I walked into my first “real” gym back in 1985.
It was a Gold’s Gym in Waco, Texas. I was a student at Baylor. One day while sitting in a very large class of around 100 students, I suffered a panic attack. I remember the sheer terror of the moment like it was yesterday. I felt like I was trapped in the class. My heart raced. I began to sweat and shake. I felt like I couldn’t do anything but ride it out. After a few minutes it passed.
Luckily, I made the connection between exercise and health. I knew that I was living an unhealthy lifestyle – bad food, bad sleep patterns, college stress and began working out. I’ve never suffered another panic attack. The gym has been good to me.
But after 28 years of going to a public gym, I doubt that I’ll ever join one again. Oh, I still work out. I work out in my garage gym. It’s packed with the best equipment on the market from the Rogue R6 power rack, to the Nexersys, to the Rogue Glute Ham Developer. There’s 640lbs of weight including dumbbells from 5lbs to 90lbs. Barbells, benches, medicine balls, plyo boxes and other things. I love my gym. It’s my man cave, my getaway.
It’s air conditioned in the Summer and heated in the Winter. I workout exclusively in my home gym and train clients, my kids and other neighborhood kids. My oldest son is 11 and over the Summer he’s gotten stronger and more conditioned due to his strength and conditioning program. I’ve set some goals for him and he’s achieved 2/4. The lifts include:
- Bench Press
- Barbell Squat
- Pull Ups
At the rate that he’s progressing, he’ll knock out the last 2 goals within a month. I would not be able to train him consistently like this at a public gym. The time that we spend together talking, laughing and working out is priceless without any interruptions or having to wait on equipment. And no gym dues. It’s crazy when I think about it… the overall quality of my life dramatically began to improve as soon as I stopped going to a public gym. Improvements include:
- No travel time to the gym – I walk 30 steps into my garage gym. Time savings equals 6 hours a week.
- More time to workout. I don’t have to rush. I can enjoy myself and take my time if I choose.
- More time to work on my fitness business.
- More time to spend with my family and friends.
- Improve the quality of my sleep – no late nights due to gym commitments and no early morning wake up calls.
I’ve broken from the norm, feel great about it and wanted to share with you what I feel to be the top 10 reasons NOT to go to the gym:
1.) Needless Travel Time
Most of us live at least 10-15 minutes away from the closest gym (some people live 20-30 plus minutes away). This means that a daily gym workout will cost us at least 20-30 precious minutes in wasted travel time. Add that time up over the course of a week and you are looking at losing at least 2-3 hours going to and from the gym. And that’s not including any additional time changing clothes in the locker room or getting caught up in conversation with people you know.
2.) The Sheep Mentality
If you follow the example of most gym goers, you will not make progress. I’ve noticed that the same people tend to look the same year after year. If their goals is to lose body fat and gain lean tissue, then they are going about it all wrong. Most people go to the gym and do whatever everybody else is doing.
Most of the women are cardio queens spending hours at a time on ellipticals, bikes, and treadmills- sadly getting nowhere fast. Ladies you need to start doing some resistance training and cut those cardio sessions down to 20 minutes of intense interval training to burn that stubborn hip, thigh, and belly fat that is holding your gains back.
The guys spend set after set on the bench press and at the dumbbell rack doing biceps curls. When in doubt, DON’T do what everybody else in the gym is doing because it’s not working!
3.) Needless Waiting Time for Equipment or Space
I remember when I used to workout at a particular big box gym. I would spend an average of at least 10-15 minutes per workout waiting on a piece of equipment or a certain space of the gym to complete my workout. Not only does this waste a bunch of valuable time and create a detrimental roller coaster of warming-up and cooling-down, but this long stop and go format is completely counter productive to the appropriate alternating set format and work to rest ratio to burn fat and lose weight fast- the main goal of over 90% of fitness enthusiasts.
Frankly, there is no way you can workout effectively at the typical overcrowded commercial gym when people are constantly getting in your way and hording your training space and equipment. Especially on Monday or Tuesday night. Those are typically the most crowded days of the week.
Build your own gym at home so you and you only control your workout environment.
