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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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Last Updated on February 24, 2021

How to Find Workout Motivation When You Hate Exercise

How to Find Workout Motivation When You Hate Exercise

It’s easy to fall into a mindset where you hate exercise. It does, indeed, demand a lot from you. You have to use special clothes, develop a routine and exercise habit, get out of the comfort of your own home, and wear yourself out to the point where you just want to collapse into bed. Fortunately, while there are a lot of reasons to dislike exercise, there are even more reasons to love it.

If you want to stop hating exercises and making excuses to avoid it, here’s how to tackle each one of those exercise excuses, get into action, and give your body the attention it craves.

1. You Don’t Have to Exercise 30 Minutes Each Day to Get Results

Most of us have a number that we think we should hit in order to exercise “enough.” For some people, this is the daily recommended minimum of 30 minutes. For others, it’s 45 minutes of weight-training plus another 45 minutes of cardio.

I’m not going to put up a fight with your number here. What I am going to do is challenge your idea of starting with that number right away. You see, even though 30 minutes a day might not seem like a lot, 30 minutes a day for the next 5 years is actually too much for your habitual brain to process.

So yes, everyone can do 30 minutes of daily exercise for one week. But how many people can do that for the next 5 years?

Starting small has the advantage of bypassing your brain’s fight-or-flight response, the mechanism that make you sabotage yourself when you are trying to do something that seems “big” for too long and makes you hate exercise.

This way, instead of mindlessly starting with an exercise program, you focus on building the habit first, and then once you are exercising a little bit every day, you are ready to expand how much exercise you do.

2. You Don’t Have to Force Yourrself to Do It

If you have to force yourself to do it, then there is a 90% chance that you are doing it wrong, and you will never stick to exercise.

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Some people are motivated by challenges and others pushing them, while others hate it.

If you are one of the people who hate it, stop trying to change yourself, and of course, stop treating yourself as if you were one of those people who are motivated by challenges and being pushed. The more you use this approach on yourself, the more you’ll hate exercise and avoid it in the long term.

Instead, change the way you approach exercise. Stop falling into what I call the “Happiness Paradox Trap.” Instead of starting with what you think you “should do,” start with what feels good.

Maybe weight lifting and running aren’t your thing, but have you tried Zumba or Pilates classes? Maybe you hate the feel of a gym, so try getting into cycling instead. Don’t feel that there’s one right way to go about it, and do your best to make it your own.

3. You Can Regain Motivation Easily

We think that motivation is the answer to sticking to exercise. If only we wanted it enough, then we would make it happen.

However, motivation is always there. If you feel you wish you exercised more, then you are motivated to exercise. If you are not doing it, it’s not because you are not motivated. It’s because something stops you.

It might be the activated fight-or-flight response we talked about in #1. For example, when you feel that you have too much to do, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, and you do nothing.

People who have already made exercise a daily ritual don’t depend on boosting their motivation to get off the couch and exercise. They just do it, naturally, without debating it with themselves, desperately trying to get themselves into action.

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Maybe you think you need to devote 1 hour and you don’t know how to do that. Or, maybe you think you need to suffer to get results. Whatever the real reason is, find it. Only then will you be able to figure out a way to remove the obstacle that is on your way.

4. You Do Need Exercise to Lose Weight

Many people only care about their weight. Yet, our bodies are naturally wired to feel good when we move. Here is a quick list of the benefits of exercise:

  • Decreases the risk of various diseases and bad health conditions, like high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Increases longevity. Many research studies support the fact that exercise can reverse some signs of aging and reduce chances of death by any cause.[1]
  • Improves mood. Exercise does not just help depressed people; it helps everyone, even those who hate exercise. A quick workout or walk stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.
  • Increases your energy levels. Regular physical activity boosts your endurance and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently. And yes, that means more energy available for you.
  • Improves sleep. Regular physical activity can help you sleep better and fall asleep more easily, as long as you don’t exercise a couple of hours prior to bedtime.
  • Improves sex life. Erectile dysfunction? Lack of libido? Just lack of energy? Exercise may help with all of that.
  • Helps you better control your weight. Exercise helps you burn calories, plus you build muscle that generally burns more calories than fat. Exercise is a great add-on to a diet or weight maintenance plan.
  • Gets you better lab results, even if you are overweight. Did you know that an obese person who is fit, i.e., exercises regularly, will show better lab results than a thin person who never exercises?

