results will come painstakingly slow at this stage. You increasingly have to work on your weaknesses and constantly alter your training to see further results. Be it applying different repetitions, intensity, workout duration, speed or machines.

A lot of people will not see results after this stage because the benefits are not worth the work for them. We have to realize that what got us here, will not get us to the next level.

The fat loss timeline

If you’re trying to lose fat, I have 2 pieces of news for you:

  1. It will come faster. Fat loss has a shorter timeline.
  2. It will be exactly as hard as building muscles, if not harder.

Here’s what you can expect if you’re starting to lose weight. Here again: Proper guidance can speed up the process.

Month 1

“I’ve lost 10kg in the first week!”

Your results will come fast. Too fast.

You will feel exhausted. Most of your weight that you lose will be water. This is the big dip in the whole weight loss process.

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The shocking news: Most people stop their diet in the first month.

Month 2-3

You will reconsider your dieting strategy and opt for more sustainability. You will reintroduce “bad foods” in your diet that you’ve most likely blocked out in the first two weeks or month.

Because balance (and not quitting your diet) is more important to you at this stage than seeing rapid weight loss. Your life quality will increase at this stage.

Month 6-12

At this time frame, you have probably lost more than 10kg. The majority of the people looking to lose weight will be satisfied with their results and shocked by how much of a difference it makes in their appearance.

You will feel more confident, more energized and more self-assured. You would’ve never guessed that you could make it, that you could finally lose your weight – yet you did!

And everyone will notice. “What happened to you?!” – your friends will ask you jealously. Old crushes of you will suddenly initiate contact again just to know what you’re “up to this weekend”.

The fat loss after this stage will come slowly if you haven’t been obese to start with. The goal at this stage is to have created a rock-solid habit out of your gym and eating patterns.

Then you don’t have to worry about the Yo-Yo effect.

Conclusion

“You changed my life!”

The same teenager took me aside at a Monday evening. He had his first date the weekend prior. Apparently it went well.

In the whole time frame we worked together, he built up more than 10 kilograms of muscles. It took him more than 2 years. Yet I’m sure if you’d ask him today, he would tell you that it was all worth it.

Focus on the things that you can control. Losing fat or building muscles might be an overwhelming task to start out with. We have to delay our innate need for instant gratification and focus on the things that we can control.

Changing our genetic blueprint or the responses our muscles have to the training stimulus is not in our hands. But training at least 2 times per week, eating the right foods and setting the right goals and expectations is.

Featured photo credit: Arthur Edelman via unsplash.com

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