I twist my crazy curls up into a bun and walk out of the locker room. I look around and can’t help but feel overwhelmed — Should I do cardio? What machine? I should probably pick one where I can’t see the clock. Maybe I’ll skip cardio and just lift, but there are so many people on the weight floor. Ill go do abs. Why are there so many people on the ab mat? How does everyone in here afford expensive work out clothing? How I have already been here an hour? — Maybe this rings familiar in your head. For years and years I was a pretty faithful gym attendee, but I’ve never loved the gym. I do love physical activity; I love the rush of endorphins, I love sweating, and I love the accomplished feeling when I finish a great workout. But the gym? Not so much. Aside from the overwhelmed feeling upon arrival, I also usually felt like my workout could’ve been better and often felt like I was under a microscope. My previous employment afforded me the great opportunity to workout in an Equinox fitness club, for free — so I felt like I was wasting a great perk if I didn’t use it religiously — but I hated working out there. The trainers would try to convince me to work out harder, or would ask What are you training for?, or would look at me eyes that felt disapproving of my workout choices. What am I training for? Nothing, just here for the endorphins and to keep a mildly toned physique! I felt like I’d spend too long at the gym. In NYC it takes 30-40 minutes to get somewhere, so you obviously need to spend more time at your destination than the amount of time it took to get there, right? And whats the best type of workout? How am I to know! Sometimes I would be on a cardio machine and literally ask myself, Why am I doing this? It was just too much.
Then suddenly, the fitness room in my apartment building opened. It was a small room with a couple cardio machines, a very decent amount of free weights/medicine balls, and lots of space. So I started working out there, creating my own little fun circuits of strength and cardio moves with out any one else around. So zen, I loved it. After some time though, I started to fall bored of my routine. I decided to give fitness classes a try when one day I saw an insane ClassPass discount, 5 classes for 17 dollars (INSANE, i know). I tried a large variety of classes; a spin class, a HIIT class, PureBarre, Brooklyn BodyBurn, and a 90 minute hot yoga class. I fell in love with every single class I took. I loved the group aspect of classes, that communal feeling of We are all here to crush this workout. But ClassPass at its regular price was just NOT in my NYC budget. So I needed something new.
One day as I was scrolling through Instagram I saw an ad for Daily Burn, an app loaded with hundreds of workout videos. The promo price was great, but even the regular price seemed reasonable. I decided to sign up and browsed through the video catalog — such a large variety of workouts in regards to type, time, intensity. I started to build a routine full of variety; barre or yoga one day, HIIT the next, kickboxing on another. Most the videos require no equipment but some of the videos I liked incorporated free weights or medicine balls, which luckily I had in my building’s fitness room. Fast forward a couple of months and I moved from NYC and in with my fiancé in upstate NY– At first I kind of panicked about not having access to a fitness center, and contemplated signing up for a gym membership. Then I remembered how much less I enjoyed exercise when going to the gym was involved. Instead I realized that it would only cost me 30 dollars to buy 3 lb, 5 lb, and 10 lb dumbbell sets. I continue to use Daily Burn in our living room and realize that I feel my healthiest and happiest by working out for shorter intervals and less frequently (I used to workout 6-7 days per week, now I just do 4, sometimes 5). I have also started to appreciate that physical activity doesn’t need to be a “work out.” Corey and I sometimes go to the park and attempt to play tennis, or we go for a walk after dinner, or play basketball in the driveway. Physical activity is important, but there isn’t a cut and dry right way to be physically active. It’s so important to know that what works for others may not work for you. Listen to your body! It needs adequate rest and variety! I encourage you to find what works for you, to not compare it to what others are doing, and most importantly enjoy it. If you don’t find a form of exercise you enjoy, its going to be difficult to make it a routine habit.