5. Exercise Doesn’t Require All of Your Attention

Maybe you are currently busy with your work life, or you are planning a trip next week. Maybe your child just got sick and needs your constant attention. Shouldn’t you just wait until you can give exercise 100% of your attention?

This rationale once again sounds plausible, but just like the “I don’t have time” excuse, is it really true? Is not starting because you are not “ready” the best thing for you right now? Is neglecting yourself and your body for a few more weeks/months/years a good strategy?

Finally, how many months or years will you spend before you get all your ducks in a row?

6. Exercise Can Be Interesting

Most advice in response to this excuse tells you to find something that you actually like. Yet, I know that for most people, exercise itself is rarely the thing that makes you hate exercise. Having to do it for “too long” is the issue.

That’s why I said that if 30 minutes are boring, try 5 or 10.

Now, if this idea of starting small stresses you out, let me remind you the wisdom of #1–the fact that you may want to be exercising one hour a day doesn’t mean you have to start from one hour right away. You can start small, and as you feel more and more comfortable, build your way up.

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Getting into a fitness program or hiring a personal trainer for a couple of weeks can also help you find a routine that interests you.

7. You Can Rewrite the Negative Past Experiences

I understand that you came last at the sprint race when you were at school. I understand that you may feel embarrassed when you attend fitness classes. Luckily, your past does not need to define your future.

A client of mine wanted to start jogging. She started by walking around the neighborhood. Yet, she found out she felt really uncomfortable feeling that her neighbors were watching her.

She accepted that, and worked her way around it. Instead of walking around her own block, she walked around the block next to her own block, and the problem was solve. A few months later, she was already jogging 2 miles a couple of times a week.

8. Exercise Doesn’t Need To Be a Hassle

If you think you need to exercise for an hour, take a shower, and drive to the gym and back, then you have two hours gone, just like that. You might like moving your body, but you certainly don’t like having to spend all this time working out!

Luckily, exercise that gets you results doesn’t have to take all this time and scheduling brainpower.

To start, you could do something that takes less time and planning, like exercising at home. You may feel more comfortable if you get to work out within sight of your comfy sofa instead of driving 20 minutes to the nearest gym.

You can also try automating. For example, if you go to the gym after work, make sure your gym bag is ready from the day before, so you don’t have to deal with that during your busy morning.

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9. You Do Have Enough Time to Exercise

Even though we know people busier than us who actually exercise, we keep saying we are “too busy,” and we hate exercise for making us even busier.

Have you ever thought that being “busy” is actually a lie? If there are busier people than you who make it happen, then so could you. Yet, even though we acknowledge that, we still believe it’s true.

It’s time to admit that time is not the main issue. It’s probably the way your are prioritizing things, and you are afraid you’ll have to give up something else in favor of exercise. Whatever the real reason, you need to find it if you want to give your body a chance to thrive.

If you don’t know where to start when finding time to exercise, check out Lifehack’s free 4 Step Guide to Creating More Time Out of a Busy Schedule.

10. Exercise Will Not Take Time Away From Other Things

You might be worried that exercise will take too much of your time, or that you’ll need to give up another hobby or time with your family to do it.

If you don’t want to hate exercise, you must first stop making it the enemy. If it is the thing that will “stop you” from doing other things, you’ll likely never convince yourself that it’s worth it.

However, if exercise becomes the thing that will help you become healthier, be more active for your kids, and focus more at work, it then becomes a necessity that you’re willing to make room for in your life.

The Bottom Line

It can often feel natural to hate exercise. Life is already demanding a lot from us, and exercise is just one more thing we have to squeeze in. However, once you realize all of the benefits you can receive from it, it will feel less like a chore and more like the part of your day you look most forward to.

More on Getting Into the Exercise Habit

Featured photo credit: Minna Hamalainen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Maturitas: Exercise and longevity

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