don't like going to the gym

Don’t like going to the gym? Do this instead!

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“I Don’t like the gym…”

Starting to work out is not an easy pursuit. Especially if you don’t like going to the gym. Even if you have been an athlete your whole life or if you were once dedicated to the fit life and fell off, it’s hard to get yourself moving again once you’ve stopped.

What makes things harder is getting the motivation to drive to the gym or the running trail only to find that you’re miserable the whole time. It’s hard to talk yourself into something that you know you’re going to hate doing the whole time; that’s not a recipe for success.

A lot of people will talk about removing negative barriers to exercise like people who do not support your physical fitness pursuit, dropping excuses, keeping a gym bag in your car to remove the time barrier, removing foods you love, or a various number of other hacks.

While things like that will be effective, they can tend to go against human nature, and fighting human nature is hard. I prefer to fight fire with fire and what is the opposite of doing something you hate? Doing something you love.

An Anecdote

To help explain what I mean here, I have a short anecdote that has recently occurred in my life with my family.

My parents have recently been on an amazing journey to find their fitness lifestyle. I have seen incredible amounts of progress made by both of them and am incredibly proud of them for their work.

For Christmas, my parents decided that they were going to throw the money down and buy one of those nice Peloton bikes. In deciding to do this, they asked me my opinion on them and I told them that an investment in their physical health will always pay you back. The bike arrived and ever since then, my parents and my brothers have been putting down impressive miles every day on that bike.

Both of them have lost weight, their resting heart rates have gone down, and they feel better than ever. Before making this purchase, you couldn’t pay them money to go to the gym and lift weights every day as they do on that bike. You wouldn’t catch either of them running miles on trails around their house. The reason for that is simple: they do not find those things enjoyable. With two kids still at home, busy jobs, and everything else that gets in the way, who wants to add something that they hate to the back end of their day as icing on the cake? Unless you’re a masochist, not many people.

The point is this: my parents had two options. The first was fighting their nature: keep the YMCA membership you have and hope that one day a light will flick on and you will magically love the gym. The second way was expensive, but guaranteed to be enjoyable: pay $2,700 for a bike that stays in your home, can be used conveniently, and is private. My parents love that bike and it shows; they ride the damn thing every day. They love doing the challenges, watching the screen as it goes through exotic lands, and following along with exercise classes. My dad is obsessed with the metrics and my mom loves that she can have a trainer on the screen walking her through a specific workout. There is so much to love about getting on that Peloton bike in the morning before work that they do not even remember paying for it and the fact of a ride being difficult does not hold them back; it does not matter because they love it.

Finding What You Love

$2,700 is a lot to pay for a bike that doesn’t move, but it illuminates what I have been trying to say this whole time: when you do something for the love of it, not even price is a barrier.

Finding what you love to do with fitness may not be easy to think about at this moment and that’s okay. If you start to think about it, your brain will give you an answer in time.

Fitness has many different routes to go down, but in general, they break off into two categories: easy to learn and difficult to learn. Jiu-Jitsu is an amazing form of exercise and it doubles as a self-defense practice, but it will take anyone years to become competent because there is SO MUCH to learn. Riding a bike on the other hand is simple: clip your shoes in and move your legs in a circle.

There are some people who see a mountain and want to climb it and there are others who want to coast down a peaceful river. Figuring out which person you are is the first step to getting yourself active. If you’re the type to see a mountain and want to climb it, a form of exercise that is complicated and challenging would be an excellent fit for you. Conversely, if cruising down a river in a kayak sounds like the way to go, you should pick something simple; in fact, a good kayak costs under $500 and will last you forever!

Here are two lists of quick options that cater to both groups of people:

  1. The mountain climbers:
  2. Martial arts
  3. Rock climbing
  4. Weight lifting
  5. Recreation league sports
  6. Cross fit (slightly different than regular weight lifting)
  7. The river cruisers:
  8. Hiking
  9. Yoga (I highly recommend the Down Dog app for at-home yoga)
  10. Running (treadmill is great or outdoors)
  11. Cycling (stationary or outdoors)
  12. Kayaking/canoeing

No matter what your personality is or your level of inclination to exercise, finding something you love to do that gets your body moving will be so much more rewarding than forcing yourself to do a form of exercise you hate. To find what form of exercise will be best for you, think first about what you would rather do: something complicated that will take a long time to learn, or something that you can pick up right now and do all on your own? Your answer will give you the exact insight into what the best form of physical activity would be for your personality.

Remember, doing something that you love is always easier than doing something you hate. If becoming a fitter version of yourself is on your to-do list, I highly recommend avoiding things you do not want to do and instead find things that you will find enjoyable and easy to do. No matter what the cost is, taking care of your body will always pay you back and as long as you love it, you will have fun and memorable moments along the way.

Jordan Tank, Personal Trainer, Columbus, Ohio

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