Why do you go to the gym? Or not ...

Last updated 10:41 18/06/2010

Why do you go to the gym? Or, if you avoid the place like the plague, what’s your reason for this?

I was pondering this issue today, sometime around 7am as I lay flat on my back with my legs cycling in a dull but necessary ab exercise.Gym class

I reckon there are a few main reasons that motivate most people to go to the gym. Then of course, there’d be people who go for reasons unique to them.

Rather like the guy I saw out running once, when I was on a long walk with friends. We saw him three times in the space of about five hours and each time he was loping along at quite a pace. On the third meeting, my friend asked him what he was training for.

The answer? "Nothing. I’m just filling the day."

I love that guy. What a fantastic reason for running for five hours, in a heavy cotton t-shirt and board shorts no less.

I think the list of main reasons for gym attendance would include:

- It’s supposed to be good for your health and wellbeing
- To get fit
- As part of a training plan for a specific event or sport
- To keep up fitness in the event/sport offseason
- To lose weight/size or maintain a certain weight/size
- Rehabilitation
- Because endorphins are addictive
- Because it’s fun

I imagine most people go to the gym for a combination of reasons. I certainly do.

At the moment, I’m trying to fix my back issues, so am spending a lot of time getting acquainted with the gym mat, improving my core strength.

But I’ve also been an endorphin junkie for some time – too long without a fix and I get grumpy and unmotivated.  So I guess that’s the fun bit covered. Endorphin highs are a great way to start a day. And it’s no secret that I enjoy being fit and am trying to stay that way.

Sport specific training also motivates me to do things that I don’t find particularly fun, like weights training.

Losing or maintaining a certain weight/size, while certainly a factor, is more of a secondary reason. If I was told I could go to the gym but it wouldn’t impact on my size at all, I think I’d still go.

As for the reasons not to go, I can only come with a short list.
- It’s boring
- No time
- It’s too expensive
- It’s not enjoyable
- It's pretentious

There are probably more, but I’m better at thinking of reasons to go, rather than to not.

But enough about me. How about yourself? Why do you go to the gym? And if you don’t, why not? Is it just that you don’t enjoy it, or do other factors influence your decision?

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Al   #1   10:48 am Jun 18 2010

I go because I got addicted to it and feel like s*** if I miss it for just one day! The health and aesthetic benefits are a huge plus...

Tom   #2   10:56 am Jun 18 2010

I've just been going to my local gym for that past 9 months to help my weight that balooned out after giving up smoking. I have a fairly standard routine (cardio and muscle combination) that is quite boring but listen to audio books on my ipod as being 50 odd, can't stand that techno rock that is played much too loud over the gym's pa system. I also use a personal trainer once a week doing boxing routines / ab work that I enjoy and suffer for if I havn't been to the gym during the rest of the week. I aim for four visits a week but normally do two.

R   #3   10:58 am Jun 18 2010

For me its a combination of liking to stay fit and healthy and that it beats sitting at home on the couch watching tv while talking about my day with my flatmates. Not that I don't enjoy talking with my flatmates, but we all really need to get better work stories. Also, like you Ann, tend to get cranky without exercise and find i sleep a LOT better if I've done some form of exercise.

AT   #4   11:01 am Jun 18 2010

I bought a year long gym membership in December last year, when I was running 2-3 times a week, swimming once a week and going to Pilates 1-3 times a week. I thought by buying a gym/pool membership I'd be able to save money. But it turned out to not be right for me. The class times for Pilates didn't work so I kept going to the other classes, and because I'd paid for this membership I felt like I should use the gym instead of running, and that sort of fell by the way side. Bad choices on my behalf but basically I lost motivation because I disliked the place so much. So in April I sold the membership and I'm back to the old plan and doing much better and happier for it! I have a treadmill at home for this time of year when it's too dark before and after work to run (we don't really have street lights either and it gets pretty frosty so slightly dangerous) and I have a home Pilates program as well as the classes which I'm regularly attending. I don't have the excuse of it being 20 mins drive to the gym - because everything is at home (Other than pilates which is next door to work).

I think gyms work really well for some people - just not for me.

sean   #5   11:03 am Jun 18 2010

I avoid the gym now, after going to one for 8 years. I found that I enjoy running outside in the hills far more than running on treadmills. Also, all you need for a weights program is dumbells and the floor (for pressups), unless you're there to lift massive amounts of weight.

Of course, this takes a pretty dedicated, self driven person to actually do - lots of people forgo the gym for similar reasons and then don't do anything at home.

poppie   #6   11:03 am Jun 18 2010

I prefer to exercise outside since I'm training for an ultramarathon, but i'll hit the gym in winter if the weather is ridiculously horrific or really icy on the pavements, or in summer if its ridiculously hot. Otherwise I'll brave most conditions and head outside. It's there as a backup for when i can't maintain my normal runs due to blizzards/heatwaves.

Mark   #7   11:08 am Jun 18 2010

Your right, exercising at 7am is dull. I go to the gym 3 times a week, my wife and I both go, we motivate each other, it's great. We go to classes together, we aren't after model type figures but we enjoy getting fitter and a better quality of life

Warwick   #8   11:09 am Jun 18 2010

Back issues eh? You need to find a good specialist who knows what they are talking about. Unfortunately very rare..... I had issues for years, I tried getting fit to fix it, but the pain made that DAMN hard. In the end I was lucky enough to find a specialist who knew what he was talking about and seems to have sorted it! He worked on the actual cause rather than just cracking my spine every few weeks. Blaming lack of core strength seems to be the typical cop out by back benders.

Athene   #9   11:17 am Jun 18 2010

I go but i dont find it enjoyable ... its quite a chore actually. I have to really force myself to walk there after work. Mornings are just not an option now that i live in the hutt.

John   #10   11:17 am Jun 18 2010

To me, the gym is a machine. I walk in, spend 1 or 2 hours on the elliptical trainer (depending on my weight that day), then I leave. The goal is to lose weight. It's not fun, I don't do it to build muscle, I don't get endorphins, but I do lose weight.

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