Why Going to the Gym can be a BIG FAT Waste of Time

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It used to be our routine. The moment my husband walked through our door I’d begin rushing around, trying to get him up to speed on the feeding/napping status  of our baby girl so he could watch her while I went to the gym.

One day I was especially flustered and frustrated with my diminishing window of time. The litany of tasks that stood between me and my workout stacked like barriers in my head. Milk for the baby, shoes, gym bag, membership card, water bottle, car keys. Drive to gym, park, walk in, scan card, get on treadmill…

Suddenly I stopped in my tracks. “Why am I going to the gym?” I asked my husband. Perhaps he, who is a professional athlete and expert exerciser, could think of some reason I needed to be there. Oh they’ve got great equipment. There’s this certain machine that works out this one hard to reach muscle that if stimulated will make you lose a million pounds.

Instead he looked at me and said, “Drop and give me 20.”

I did. Mostly to prove that I could. But I got his point.

My toning and weight loss did not begin as soon as I got to the gym. It began as soon as I started working.

In other words, the faster I got to the free weights the sooner I began to reach my goals.

This brings me to my point. Most of us are wasting massive amounts of time by getting tied up with the process of going to the gym.

Just look at all the negative factors that we have to hurdle just to begin our workout:

-start driving

-get gas

-fight traffic

-find a parking place

-wait to use machinery


Until we finally reach the positive factors:

+do bench press

+kettle bell swings


And then we have to go back up the list to get home.

According to studies by Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University, willpower is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it gets tired. Kelly McGonigal Ph.D., author of The Willpower Instinct writes that, “Many things you wouldn’t typically think of as requiring willpower also rely on—and exhaust—this limited well of strength.” McGonigal goes on to explain that anything one does that requires self-control can deplete willpower. This includes sitting through a long meeting or having a stressful commute.

In other words if we make our workouts, which should be enjoyable and stress-relieving, into a tedious obstacle course of minutia, then it doesn’t make it very easy to comply for the long term. This could lead to skipped sessions here and there on some of our busier days which eventually lead to quitting.

So why not just “drop and give me 20” and do our workouts at home?

There are plenty of excuses.

They have these machines I like.

 Yeah, well most of them either don’t really work or are unnecessary. The same muscles can be worked with free weights or through calisthenics. I prefer a combination of the two along with kettle bell swings.

Well there’s this Zumba class…

Buy a video!

Yeah, but treadmills are expensive.

 Seriously? Get outside! I’ve run in Phoenix 115° and Toronto 2°. It’s never too hot or too cold to run/walk outdoors (Medical issues aside. Consult your physician). Why on God’s green earth are you paying $50 bucks a month to use a treadmill? And if you insist that you really need one, then you can lease it from Leaseville.com for only $52 a month, and your compliance rate will be much higher. treadmill

Look, I’m sure you can think of many good reasons to go to the gym, however you need to stop and be brutally honest with yourself. How many times did you complete your work out this week? Last week? The week prior? If it’s any less than 3 then you are probably not going get the noticeable results you want.

In fact, according to a 2010 poll by the American Psychological Association, only 15% of adults were successful at beginning a regular fitness program. APA article

The truth is, gym memberships can become just another way for people to try and buy their goals instead of earn them. That’s why we have 30 different diet books collecting dust on our shelves, and yet we’re still carrying that extra tire. It’s the reason we see more LuLu’s than Levi’s. It’s the reason Victoria Secret launched a new workout line. Is it because we are getting fitter as a nation? Nope. It’s just more fun to buy than to earn.

Now, I understand that some people are more advanced in their fitness (like my husband). Some are collegiate or professional athletes who need access to a lot of different, expensive equipment, but these are the exceptions.

I’m going to assume that most of you are like me: an average person who’s not here to win any competitions. I’m just a mom who wanted to shed those last five pounds of baby weight and obtain my ideal body.

And the general population is the same. The vast majority of us have simple goals when it comes to our physique. Be healthy, lose a few, get rid of pain, sprout some abs and a set of pythons.

Guess what. You do not need an army of equipment to achieve this! In fact this pursuit can be a huge waste of time. It’s the equivalent of braving IKEA because you need a napkin ring.

Look, if you are serious about reaching your goals then you need to be honest about how you spend (or waste) your time. Are you taking an hour getting to and from your workout? Then you may find the number of days per week you hit the weights dropping until you look at yourself in the mirror and realize it’s been a month since you’ve laced up your Nike’s.

To prevent this you need to evaluate your workout and come up with a plan on how you’re going to get down to business sooner. If your regimen consists of a 30 minute jog followed by abs, then replace that with a run around the neighborhood and finish up on a yoga mat in the living room.

Are you more into taking classes followed by some serious arm toning? Download some classes to do at home or even in the office. Youtube has a great selection (fo free!). You can also find some good prices on free weights at Walmart or online. I prefer the adjustable dumbbells since they are compact and being a hockey wife, I move houses A LOT. You can find the ones I use here or for heavier sets, search on Amazon.

My go-to strategy is to do kettlebell swings while my baby is sleeping. video of proper form

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there are zero benefits to hitting the gym. I understand there are social aspects people enjoy. Maybe it’s a good way to get out of the house. However you need to be honest about your progress. And the truth is, you may be forking over that membership every month for the wrong reasons, and your waist line is paying the price.

Working out in the bedroom with Dora the Explorer in the background may not be sexy, but if you’re busy then you’ve got to make do. Will you miss going to Transcendent Jazzercise and showing off your new Lulu’s to Becky Mac-Jawbone? Maybe. But probably not if you get to reach your goals faster and save a boat load. In reality, which is more important?

So now…Drop and give me 20!

If you are interested in checking out my home workout, leave me a comment and I will post it.



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