Why the Gym isn’t Everything
January and the gyms are packed. Dozens of new people are occupying machines all over the place, and the classes are strictly first-come-first-served. Sound familiar? Every year, New Year New You mania takes over and people join the gym to get fit for the year ahead. But by February, gyms are back to their normal level of occupancy. You don’t have to queue for the showers and there isn’t anyone waiting for you to finish on the treadmill for their turn. But why the mania? Why do we think that a gym membership will cure everything and why does it barely last the month?
Rather than forking out for a membership you never use, why not try some free activities? There are running clubs all over the place, and I can guarantee there is a Parkrun within walking distance from where you live. Pay a couple of quid to use a leisure centre swimming pool or lido. Go for walks in parks, or jump off a stop early on your way to work. Hire a Santander bike on your lunch break. There are countless things that are a lot cheaper than £50 a month for a gym membership you use 6 times and then never go again.
The attitude towards health and fitness is strange, sometimes. I lose count of the times I hear “Oh I can’t run” when I say I run, or that people don’t know how to use weights or are afraid of gym classes. As if these are your only options. As if two sessions of BodyAttack will suddenly give you abs and a new-found confidence. None of this is true. Gyms are intimidating places, even for the regulars. But even if they weren’t, they’re not for everyone. Fitness doesn’t have to impact on your bank account, your time or even your friendships. January isn’t the New You; it’s just the first month of another year in which you have twelve months full of opportunities to be a New You. January is the month with Blue Monday, the longest wait between paydays known to man, and rain. It’s not got anything to do with being New.
I will still choose a run in a park over a session in a gym any day. But I know people who use ClassPass once a week to boost their mood or others that jump on a bike in Hyde Park for their lunch break. I know people that choose to walk to work instead of taking the bus, or (for some reason) hop in to the water at Parliament Hill lido. It’s not how you do it, but why you do it that counts. It’s so easy to pay a chunk of money each month to justify that second helping of food, or to use the excuse “I’m off to the gym” when you need to slip away, but is it really worth the money if it fills you with dread?
Pick something that makes you happy. Pick something free, or that costs you a couple of quid a go. Stop fretting about gym memberships and everyone around you and what they’re doing. You do you. No one else does it better.