I’ve never been a member of a gym. Can you believe that? I’m around 30 years old and I have never, ever paid for a gym membership. Sure, in college, we had free access to the gyms around campus, but I didn’t sign up for that—I just got it. When I was growing up, my parents were members of a swim club that had a gym on-site, and to which I had access because my parents paid for a membership. But I didn’t sign up for that either. As an adult who can make her own choices (financial and otherwise) I have never opted to join a gym. I hear people talking about their gyms as if they’re some sort of places of religious worship—they claim these places changed their lives. But, personally, joining a gym has never called my name. And I think at this point, it never will. I don’t go to the gym and here’s why I love that.
No driving time
I don’t need to budget an hour just to drive to and from the gym and find parking there. When I want to exercise, exactly three minutes elapse before that desire turns into a reality. I just put on walking shoes and walk out the front door, or I lie out a yoga mat and put on a workout video. I dedicate all of my workout time to working out and none of it to getting to the place where I’ll work out.
No added workout time to compensate for the drive
I honestly just think the gym is so time-consuming. The rare times I have gone to a gym, I ended up working out longer than I wanted to (and longer than I really had time for) because I felt like I needed to compensate for how much time I spent driving there, or the money I spent on the day pass. So, what was meant to be a 30-minute workout became a two-hour endeavor between the driving and the guilt-induced added workout.
I use the outdoors to exercise
Because I don’t have a gym, I’m forced to use the world as my gym. And I love that! I find new hikes to do, new stairways to climb, new campuses with running tracks I can access, new beaches to walk on, and more, all of the time.
It’s just me and my body
I like the simplicity of it just being me and my body (and the world). No machines. No belts. No ropes. No weights. I don’t need to learn anything—an intimidation factor of gyms that just make me not want to go there—to exercise. All I need is my body.
If a day or week passes during which I can’t work out, I don’t feel bad for having wasted money on a gym. Honestly, the thought of spending money to do something that humans have managed to do for free for centuries (move our bodies) seems silly.
I can try classes anywhere
If I want to, I can always try class pass or get a Groupon for a few classes somewhere. On the rare occasion I do feel like using facilities, I like that I have the option to sample new ones.
I never compare myself
There’s too much comparing that goes on at the gym. I’d compare myself to how other women looked. I’d compare how much time I spent on the treadmill to the women next to me. I’d compare how many reps I did on a machine. There’s no comparison like that when I stick to hiking, climbing stairs, walking, and running outdoors.
I like to work out with my dog
I don’t have time to give myself and my dog separate and good workouts. The few times I did trials at a gym, I found that my dog’s outings took a hit. I had to shorten her walks because of how much time I’d spent at the gym. That isn’t fair. I want to spend time with my dog and get her out of the house. So now, I take her on nice long walks—me and her, together.
I like to walk and talk
Exercise time is also the time I catch up with my friends and family. I put on my headphones and call a relative or old friend while I power walk or climb stairs. At the gym, that’s sort of frowned upon.
I use chores to exercise
I like to integrate exercise into my chores. So, for example, I might jog back to my car that I left at a bar the night before. I might power walk to the post office to drop off a letter and the drug store next door to buy vitamins.
I discover new places
When I go for jogs and walks, I get to know my city. I can’t tell you how many adorable date spots I’ve found for my partner and me on my power walks. Without those walks, my boyfriend and I would be going to the same old places.
I don’t like the idea of being dependent on something. I’ve seen how my gym rat friends panic when they travel for two weeks, so concerned with how they might find a gym or how they’ll exercise on their trip. I don’t worry about that when I travel (and I love to travel). The world is my gym!
I like to do fitness; not talk about it
There is just so much discussion about fitness at the gym. There are the posters and the videos and the people talking about their reps and the trainers talking about technique. Any time talking about something overpowers doing something, I get annoyed.
There is nobody to upsell me when I go hiking up a mountain, power walking on the beach, or jogging around my local university’s running track.
We don’t need them
Somehow, humans got along just fine before gyms came along. We should be able to integrate movement into our days without having to use intimidating machines. We should be able to exercise without a power outlet. I like to keep all things simple, including my workouts.