Change is a Good Thing
I made a difficult decision today. That sounds very dramatic, like I had to put my dog down or quit my job. This may sound very privileged—this is truly a First World Problem—but for me it was a big deal.
Today, I decided to freeze my gym membership.
I know, I know, I sound very dramatic. Freezing a gym membership isn’t even going as far as to quit. I’m just putting my membership on hold for a couple of months.
If you’ve followed my articles over the last year and a half, you’ll know that I joined the gym in May of 2017 in an attempt to shed the baby weight.
The results kicked in quickly. My body was being challenged in new and interesting ways. I was having fun trying new classes and learning how to strength train. Within a few months, I started to see results.
Within six months, I was down 20 pounds and the weight was continuing to come off, especially after I started seeing the gym’s dietician to improve my eating habits.
Since May of 2017, I’ve lost 22 pounds. I’ve gained muscle, lost inches and decreased my body fat. I’ve transformed my eating habits and started drinking more water than I ever have before.
It’s been quite the journey.
Joining the gym helped me regain the confidence I lost after two back to back pregnancies. I weigh around what I did on my wedding day and even though the shape of my body has changed thanks to pregnancy, I am thrilled to fit into smaller size clothes and to feel happy with how I look again.
I also feel so much stronger. I’m able to do more physically than I ever have before, from lifting weights to running to pushups.
Until I started working full time, I was at the gym six to seven times a week. That’s right, almost every day of the week. I had become a gym rat.
As much as I loved how I looked and felt since joining the gym, walking through those doors brought joy to my life in other ways.
The gym became a place just for me. I utilized the child care every day, which gave me a much needed break from my daughters. For that hour, I was able to take a deep breath and focus on myself. I never abused that—I wasn’t one of those people who worked out for an hour and used another hour to sit in the sauna or lie in the sun on the terrace. I got in, did my workout, and left.
The gym also provided me with a much needed community. As a stay-at-home mom, I was frequently lonely and lacked adult companionship. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who knew my name, who asked how I was doing and who adored my daughters as much as I did.
I loved my classes because of the friendships I developed. I met a woman—a former teacher, who taught at a school I’ve always wanted to teach at—who gave me wonderful professional advice that I’ve clung to during the first months at my new teaching job. I had another woman who always checked in on me during my job hunting process.
There were a slew of older women in my dance classes who gave me advice about aging. I loved seeing their faces and joking around with them week after week.
Best of all, I met a few other moms who have young children. Our kids grew close playing day after day in the child care, while we got to know each other better between sets of pushups and burpees.
When I started working, I knew most of my workouts would be done at home. I’m out the door too early to go the the gym in the morning and by the time I’m home in the afternoon, my kids are close to wanting dinner and then suddenly it’s bedtime and I’m too tired to go anywhere.
Realistically, I knew that the gym would suddenly become a place I’d go to only on weekends or school vacations. Even more realistically, my budget is tighter than I thought it would be and dropping a luxury like the gym makes sense.
I called the gym today and spoke with the general manager, who immediately commented that he hadn’t seen me in a while. I told him my dilemma. I really didn’t want to quit. What would happen to my community? Would I start slacking with workouts? Would the friendships I had developed fade away?
He pointed out that one or two times a week at the gym is good for a lot of people, but he understood that I was used to getting as much as I could out of my membership. We decided that I would try freezing the membership for a couple months and hopefully start it back up again over winter break.
I told him that there’s no way I’m quitting for good. Over the summer, when I’m home every day, I know I’ll be craving the exercise and companionship of the gym. I’ll be looking for a place to go for adult conversation. My girls already miss seeing their friends, so I know they’ll be happy to rejoin.
Financially, I know it makes sense to suspend my membership right now. I’m not getting the use out of it that I was to justify the monthly price. But there are other benefits to seeing what it’s like to work out only at home.
I was initially worried about at-home workouts. After all, I always worked out at home after having my daughters, but it didn’t make much of a difference. I plodded away on the elliptical day after day, sucked into watching TV and not lifting any weights. I got lazy and so the weight stayed on.
Now, I am more creative with my at home workouts. With only 30 minutes a day to exercise during the week, I’m getting my group exercise fix through videos on YouTube. Every day I have a new instructor and a new class. I know I’ve actually gotten stronger because I’ve ramped up the intensity of my workouts since I don’t have a full hour anymore.
Yesterday, I opted to try heavier weights in a workout and was surprised by how well I did. I can hold a plank longer and try pushups from my feet first, rather than immediately dropping to my knees. A workout that destroyed me just a few weeks ago was easier to get through today.
I also have the flexibility to workout whenever I want to at home. I’m not stuck to a class schedule. Much as I love my gym classes, it’s hard to get to one on a weekend at 8:30 AM so I tend to go to a 9:30. By the time I get back in my car, it’s almost 11 and the morning is over.
Last weekend, I had somewhere to be on Saturday, so instead of going to my usual gym class, I hopped on the treadmill for a run at home around 8:30 AM and was done my workout an hour later. Suddenly, I had so much more time in the morning.
It can be easy to be lazy about at home workouts. Some days I get home and am too tired to exercise, but for the most part, I’m still aiming for 5-6 days of fitness a week. Every night, I leave out my workout clothes for the next afternoon and I try to pick out my workout video before I leave work so I’m excited to exercise the moment I walk in the door.
There are so many things about having a gym membership that I will miss, but I’m happy to have found some positive aspects of at home workouts and I’m looking forward to joining my community when school ends for the summer.