Years ago, when I moved back to Louisville, life got to me as it does most of us at some point. I spent less time staying active and more time eating out, and while I usually stayed away from the double fried, fat-dipped artery clogger daily special with fries, it is almost impossible to eat healthy while picking up fast food on a regular basis! So, I did what a lot of people do, made a resolution and joined a gym. Some people do this every January 1st, others do it the first of every month . . . mine was somewhere in between.
I knew one of the biggest failures people cite about not making it to the gym is time, so I made sure that wasn’t an excuse. I joined a 24 hour gym. If they were always open, surely I would always be able to go, right? I was pretty consistent at first like most resolutionaries (I know, it’s not a word, but I’m petitioning it to be added. Resolutionary – noun – one who makes resolutions). I think my first week I made it like 5 times and spent probably 10 hours at the gym. The long days at work and I was still there lifting weights and riding the bike at 10:00 in the evening! I was spending good money for the gym, so I was going to be there!!!
Next week, I was a little sore and decided to make sure I was smart about my training. 3 trips and 5 hours later, I was still making progress!
I was busy the week after, but I did make it there once around 2:30 AM. It was a good thing I joined the 24-hour place!
Not sure what happened the week after that, but I’m pretty sure I made it the gym a few more times over the next couple of months before I realized I was also glad I didn’t sign a contract . . . I cancelled that monthly expense as it was sapping good money out of my bank account for no real value.
A couple of years later, I joined another gym, but I had a reason. A friend of mine (an evil and apparently very influential friend of mine) convinced me I should run a marathon with her. Ok, in all fairness to her, she was as surprised as I was when I said I’d run it with her. We had 18 weeks of training and while I don’t mind the cold, I knew I needed to practice running and couldn’t let weather dissuade me in mid-January. So, I joined another gym and started running there to get ready for a marathon. End result – a successful first marathon for both of us and 18 weeks of great gym attendance!!! After that, I needed a bit of a break, but the gym was still a place to go every once in a while. What I noticed though was I slowly stopped going again, until I picked another marathon to train for, and then I knew I had to start training more!
Having specific goals is something that you hear in fitness, business, and life in general. If you have something you can reach for, you are more focused and more likely to keep going, but there’s a problem there… What happens when you’ve run the marathon? Or in a diet, you’ve lost the 20 lbs. you were trying for? Why do you keep going?
Some people become addicted to the fitness, the food, etc. For those people, keep it up! But for many of us, once the goal is obtained, it’s too easy to fall back out of the good habits you were developing. That’s where I’ve noticed the “what” is important, but the why and the how is equally needed.
When I started teaching at the Y a little over a year ago, I noticed something a bit different about the environment; it was the first place that the staff actually noticed me. I went in and ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes and spent a third of that time chatting with one of the staffers. After the conversation, I look down at my treadmill and all of sudden only had another half mile to go! Not only was that the first time something like that happened, but when I made it in the next day, I had another conversation with an employee talking about the football game from the night before. When I took a day off, I came back to a “Hey, missed you yesterday!”
Immediately, there was a little community going on here I was a part of, and that’s when I realized a few things. I think people quit diets and quit gyms for much the same reason, if you just change the what you are doing, you’ll eventually slip back to the old way, because most likely, the old way is easier. And when you slip once, it’s easier to relax overall. Picking up a cheeseburger on the way home is easier and faster than making some healthy, and not going to the gym is always easier than going!
So while setting goals is important, you also have to understand why you are setting them. AND, just as important, is a support structure that keeps you motivated and moving. Even the quick, friendly, “How far you going today?” or “Good to see you!” from an employee or an acquaintance is enough to keep me energized a bit more and dedicated to getting another workout in. And for the fitness classes, I’m still amazed how many people actually TALK to one another after class! They are all part of that community, and that’s what I missed before – there was no community that I was a part of elsewhere! When I got the chance to work with the Triple Crown Training Program, that community amplified tenfold and I had a blast running with new people and challenging and pushing one another!
For me, the Y isn’t about the machines and the pool, it’s about the people and the atmosphere. It’s what helps me get going when it would be easier not to. So, when people ask if I go to a gym, I usually say “No, I go the Y.”
Oh, and if you see me hitting another 5 or 6 mile run, and I’m a little tired from the effort, I’ll still appreciate the brief conversation!!! Thanks to every member who makes this a community!