Glad I Ditched My Gym Membership

This post is a jumbled mess, stream-of-consciousness thing. With so many new subscribers and emails from folks (even a guy at work stopped me today and said he’d heard the podcast!), I feel obligated to write today so here it is….

Glad I Quit My Old-Fashioned Gym

So a few months ago I was in a weird place in terms of fitness. I wasn’t doing anything consistently to stay fit. With my primary goal being to get fit this year, I was not actively making progress towards that goal and was bummed. I had a gym membership with a good gym, but it was a little on the pricey side (as far as your typical GloBo gyms go). So I switched to another that was much cheaper, but after a few visits I realized I just didn’t want to workout in a traditional gym anymore. Knowing that I would gain more benefit from something like Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness approach, I ditched my membership and decided to do playground workouts, etc. It was a great decision, as I don’t miss my gym membership at all. In fact, once I canceled my membership was when I stopped being passive about reaching my fitness goals and became actionable.

The Usual Suspects on the Treadmill

I knew I needed to seek out a real program and commit myself to it, versus doing what the majority of GloBo gym members do: show up and get on a cardio machine for 30 to 45 minutes and maybe do some weights using those goofy machines. That wasn’t working for me. It can for some (not the cardio though, as evidenced by 99.99% of the ‘skinny fat’ people on those machines everyday). So I quit the gym and joined a new one – the free one right outside my front door…

Playgrounds, High School Tracks, and My Backyard

I started with the basics of air squats, push-ups, situps, planks, walking, and some strength training. I was proud of myself for leaving the confines of the gym and trying to ‘program’ my own workouts instead of simply following the chronic cardio crew. And that’s when I quickly realized that I just did not have the motivation to push myself consistently to the point I needed to, or the knowledge of HOW to work out effectively. I knew WHAT to do. That’s all available for free on the internet. But doing compound lifts such as back squat, or bent-over barbell rows, by watching a youtube video didn’t work for me because I am extremely inflexible (physically!).

That’s when I knew I needed something more structured, some personal training. I flirted with the idea of doing a one month kettlebell training class. Kettlebells are awesome and someday I’d like to focus on them. Now just wasn’t the time. I also considered doing yoga, as I loved the Saturday morning yoga classes that my now old gym used to offer (even though I was usually the only guy in the class, which was kind of awkward). After thinking about it for a week I realized that I needed to go all in and try CrossFit. I’d been wanting to do it for a while but didn’t have the balls. It takes balls, too. I give anyone who walks into a CrossFit box immediate props for just having the balls to show up. Most people don’t/wouldn’t ever try it. Last week I noticed an overweight married (I assume) couple show up for the free intro session. They looked to be in their late-forties/early-fifties. They looked a bit nervous and I could empathize with them. But I also was quietly rooting them on and hope they stick around. And not just because I’m tired of being the weakest and slowest in the box : )

So far, so good. While my previous posts have outlined the difficulty of sustaining even a measly two CrossFit workouts per week, a lot of that has to do with me pushing myself during non-CrossFit days. My latest enjoyment is going to my local high school running track and doing a combo of walking and sprinting. I quickly find out that wasn’t a good idea when the next day’s WOD is 30 front squats at 85% of my max. It also doesn’t help that I have been helping a relative with a major kitchen/dining room remodel, which included tearing up tile and hardwood floors and then laying down a boat load of laminate flooring. Those bullshit ads that claim anyone can install a laminate floor are bullshit. I must have done 1000 air squats yesterday while installing that floor. My calves were burning by 1pm and, after going another 6 hours straight, my thighs were even worse.

It hit me today that, with the summer months in full swing, I am really glad I ditched my gym membership. For two reasons:

  1. I would have never joined CrossFit. No way I could afford both.
  2. I prefer doing constantly varied movements, and CrossFit, in just a few weeks, has taught me what real workout intensity is. And I could do all of it outdoors, at the local playground, at the local high school track, my yard, etc. It’s all there and free. I would lose the great benefits of being a CrossFit box member, which include personal coaching and the group atmosphere, which I assure you is 100000x better than what you might find at any other gym/fitness center.

If I’m not still doing CrossFit come winter and the cold season, then I’ll certainly be enrolled in some sort of short-term training like kettlebells or yoga, or possibly just buy some winter athletic wear and embrace the cold and go it alone. Either way, I urge everyone to consider ditching the gym and trying something new. Commit to a baseline program such as Primal Blueprint Fitness, and supplement with short-term courses such as Kettlebells, Yoga, MovNat, etc. Or, if you truly don’t need personalized coaching/programming, then go it alone but do it outside. Cus let’s face it, odds are your local neighborhood is an even better ‘gym’. And it’s free.

And besides….those people that get their workouts by simply hanging from the monkey bars at those NYC playgrounds are just badass.

 

Have you been working out on your own? If so, what do you do, and where do you do it? Leave a comment below!

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