I walk into the gym complex and a quiet, determined smile creeps across my face. I head to the changing rooms, and get changed while I silently plan todays workout in my head. I’m here, and I’m motivated. Once I’m changed, I head into the main room. I spot a couple guys on the elliptical machines on my way through to the weights, and I stop and talk to them for a while. They tell me there are some new rowing machines on the other side, and that I should try one out. I high five them and continue over to the weights area. Me and my regular group of workout partners rack the weights, and have a killer session. They offer me encouragement as I push through the last few reps, and afterwards they pull me up from the bench and tell me how impressive my last lift was. When we’re done, we make plans for tomorrow’s session, and I write the time in my phone so I don’t forget. Working out with a group of like-minded, fitness enthusiasts is great.
But it’s not. and none of that happened. At all.
I’m 28 years old. In the past 10 years I’ve signed up to 3 gyms, and I’ve quit each one in under 6 months because, for me, every visit goes VERY differently to the above.
I walk into the gym complex and I queue up to get through the turnstyle. Green light, first person goes through. Green light, second person goes through. I swipe my card across the card reader. Red light.
I try again. Red light. Maybe it’s faulty. Red light.
I go to speak to the receptionist, and he takes my details. I resent having to reel off my full name & address.
He buzzes me in.
I head to the changing room. I change clothes, and put my bare foot in something wet. Oh that’s right, the changing rooms are also used for the pool. Into the main room I go, and EVERYBODY is friendly and sociable. Everyone, that is, except me. I high five nobody, and I walk to the weights section. I queue up for the bench, and by the time I get to it I’ve lost all enthusiasm. I can tell several other people are waiting for me to finish, so I hurry through my set. I repeat this awkward series of actions until I’ve finished each exercise. I change again, and walk home in the rain, deciding whether I should cancel my membership by e-mail or in person.
Now, I understand SOME people thrive in gyms and have no issues whatsoever. I’m just not one of those people. I’m either complaining because it’s boring, or I’m complaining because somebody’s TRYING to talk to me and I can’t be bothered to train AND figure out some interesting small-talk for a stranger. To make it worse, my small-talk is terrible. Nobody wants to hear about the bigfoot sighting I was reading about this morning, or that scientists are predicting development of a microchip smaller than a blood-cell in the next few years. Nobody wants to hear about that. No, wait – I do, but the guy standing by the drinks machine in the weights room does not.
On the whole “Gym membership vs home gym” topic, I’m FIRMLY planted on the side of the home gym. Here’s why :-
No queuing for equipment.
Do you know how annoying it is to queue up for equipment in a gym, when all you want to do is get the hell out of there? Very. Guess where there’s no queuing at all – ever? That’s right, at home. There’s no queuing in my living room whatsoever. In fact, it’s a rule. No queuing. I never have to enforce the rule, because I’m the only one in the room.
No trying to look cool.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret : I don’t look cool wearing sportswear. Now, before you tell me you don’t HAVE to look cool at a gym, I’m going to offer a retort – I wouldn’t HAVE to TRY and look cool in the gym, if everyone else didn’t put so much effort into looking AWESOME. At every gym I’ve ever been to, there are two groups of people. The first accounts for about 20% of the gym population, and is comprised entirely of regular looking people, with less-than-ideal body’s, and ordinary clothes. The other 80% are the most beautiful people alive today. All the girls in this category look like they’ve just walked out of an audition for Britains Next Top Fitness Model, and the guys have all had six packs since they were 12 years old.
No giant men trying to make friends with me.
Every time I’ve been the member of a gym, trying to keep myself to myself, a giant man has tried to make friends with me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they’re being friendly… but it’s not. It’s not nice at all. I think I just give off a really potent “I need a gym friend” vibe, and I don’t know how to turn it off. I’ve seen too many prison movies where a giant man tries to make friends with the main character, and it never ends well for anyone.
Train whenever I want.
It’s never going to happen, but what if I decide I want to train at 3am? I could. Sometimes I train before work. Could I do that at a gym? No. There’s no way I could get up THAT early, or fit a workout and fit in a shower. I just couldn’t do it.
No putting on stupid clothes, or any clothes.
Sometimes, sometimes – SOMETIMES… I want to train in my boxers only. And for me, that’s a deal breaker.