4.) Sickness and Disease
Let’s just be honest about this – gyms are cesspools for sickness and disease. Most overworked, burnt out trainers working at the typical failing health club are forced to double dip and clean up the gym at the end of 8+ hour workdays. How much energy do you really think they have left to thoroughly clean and disinfect equipment that hundreds of people have sweat and dripped on all day long?
Beyond catching the common cold, there are some other real serious things that have been spreading at gyms like wildfire like the merca staph infection epidemic.
Stay healthy and workout at home!
5.) Annoying People
This is probably the biggest reason I no longer go to gyms – my workout time is my time and my time alone. I don’t like being interrupted while I’m working out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some of my best friendships at the gym BUT my friends are NOT the ones who are interrupting.
For a lot of people, going to the gym isn’t about getting results, it’s about socializing.
But that’s not the worst part- the worst part is when people interrupt you mid-workout to ask you questions about your training routine. Sorry- go pay for a trainer to give you advice. I’m there on a mission, not to reeducate. I’m happy to talk after the workout if time permits. Not being rude, just trying to stay efficient.
6.) Expensive Memberships
I shudder to think how much I could have saved by not going to the gym for the last 28 years. Let me see. $40 a month/avg x 336 months. $13,440. Plus protein drinks, protein bars, shirts, etc. That kind of dough should have least come with a trainer, a massage and a Christmas card.
7.) Useless Equipment
Most machines suck – other than hammer strength or Nautilus, I haven’t used a machine in years. They don’t allow your body to train in its normal movement path. If used incorrectly, they can cause many overuse injuries.
If you want to be lean, tight, and muscular, use body weight, free weights, medicine balls, a sledgehammer and kettlebells. If you’re not sure how to use these tools, hire a trainer for a few months. The truth shall set you free.
Every couple of months I treat myself to a new training tool (I have been enjoying my Nexersys) to mix things up and keep my workouts fresh. It’s pretty cool to slowly build you own budget-friendly personal gym by adding new implements every so often- I highly recommend it!
8.) Lack of Open Training Space
This one’s pretty simple. Clueless club owners focus on all the frills with substance by filling the training floor up with overpriced, over sized machines that take up all of the prime real estate. Ever try doing a walking lunge in the typical health club? The last time I did I wound up tripping on a barbell clamp and landing on my kiester.
All you need is space, baby- space to move freely.
9.) Crippling Dependence
Gyms force you to create a dependence on them by locking you into a long-term membership. As a result, if you are used to using their machines, you feel lost when you travel and can’t access the same equipment. In most cases, people figure “what the hell, I’ll just take some time off until I get back home since I don’t have any gym access out here.”
The result? Inconsistency. One of the top progress killers.
10.) Bad Trainers
Sorry- lots of big box trainers do not make the cut- they get certified by these money-hungry certification agencies that no provide no support. Their program design is thrown together, not personalized and they get paid squat with no true incentive to get clients results.
When you go to the typical gym for personal training, you enter a factory. They are trying to get you in and out. They don’t care if your reach your goals nor do they have the desire to build lasting relationships with you. They just need to hit their quota- you are just another number for them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been sick to my stomach seeing some jackass personal trainer getting paid $60/hour to talk to some overweight client while he or she walks gingerly on his or her cardio machine of choice.
And what about this need for the one-hour workout? Where the hell did that come from? I’ll tell you where- it’s just a default time to maintain an easy appointment schedule that most health clubs have borrowed from other businesses that have nothing to do with fitness. Join a fitness boot camp in your area that creates a fit community- a culture of success. I mean if you are the type of person who is motivated, empowered, and dedicated enough to consistently workout on your own, it appears that going to the gym may very well be a complete waste of time.
And if you need the support and motivation of a workout buddy or can’t or don’t want to work out on your own, the typical gym still falls in short in providing a results-based, cost-effective solution. I can honestly say that if you are serious about getting results, both inside and outside of your workouts, your best move is to avoid the gym like the plague and build your own portable home gym.
I can only hope that I’ve shed some light on what might be holding you back- both in regards to your fitness and in your own life in general.
Break outside of your comfort zone.
Step outside of the box.
Take the road less traveled and enjoy more free time, less illness, better results and life-changing results to show for it.