This past Saturday, I watched a few episodes of The Following, watched a shitty movie (The Numbers Station), read a number of fitness articles, played drums, read a few chapters in a book (How Successful People Think), and ate a meal large enough to qualify for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Why? All because I didn’t want to complete my schedule workout. Plot twist: I skipped my workout.
Well, maybe skipped isn’t the right word. I suppose I just postponed it to Sunday afternoon. See, I wanted to do everything in the world instead of working out. I know what you’re thinking.
This is a pretty complex strategy to procrastinate working out, don’t cha think? Like millions of Americans, I pay for a gym membership, and barely use it. In fact, I only went to the gym once last month. What the hell am I paying for?
The caveat to this story is that since I work at a gym, I can workout almost anytime I want to. It’s relatively easy for me to pop into the Dragon Lair at MFF and get my lift on. I’ve been training almost exclusively there for the last month. The gym that I pay for, on Long Island, is for the days when I can’t get train at MFF, when we’re packed or my schedule doesn’t allow for it. What I’ve realized though is pretty simple, and applies to most everyone:
We avoid going to the gym because we don’t feel comfortable there.
We say that it’s inconvenient. We say that it’s too expensive. We say that it’s too busy, or we’re too busy., or a whole other load of excuses. It’s all a big fat lie. We don’t go to the gym because we’re uncomfortable.
Physical activity is a perfect recipe for a social interaction. The “happy chemicals” are having a party while you perspire, and it’s a recipe for having. All of the dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins in the world aren’t going to drive you to enjoying exercise if you’re uncomfortable with the exercise process in general.
The vast majority of us are completely on our own when it comes to best determining an exercise program to best suit our needs. If “The goal of physical education is to educate people to the point at which, when given the choice, they’ll voluntarily choose to be physically active” then physical education is failing.
It has lead to a world where most of us feel like this:
That’s a world that has no place in the future. Lack of physical activity or movement skills is a surefire way to feel like a stranger in your own skin, and that discomfort is not to be taken lightly.
Let’s not search for blame; that’s a surefire way to get nowhere. Yes, the physical education system is broken, but it’s getting better. Yes, the pay-per-month gym system is broken, but it’s getting better. There is an increasing number of fitness facilities that offer a blend of small-group training, large group training, and programming so that you can learn the movements that your body needs and you enjoy. That’s how we find pleasure in perspiration, instead of lying to ourselves about our workouts.
If the last fitness book you read was from last decade, you may want to look into something new. If you don’t remember the last time you changed your program, you may want to look into something new. This isn’t about change for the sake of change, but more about the process of learning what your body needs.
This life-long process of physical education is to help us enjoy the most appropriate exercise possible, without hopping on the treadmill before hitting the machine circuit because it feels safe, or talking about your high school bench press numbers because you feel old.
This is about calling yourself on your own bullshit, on the lies that you tell yourself about why you don’t go to the gym. It’s not a meathead demand that you must go to the gym, and I’m not castigating those who don’t go to the gym. There are strategies and systems for you to feel comfortable while exploring movement.
If we never address the underlying issues holding us back, then we can never move forward. Forward is a good direction to go.