The Secret Your Gym Doesn’t Want You to Know

The Inspiration

My last week was spent traipsing through the beautiful state of Oregon.

While most of the hotels I stayed in had gyms, most of my physical activity was gym-free.

I hiked in Crater Lake National Park, explored Bend by foot, and walked miles through Washington Park (enjoying the inimitable Rose and Japanese Gardens) and downtown Portland.

The trip was invigorating and reminded me to share the secret your gym doesn’t want you to know.

The Gym Trap

Gyms can appear so enticing. They lure you in with introductory pricing; give you hard sales pitches for add-ons and protein bars; then promise you’ll look like a body builder/fitness model. For a few weeks you may be excited and go every day!

And then something happens. Life and work get busy. You realize you want to spend time with family and friends in the evenings. Decide you cannot get up at 5 am anymore. Find you have a huge deadline. Realize the commute or parking situation is not working.

Six months later you find yourself still paying the monthly fee, but only going to the gym a few times a week, at best. Sound familiar? This was my story from nine years ago.

The Secret

So the big secret gyms don’t want you to know?

You don’t need a gym to get a great work out.

All you really need is your body.

That’s right. You can be active, healthy, and meet your wellness goals all without a gym.

Why I Don't Have a Gym Membership

Here’s why I currently don’t have a gym membership:

  • Outdoor exercise makes me happy (so I do it).
  • There are no gyms that are walkable from my home (and the idea of driving to one feels odd to me).
  • I want total flexibility when I exercise (I despise adhering to “hours”).
  • Most of the cardio machines at the gym don’t allow me to interval train at the intensity I desire (or have annoying lines).
  • I love the freedom of putting on my exercise shoes and doing something different each day (I’m a gal who wants to be free).
  • Smelly or dirty gyms completely gross me out (I can’t help it).

If you adore your gym, your body feels great with the exercise you do there, and you’re meeting your fitness goals, that’s great! Keep up the good work and rock on.

However, I’ve worked with hundreds of patients that join gyms as a way to get healthier,  but the gyms turn out to be wellness barriers.

If this is you, I have great news! There is plenty you can do without the gym. And plenty you can do without extra equipment and gadgets.

So if your gym is a barrier to your workout success, exercise on your own terms. Have gym-free sweat sessions!

Gym-Less Exercise Tips

If the idea of gym-less exercise seems intimidating, fret not. Here are three tips to make your gym-free sweat session a success:

1. Make a date with yourself. And don’t stand yourself up.

Schedule time for yourself to get your sweat session on. This ensures you actually complete your exercise. My personal preference is first thing in the morning.

2. Make a great playlist.

Everyone has different taste in music. Have fun and make a playlist that gets you excited to move. Clinical studies show music cadence has a physiologic response (aka when you have upbeat music, your body responds in an upbeat manner).

3. Mix it up.

Every day is something different for me. This ensures I activate multiple muscle groups and prevents overuse injuries. Today was high intensity interval training and a resistance training circuit. Tomorrow will be my long run of the week. This weekend will include resistance training and yoga. Check out The ABCs of Wellness for more details on physical activity.

Bottom line: you need to move your body everyday. If gyms work for you, fantastic! If cost, location, or timing of a gym hinders your activity, you can ditch it and still have a wonderful exercise regimen.

Purposeful movement is something I feel deep passion for and why I'm a certified group exercise instructor. Exercise is a key part of any wellness regimen. Working out with the gym is one way many of my patients have improved their activity levels. Do you have any gym-free exercise tips to share? If so, drop me a line!

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