All throughout my journey, I’ve gone from being a gym bunny to a home workout queen and to a gym bunny again. Though I’m a gym bunny again currently, the bulk of my success came during a time when I wasn’t using the gym at all.
That being said, I think there are totally legitimate reasons to get the gym membership, and there are reasons to just say no:
1) Resources. Countless weight training machines? Check. Free weights, medicine balls and kettle bells of varying weights? Check. Yoga mats, yoga blocks, blankets? Check. [Hopefully] knowledgeable teachers, trainers and instructors? Check. TRX bands, cross fit boxes and ViPR tools? Check. A variety of cardio training machines? Check. Steam room? Check. Foam rollers, big giant exercise balls and resistance bands? Check. If you require the extra support, a good gym is going to have everything you need. It’s going to provide all of that for you.
2) Sanctuary. My health club is my sanctuary. It is my space away from the kitchen, away from the family, away from my desk, away from work, away from all the other responsibilities I have to tend to… away from, well, everything. I go there to focus on me. That’s it. No excuses, no interruptions, nothing. Just me, my mat, my weights, my treadmill, my mind.
3) You’re paying for it… use it. Some people are motivated by the old “well, since I paid my money for it, I’d better use it” mantra. If you’re cheap – like me – and want to squeeze every single dollar’s worth of value out of something you’re paying for, then you might be more motivated to use something you’re paying a good portion of money for. Just saying’… ‘because I’ll be damned if I pay a gang of money for something and don’t use it.
4) Classes. If you’ve got a nice, big, quality gym, then chances are you’ve got access to an amazing list of classes that you could take. Yoga, pilates, boxing, Zumba, step aerobics, Ass Kicking 101, spin, hip hop aerobics, soca aerobics… all kinds of stuff. If you get tired of one, you have the free opportunity to simply switch up your schedule and take another one. Gotta love “free.”
5) When you walk through the door, you know it’s time to get in the zone. For me, there’s something about walking in the door, swiping my card, putting down my gym bag… and getting ready for business. In my head… I’m hearing the music from Rocky. In my mind, I’m ducking and dodging like Muhammad Ali. Floating like a butterfly. Stinging like a bee. Ain’t nobody on that floor that can lift like me.
Did I say too much? Whatever. Mind your business.
Like I said – just like there are reasons to take the plunge, there are reasons to just say no:
1) You run the risk of letting little things get in the way on your way there. If you’re a newbie, it feels like every single trip to the gym feels like an opportunity to duck and dodge actually going. It’s hard to get over the initial “Ugh… but I don’t wanna go!” feeling, and things like “Oh, look – the post office! I can’t go to the gym… I need to buy stamps!” can become great ways to wind up not going to the gym at all.
2) It becomes an excuse. If your sole source of working out is, in fact, your gym, then it becomes a problem if something “comes up” and you “can’t get to the gym,” or “the gym closes soon” or even “there’s no gym in the area where I’m traveling.”
3) You’re paying for it… could that money be used wisely elsewhere? Listen – some of us have financial goals, and paying a monthly fee to an outside resource (for something that you could just buckle down and do at home) might get in the way. Totally makes sense for affordability to be an issue, because the prevailing reason behind why I didn’t have a gym membership for a long stretch of time? I was a single parent, and even when I “had the money,” I didn’t “have the money.” I think that’s totally fair.
4) Creativity. It’s nice to have all those classes, but what about all the awesome DVDs you can take advantage of, that’ll help you get your heart rate going and have you set for that full hour? You can just as easily, over time, build a reliable arsenal of DVDs, equipment and jogging paths to get your activity level up. Not only that, but if you’ve got a “fit park” nearby – parks that have workout equipment interspersed throughout the path through it – then you might develop a habit of turning things like benches into triceps dip/side plank/push-up assistants. Just saying’. Every solid structure can easily become a piece of workout equipment, if you’re creative enough.
5) Working out at the gym promotes an element of silence – no one wants to be bothered, and no one cares to bother you. Outside is…. well, it’s outside. You can be social. You can make the outdoors your workout center. You can join groups – like Black Girls Run! – and make fit-focused friends and travel that road together. As much as I love my health club, there’s nothing better – to me – than being able to give a smile and a head nod to another person as we pass each other by on the trail. Who knows – you see them often enough, they might even speak… and you’ve made a new friend. The guys can head over to a local basketball court, join a team and make friends… maybe it’s time we started doing the same on the trail.
Even with all the reasons to be an at-home warrior, I’m still a gym bunny. Why?
Do YOU feel this heat outside? No. Thank. You. I like my workouts with a dash of industrial strength air conditioning that I’m not paying for, please and thank you.
All jokes aside, are you a gym bunny or an at-home warrior? Which do you prefer, and why?