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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

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Published on November 29, 2018

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

“I don’t have time”

is the number one excuse people give when they’re asked how come they don’t exercise.

In the book The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, it says that it’s management of our energy levels and not time that is the key to higher performance. If we kept our energy levels in check and made sure that every part of our lives contributed to positive energy levels, we would be able to get more done.

One of those aspects that give us energy is exercise.

Exercise is the fuel that gives us energy and an activity that keeps on giving even if we are sitting around day in the office and in meetings.

Reaping the benefits of a good workout is immediate. We have better focus and concentration; we are more alert and awake; we manage our mood better and have more creativity after a good workout than if we skipped the gym.

If you’d like to get started working out I’m going cover the pros and cons to exercising at different times of the day so that you can find a time that fits for your lifestyle and schedule.

So, when is the best time to work out? Let’s get started!

Working out in the Morning

Most people aspire to exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. If this is you, read on to find out the additional benefits of getting your workout done in the morning.

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Benefits of Morning Workouts

1. The rest of the day is yours

Exercise and lifting weights is a staple and a habit in my life but it’s also the biggest to-do on my list. When I exercise first thing in the morning, then I’m free to do whatever I want the rest of the day. This is why I have a very strong preference of exercising in the morning as oppose to afternoons or evenings.

I schedule my day with my biggest to-dos first while I have the energy and focus at the beginning of the day. But the more I procrastinate about my workout and putting it on my list for later, the bigger that reminder to exercise sits on my shoulder.

My mind feels free when I finish my workout and this is the main reason I get my exercise in as soon as the day allows; and if I have to get up before the sun rises, then so be it.

2. Gyms are less crowded and there is more equipment available

Here’s the best part about working out early in the morning – there is not competition for equipment.

Most people typically struggle with getting up early in the morning except for the elderly. And in the morning, the gym floors are pretty sparse, this means there is no wait for equipment or competing for floor space.

I live in the crowded city of San Francisco where the gyms are packed once it gets to 9 AM, so the best times to get in if I want a squat rack is before 8 AM. Plus, the gym equipment is organized so I can find the free weights I want without much effort and there is usually a bench available.

3. You have more energy and more clarity to fire up the day

After you drag yourself to the gym at the crack of dawn, you will walk out of there with more energy and clarity then when you stepped in. Not only will you wide awake but you have extra energy on top of your cup of coffee.

The extra burst of creativity and focus keeps you productive so that you’re able to make more progress on your projects at work and finish earlier.

4. You become more consistent

The ones who see results are the ones who are consistent and morning people are definitely more consistent than people who postpone their workouts later in the day.[1]

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This is because as the day starts to unfold, unexpected meetings and events come up that can cut into or even eliminate gym time. If you want to workout more consistently, get your workout in first thing in the morning before life happens.

Downsides of Morning Workouts

1. You’re a zombie on the floor

Of course dragging yourself out of bed before the sun rises is why most people struggle with morning workouts. Some of us, like me, don’t want to talk to anyone before a certain time and get really short on a lack of sleep.

To combat morning zombie, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

2. Your preparation starts the night before

Your workout may happen in the morning but your preparation starts the night before. If you’re a last minute person and not a planner, you will struggle in the mornings to get out the door in time.

Packing everything you need for the gym in the morning is the key to getting to your workout in that day. Support successful mornings by modifying your night time routine in order to prepare for the next day.

How to Make It Easier to Wake Up

The first step is to make a commitment and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth the night before on whether you should go to the gym in the morning.

Make the decision to go in the morning and focus your energy on making it happen.

When you create that habit, you do it even if your workout is less than optimal and you’re not completely ‘all there’ or you’re a zombie in the morning. Just keep going because repetition makes it easier and the more often you go, the easier it gets.

Eventually your brain will catch up and start to automatically be awake at those times.

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A question you can ask yourself is what can you do to make it easier for you?

Can you set your workout clothes out the night before? Or have your breakfast prepared the night before? Or if you’re an alarm snoozer, put your alarm across the room and set back up alarms to make sure you get out of bed to shut them off.

Again, what can you do to make it 20 seconds easier to help you get up and out of the door in the morning?

Working out in the Afternoon/Evening

So what about working out in the evening? Is it a good time to help achieve your fitness goals?

Benefits of Evening Workouts

1. Your body performance is at its peak

When you’re training in the afternoon, your warm ups can be shorter because your body temperature increases throughout the day.

A higher body temperature leads to increased flexibility,[2] overall muscle strength,[3] and increased endurance.

Not only does the combination of low blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon lead to faster reaction times and better performance, but also less likelihood injury.

At the same time the muscle growth hormone testosterone also peaks in the afternoon which is great for maximizing resistance training.

2. An accountability partner is easier to come by

If you’re someone who needs accountability partner to make it to the gym consistently, it could be easier to find a workout buddy in the afternoon than it is in the early morning. There is more flexibility in scheduling during lunch or after work as oppose to early mornings because it could cut into your sleep.

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3. You have more class options

If you’re a class person or like to attend group classes, I found that there are more class options in the afternoon/evening times versus mornings. So your favorite instructor may teach a couple more classes in the afternoon during the week giving you more flexibility in your schedule.

4. It’s a great way to destress after a long day

One of my favorite reasons to workout in the afternoon is the relief it provides after a long day at work. This is especially true for those who work long stressful hours. That hour you spend at the gym is dedicated you time to zone out is completely relaxing for the mind.[4]

Downsides of Evening Workouts

1. Consistency could take a back seat

Postponing your workouts till later in the day means you are more likely to skip your workouts because of an unexpected event. You’re also more likely to be low on energy after a long stressful day or you have to stay late at work and cancel your workout.

I find afternoon and evening workouts challenging because I’m ready to wind down after a long day and instead have to find the energy to wind up and be mentally prepared for my workout.

2. Crowded gyms and classes

For the most part, gyms are packed in the afternoon because of the after work crowd and in some cases gyms require you to RSVP to classes ahead of time due to limited spots. Majority of the people prefer working out after work and you’ll see an influx in crowds at the gym.

3. Additional preparation required

Working out after work means you need to be more mindful of your meals and make sure that you have prepared additional snacks to help you get through your workout.

It also means lugging around an extra bag with your gym clothes and other essentials.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout because your body will adjust to your schedule when you go the same times every time. What’s important is that you find a time that you can go to the gym consistently that works with your schedule.

It’s important to be consistent because consistency is what’s going to get you results. The road to results is simple but not easy. Mastering consistency year round is what is going to make you leaner and stronger one year from now.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

Reference

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