No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Never gymless (part 2)

Posted by Ben on Friday, February 27, 2009

I mentioned before how I finally cancelled my gym membership, which when spread around the Twitterverse and Facebook, um, erse, was met with two kinds of responses: one, a chorus of “hell yeah” and “think of the money you’ll save” and “no more brotards curling in the squat rack” (okay, maybe that last one wasn’t quoted material); the other, a mix of “wish I could do that” and “how are you going to workout now?” and even a very simple “why?” The former responses probably ranged from stick-it-to-The-Man types to those who have their own home gyms and/or have found other ways to meet their training goals without having to trudge to Hamster Wheel Central on a regular basis. The latter ones, well, those are the ones who either are very new to training or very dependent on, well, something, whether it’s keeping appointments with a trainer or training partner, not wanting to waste the money spent on a membership, or just going to the gym because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? It’s this latter group I want to address today.

First, a question: why do you think a gym is necessary to get started on—nevermind continue a path to—physical fitness? Sub-question: why are you having to think about it in the first place? Look at infants becoming toddlers. I’m totally pulling this out of my ass, but the word “toddlers” is a perfect description of children at this age—they tend to toddle along and toddle around because they’re learning movement and locomotion, and a step in that learning is, well, toddling. No one has to tell them or teach them other than maybe through imitation, but they figure out how to move their bodies much like they learn about their environment in general. The problem is that once walking is achieved, much of the learning stops, especially when kids are told to sit down and shut up for hours upon hours at a time (school) and then allowed to do so on their own through hypnosis (TV, video games, computers, etc). Essentially, the art and science of exploratory bodily movement is systematically deconditioned due to school and social scheduling, disengaged parenting, and Ritalin. There are organizations out there trying to combat this epidemic, but even as much as I respect Brian Grasso and what he’s trying to do (and thank goodness he is), part of me wonders how it’s come to the point of professional associations and public ad campaigns being developed to simply get the kids off the couch and running around in the back yard.

Now, I didn’t mean for this to sound like a rant because it’s not; I’m just stating the facts. The point I’m trying to make to the fitness newbies is that no one externally forced you to learn movement, so why do you feel the need to spend money for access to something you can do for free, on your own time, in your own solitude if you don’t like exercising in front of others, and practically anywhere you can carve out about eight or nine square feet of space? You learned it on your own. You also (used to) know how to squat (again, look at toddlers picking something off the ground—perfect squat technique that no one had to show them), how to run, how to jump, climb, dig, push, and all that other stuff that, frankly, is relegated in most people’s minds to memories of playgrounds in kindergarten (if only all kids today were so lucky as to have those experiences).

As for the codependents—I use that term half-jokingly—well, obviously you’re looking for something, whether it’s motivation, absolution, or simply acceptance. If exercise is your means of trying to find those things, by all means, go for it. It’s a helluva lot better than booze or burglary; however, are you getting everything out of your training that you could, or is it just what you do to kill time? If you’re going to make the effort to spend a few hours a week exercising, shouldn’t it be fun? Shouldn’t it be refreshing (after the fact, of course)? Shouldn’t it be enlightening (on many levels)? Shouldn’t it be a means to a means since (I assume) you don’t want the physical road to end? That’s not to say that it can’t be done IN the gym—many people have done that, myself included—but it’s not a have-to.

Next time (oooooh, look, a teaser!), I’ll explain my own “why” behind leaving the gym as well as some other things to consider in training and in life that might give you some ideas of (a) what you’re wanting to do, (b) what you’re willing to do, and (c) what you actually will/won’t do.

P.S. I’ve never done a series of posts before, so please bear with me if—er, when it gets a little long-winded and convoluted. I didn’t intend for this to happen, but I figured it’s better to break this up into what may become a half-dozen posts instead of one entirely-too-long treatise that otherwise wouldn’t get read.

P.P.S. It’s purely coincidence (I think) that as soon as I posted that I was stopping with the post-ending links, my traffic instantly plummeted :D

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One Response to “Never gymless (part 2)”

  1. Roland said

    I like your new format. Bring on the next post.

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