Step by step: Gym, I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me

Joining a gym and then not attending regularly or, worse, going but not gaining the benefit, is an awful waste, says Damian Cullen

Gyms can be mysterious, unwelcoming, intimidating enclosures.

Gyms can be mysterious, unwelcoming, intimidating enclosures.

 

The joy and sorrow of Easter eggs prompted me to join a local gym last year.

There was a two-for-one deal, so my wife also signed up.

A year later, I’ve been to the gym more times in the past few weeks than in the first 11 months. My wife dutifully picked up her membership card, but has yet to see the inside of the building.

There’s something about gyms, particularly for those who have never, or rarely, frequent one. They’re quite mysterious, unwelcoming, intimidating enclosures. And there’s a world of excuses not to find out what they have to offer.

If there was a book on avoiding the gym, I’d have written it: weather too good, weather too bad; I’ve even claimed I wouldn’t go because it was raining – outside. Sometimes, it’s handy living in Ireland.

And even if you do get inside the gym door, that’s only half the battle. Like college libraries, gyms are often frequented by people who believe that just being in the building is sufficient.

These are people who spend their time chatting, strolling around seeing who they know, and, a little unsettlingly, watching other people work.

And there is always someone sitting on an exercise machine, texting. Soon they will move to another machine, and text from there. Maybe they’re posting online about the workout routine they’re currently enjoying although, in reality, they’re only exercising their fingers.

Don’t worry, even if you forget to check in on Facebook that you’re at the gym, the workout is not worthless. In fact, unless you’ve pinned yourself down trying to bench-press your bodyweight, none of your 500 “friends” will care.

It’s like what an old GAA coach said to my team when he wasn’t happy with the effort displayed during training: “There’s some of ye only coming over here for a shower.”

There is hardly a greater waste of money than joining a gym and then not attending regularly – or worse, going but not gaining the benefit. As a member of several gyms over the years, I’ve been guilty of both.

None have lasted, probably because the most difficult thing I’ve endured was cancelling the membership.

It’s like breaking up with someone you know is good for you.

Telling a gym you’ve fallen out of love with it – or, worse, never really liked it – is hard. Is it something we said or did?

They’ve been nothing but encouraging, wanting the best for you, while you’ve spent your time going behind their back and, well, let’s face it, cheating.

Sure, you like different things – they’re all artichoke, edamame and asparagus salad, while you’re more a pizza and chips type – but they have only your interests at heart.

And, after ignoring their “haven’t seen you in a while” text messages for longer than is healthy for any relationship, it seems a little late in the day to be highlighting their terrible taste in music.

And, whatever you do, don’t mention that there’s someone else – cheaper – down the road. Though I did once tell a gym receptionist I was ending my membership because I needed the money to buy bigger clothes.

If you do walk away, just remember: there’s nothing mutual about the break-up.

It’s not them. It’s you. And then, it’s final. Finished. And then, perhaps like me, after the first rush of relief, you’ll think about them moving on without you.

It’s far harder for you to move on without them.

And you’ll wonder: “Will they take me back?”

Damian’s stats

Age:Height:Weight:BMI: Fat:

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