The trend in affordable gyms has made it so much easier for many people to exercise year round.
It has also expanded the problem many people have with a gym membership – gym guilt!
In trying to get more exercise, you might be tempted to join a gym because it’s only $10 a month. As you may have discovered, your exercise motivation depends on A LOT of factors so getting to that gym might be not so easy. You may be busy right now and just cannot fit it in. Often, when trying to lose weight, walking into the gym feels like a spotlight is shining on your extra weight. It’s just too embarrassing to go right now. You might wait until you feel better about your body and then you will start.
The bigger problem with these low cost memberships is that they are not expensive enough to make you end the membership if you are not going. When things calm down a bit, or when you lose some weight, you will go, so why cancel it? In the meantime, that membership fee on your credit card statement each month is a constant ‘weight’ on your mind. Its a constant reminder that you are not exercisign the way you ‘should’.
(No, I am not reading your mind, you are just not alone in this. I see it all the time!)
Lets talk about how to lose the weight of that gym guilt. Here are some questions to ask yourself so you can finally make peace with using, or losing your gym membership.
- Is it the commute? Does it take more time to get to and from the gym than its worth? If your time is limited, no matter how inexpensive the membership, you probably will not to choose to spend your time on a gym commute on a consistent basis.
- Is it the environment? When you walk into the gym, how do you feel? Happy to be there or counting the minutes until you can leave? That initial instinct about the gym is so subtle, you may not realize it is the reason your brain finds excuses not to go. Either find a way to make it more comfortable for you or find a new place to exercise.
- Is it the people? There is a definite vibe in each gym. Some are welcoming and friendly in a very authentic way. Some are ‘friendly’ in a “my boss told me to say hello when members walk in so I am going to flash a fake smile and say a cool hello” kind of way. Some gyms are meant for people with very definite exercise goals. If they are not the same as yours, you may feel unwelcome, no matter what you do. Either give yourself a pep talk reminder that the attitude of others is not your concern or find a more welcoming place to exercise.
- Is it equipment overload? It seems that the less expensive the gym, the larger and more daunting it can be. If you feel overwhelmed by the equipment choices in the gym, know that much of that equipment is not useful anyway. Find the machines right for you and stay focused on that. You don’t need to do everything that is in the gym. Get a comfortable routine going and do what you enjoy most. (well OK more than the sauna and massage chairs!) When you are ready for a change, learn only one new machine at a time to stay out of overwhelm.
- Is it too crowded when you go? Rush hour times at the gym are about as much fun as rush hour time on the highway. If the crowds are getting in the way of efficiently enjoying your gym time, and you cannot go at another time, seek alternate routes to exercise.
- Is your body not ready yet? Some types of exercise are not great for starters. The elliptical for instance starts at a higher intensity. If you are just starting out you are likely to feel like a failure in about two minutes flat. Group exercise classes can be motivating but they also are more likely to make you do too much too soon. Gain skills in listening to your body before joining a group. Choose the types that feel best for your body to start and gain some stamina, strength and body knowledge before expanding to other more challenging forms.
- Is it lack of know-how? There is no time in adult life that we learn how to exercise correctly. If you don’t know how to exercise, you are not lacking some skill that everyone else has. There is a lot of useless exercise information available out there, much of it based on what is marketable, not how your body is designed. If it does not feel good, it is not good for you. If you are a UMassMemorial Weight Center patient, contact me to chat about how to strengthen your exercise know-how
Some times the healthiest decision is to let go of the gym membership and exercise at home or someplace else. Most importantly, lose the gym guilt, it’s is not helpful for your mind or your body. There are plenty of other options out there and exercising at a gym is not right for everyone. Find a way to make it work or let it go.
Keep Moving, Be Well,