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It's a new year, a traditional time to make resolutions for
self-improvement. In a reverse move to many, I am marking the new year by
quitting my gym.
According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 67
percent of Americans with gym memberships never use them. And it's not just in
the U.S.: in the U.K., of those who sign up with gyms at the start of the new year,
59 percent of men and 15 percent of woman quit before January is over.
I have been a member of my gym since it opened about seven
years ago. I used to really enjoy it, when I could go in the evenings and take
my time post-workout, lingering in the sauna. I paused my membership during my
three pregnancies, each time resolving to get right back to it post-delivery.
Another thing I have less time for these days is socializing.
But with children there is no lingering—anywhere—so the gym
became something less relaxing. My gym has a daycare, but its space and hours
are limited and getting three children into one time slot is nearly
impossible. Rushing to the gym after dinner and getting back in time to put
children to bed just made it a stressful hassle.
Conclusion: gyms just aren't for me. I don't really avail myself of classes,
because they never seem to suit my schedule. I went to Pilates for a while, but
it was at 9 p.m. on Monday nights, which is not when I want to be heading for the
gym. I did a spinning class once. The results were humiliating.
I'm mostly on the treadmill, because I like the solitude of running,
the time with my iPod, the flexibility of the schedule, the simplicity of the
equipment required and the mental space it gives me to think.
But it's exactly the flexibility of it that makes me put off
doing it. Basically, if something is not scheduled in my day, it is unlikely to
happen. Anything not firmly on my to-do list is optional. And if it's something
I don't enjoy anyway—like running on a treadmill indoors, vs. outside in nature—it doesn't stand a
The main thing is I no longer have a two-hour daily block
of time to give to something like a gym. So this year, my only resolution is to
find a way to make exercising fun and also to fold it into my life in a way
that is manageable and sustainable.
So I am resolved to stay out of the gym in 2016 and to make exercise something I look forward to doing rather than feel obligated to get done.
Another thing I have less time for these days is
socializing. I have many conversations about how a friend and I need to get
together for dinner or a drink. But it's hard to make it happen and comes with the additional anti-fitness consequence of wine calories when it does.
I don't have a lot of time and, at the risk of sounding
overly pragmatic, it helps a lot if my activities follow the Ikea furniture
model of serving more than one purpose. I want to exercise, and I want to see
my friends. So this year, I'm attempting to combine these.
I've made plans for weekly runs with one friend and morning
walks with another. Getting outside, even when it's cold, is invigorating and
an enormous incentive. And two nights a week, I've been doing an evening
trampoline boot camp with a couple of friends. It's very effective and
So I am resolved to stay out of the gym in 2016 and to make
exercise something I look forward to doing rather than feel obligated to get
done. Like any fitness plan, it still hangs on discipline and commitment.
knowing it's also social makes my odds of sticking to it that much higher.