Goodbye Gym: It’s Not Me, It’s You

By Ashley Robinson

I still remember it like it was yesterday.

We came to an amicable agreement to part ways, only a few tense words were exchanged. I said my goodbyes, I packed my bag and I walked out into the stormy night.

I stood there in the rain, so uncertain of how I would move on.

What had I done?! Where would I go? Why couldn’t I have just kept this façade going?

I had finally broken up with my gym, and I was scared.

I had never NOT been part of a gym before. I’ve always had some membership card in my wallet, that ticket to endorphins and (insert goal jean size here … ok, or first runner-up goal size away).

The fact of the matter is that I took my gym for granted. I hardly ever went. I felt like I was throwing my money down a rat hole that could have been spent toward paying off debt, paying for a wedding, paying for a new pair of shoes (oh, wait, I wasn’t supposed to add that). I would go probably once a week, and even that was an effort.

And then when I’d be there, I would have total ADD. Should I jump into a class? What machine should I get on? Oh, that machine I really, really want is being used, I should just go home. You know, stupid distractions like that.

And when I did earnestly want to go, the gym would be closed. Seriously, Sunday is the only day I ever really feel like exercising, and the gym I belonged to is not open on that day. (Um, reason numero dos for quitting. And I had to pay for it to be closed for two weeks every August …but don’t even get me started.)

Television=New Workout Buddy

Just like in a relationship … it’s not always a two-way street.

I’m getting married in a few months! I want to lose as much weight as humanly possible without moving over into crazy mode. What had I done?! Why did I leave the gym when I needed it most?

But, whew, I have moved on (… this is what we call a “first world” problem …). And I’m not just talking rebound. I think I have found something steady, something that works for me, and something that will never leave me, no matter where I go or what I do.

I have found a new workout buddy: my television.

Before I quit my gym, I had considered giving up my cable subscription. It’s so expensive, and I don’t even get HBO! But then I discovered how awesome the “On Demand” Exercise TV is.

(Unlike other contributors to this blog, I am not motivated enough to get into running. I grew up as an athlete – a distance runner, actually – used to coaches screaming at me to keep moving … so as an “adult” I am incapable of working out without a drill sergeant.)

I also have started a small library of work out DVDs. Well, I have one, and my friend gave it to me. It’s a Women’s Health Wedding Workout video by Marie Forleo, and it is amazing. It’s the same mix of cardio, upper body, lower body, and ab workout that I was too lazy to do on my own at the gym.

Some nights, at home, I really feel like yoga, and maybe tonight I want a little Kim Kardashian workout – which is phenomenal, by the way. Some nights, I will enjoy the dynamic Bollywood dancing (holy cow, my shoulders were sore for days) and sometimes the Pilates are just too tempting to pass up. I could do a little kick-and-box and then finish up with a standing abs workout. It’s a serious pu pu platter of aerobics, and I can’t get enough.

Now, I am sure all of you out there with a Wii are rolling your eyes like, DUH! “Try bowling, or throwing snow balls or downhill skiing.” Ok. I don’t have one. I’m making do, all right?

Working out at home certainly has its pros and cons, and I’m here to tell you I am noticing more pros than cons as I am fitting into smaller jeans. Take that, ex-gym! (Personal trainers and local gyms are cringing at this … sorry, I really am.)

Pros:

  • You can workout whenever and however you want. Went out after work and now you don’t feel like going to the gym? Too dark to go for a run? Well, turn on the TV. You know you were going to anyway.
  • So much to chose from! Yoga? Cardio? Dance? Boxing? Go for it!
  • Not having to care about what you look like when working out. So what if my dirty tank top doesn’t match my sweat pants? And my mascara is dripping down my face? My fiancé loves me for who I am … right?!
  • Being at home, in your comfort zone but gratified for not being a big ol’ couch potato.
  • A friendlier approach to working out: on your own terms. (Plus, doing a regular video work out is helpful because you remember the transitions and aren’t scrambling to catch up.)
  • No gym membership dues!

Cons:

  • Nothing says vinyasa like obsessing over how dirty your living room carpet is … ok, so you are in your house and it may not be the best place to get focused. Cats crawling on you, people talking to you while you are in some ridiculous lounge, or having to press pause because that throw pillow on your couch is NOT AT THE RIGHT ANGLE AND IT’S REALLY BOTHERING YOU!!
  • No interpersonal interaction with an instructor. I really loved my aerobics instructor at the gym, and was sad to say goodbye. So, there is a little bit of that live interaction missing. (But no one to yell at me if I am doing something wrong in front of a large group of people. God, I hate — hated — that.)
  • It’s not a dedicated space: limitations, moving furniture, not able to jump around if you live on the second floor of an old apartment building, etc. I was working out with filled water bottles instead of real weights for about a month. Not the same, but better than a wine bottle.
  • I’m sure that any personal trainer could point out lots of other cons, but the fact is that I am working out on a regular basis, as opposed to before, and I doubt anyone could argue the merits of that.

Either way, I feel that working out, getting your body fit and feeling comfortable shouldn’t be a forced march to the gym. We all have to find ways to, as Tim Gunn would say, “make it work.”

Some day, I may leave my television for another exercise buddy … but until this recession is recessed and I don’t have wedding bills to pay, you can find me glowing in the warm embrace of my liquid crystal display.

EDITOR’s NOTE:  And if you really need a laugh, check out this website that is dedicated to vintage fitness ads (LINK).  We’ve come a loooong way.

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5 Comments

  1. Patrick "SMEB" Harbison says

    Gym memberships are the absolute worst. Some fierce entrapment right there.

    Just switch to diet coke with your rum and call it a day.

  2. laura braden says

    I love this article and can totally relate!

    Frankly, other than Zuda Yoga and Yoga Loka, I think Sacramento is in serious need of a great gym (realizing that neither of the two places I highlighted are full gyms) that’s not a meat market, closed on Sunday and actually located on the grid!

    What if a Crunch or Equinox (or better yet, a locally owned joint) were to open around L and 20th?? It would so amazing!

    And Patrick, are you really referring to yourself as “SMEB”? Love. But you need to stick “The Honorable” in front of it.

  3. Ashley says

    hahah, patrick, hilarious. both for your ridiculous “smeb” and diet coke with rum.

  4. Caroline Silveira says

    Ashley is officially the funniest writer! I deem it so. Your wit and humor are unparalleled. See Groomzilla.

    And the gym situation in the town is ridiculous. I think we all know which gym was Ashley’s former – ridiculous policies and hours. So, I go to a meathead gym where the guys workout their upper bodies to cartoonish proportions, but I find enough to do there that I like and just ignore them.

  5. Jamie says

    Thanks to this post, I decided that I couldn’t live another minute without Kim Kardashian’s workout video, so I headed to Target at 9 p.m. last night. I then stared at the packaging, which featured Kim in full makeup, a catsuit, and some kind of moonboots, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I bought one of The Biggest Loser workout DVD’s instead.

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