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HOW DITCHING THE GYM IS TRANFORMING MY FITNESS

HOW DITCHING THE GYM IS TRANFORMING MY FITNESS

In the middle of 2022 I cancelled my gym membership. I’m now also eating more than ever without picking up weight. If anything, I’m leaner than before and to be honest, I feel the best I have felt in a long time.

Here’s how I’m doing it!

THE PATTERN I’VE BROKEN 

Every January gym membership sign-ups go through the roof. Everyone is feeling guilty that they’ve eaten and drunk a little more than they should have over Christmas and that they’ve picked up a few pounds. Due to some great marketing and social conditioning, as a society, we think the only way to get in shape is via a very expensive gym membership and a few classes a week. For some people this works and they enjoy it but for many more, they loathe the gym and subsequently fail in their quest to get fitter, abruptly falling off the wagon half way through January.

Some of the reasons some of us can’t stand going to the gym:

  1. It can be expensive. Even with a monthly contract, you could find yourself tied in and unable to cancel even if you stop going.
  2. It takes time travelling to and from the gym. With the additional travel time, a one-hour workout could end up taking 2-3 hours out of your day. Time is so incredibly valuable, and a lack of it is the most common barrier to consistent exercise.
  3. Gym culture can be overwhelming, judgemental, crowded and noisy, aspects that aren’t for everyone.

So surely there must be a better way for those of us who have an aversion to going to the gym.

REFRAMING YOUR ATTITUDE TO EXERCISE

Something I failed to appreciate for way too long was that, in essence, exercise is simply any physical activity that gets your body moving or using more energy, like walking or dancing. In fact, walking is widely recognised as one of the best forms of exercise by fitness experts, especially if your goal is to become leaner and toned.

In the past I used to run half-marathons (I vividly remember training for them by running up and down Table Mountain in preparation),  followed by a rigorous strength training session in the gym, which is completely unsustainable for me now.  So these days, I tend to shy away from intense workouts and choose gentler options. With this simple shift, a complete reframing has occurred. I look forward to exercise, and because of that, I find it easier to remain consistent. I’m also making less of a time commitment in doing so.

I’m wearing the Power UltraSculpt High-Waisted 7/8 Gym Leggings from Sweaty Betty. Shop them here

 

HOW TO FIND THE CONTINUED MOTIVATION TO EXERCISE

This brings me to the crux of this post, motivation. I don’t know about you, but for me, motivation has always proved the most difficult aspect.  I could keep rigorous exercise  going for while, but because I couldn’t sustain it over a long period of  time, motivation proved to be a huge stumbling block. To combat this, I’ve identified two areas that must be addressed to make exercise a sustainable part of your routine.

1- MAKE IT FUN

Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore; it should be something you look forward to. Find something you enjoy doing and do it regularly. Whether it’s swimming, cycling, dancing, or practicing martial arts. Experiment with different activities until you find what resonates with you the most. Last year I began rollerskating and even though I’m not exactly good at it, I am loving it. I’m using using muscles I never knew I had! When you partake in activities that bring you joy, your motivation becomes intrinsic, making it easier to stay consistent with your workouts.

Other ideas for ways to make exercise fun:

Find a workout buddy: Make it a bit of a social occasion. Instead meeting a friend for a glass of wine, go for a walk together instead. You still get to catch up but this way you’re burning calories instead of consuming them. If you suggest this to a friend I’m sure they’ll thank you for it.

Mix it up: Don’t be afraid to vary your workouts to keep things interesting. Incorporate different types of exercise to challenge your body and prevent boredom. I like a combination of 15 minute bodyweight workouts, rollerskating, yoga and walking.

2 – ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

Make it part of your life, rather than something you squeeze in between other commitments. Whether it’s waking up early for a morning walk or an evening yoga class, be sure to give it equal importance to other things you need to accomplish in your day. 

Ideas to help establish a routine:

Put it in your diary with everything else

That way you are more likely to keep your promise to yourself. This has been a pivotal mindset shift for me. I use this daily planner for everything from my work to-do list, to writing down what the children need for school, to which exercise I’m doing on which day at what time. Best believe if I write it down where I can see it, it gets done. 

Set realistic goals

Establish achievable fitness goals that align with your abilities and lifestyle. If your goals aren’t achievable, it will quickly become demotivating and increase the likelihood of you skipping exercise. It could be as simple as to get back in the dress that doesn’t fit anymore or to do 10 pushups.

Keep exercise short

If you only aim for 15-30 minutes of exercise, you really don’t have an excuse,  even if you are  having a busy day.

Incorporate movement into your daily tasks 

Identify journeys you can cycle or walk instead of driving in the week. If you fit exercise in while you are running errands and doing chores, it’s incredibly efficient for your schedule and it just happens without you having ot think about it, which means it’s more likely that you’ll actually stick to it. One way I incorporate exercise into my daily routine is by walking the children to school instead of driving. Sure, walking takes a bit longer, but this way, I get a brisk walk in twice a day. One round trip of dropping Rupert and Jasper off at their two different schools is a half-hour walk for me. Do it twice in one day, and it adds up to an hour. Do it 5 times per week and it adds up to a 5 hour walk. That’s a lot of energy burnt and muscles exercised in the week without setting foot in a gym once!

I’m wearing the Power UltraSculpt High-Waisted 7/8 Gym Leggings from Sweaty Betty. Shop them here

 

3 – MEASURE AND CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENT

Track your progress:

Keep track of your workouts, progress, and achievements. Whether it’s through a fitness app, journal, or simply marking in on the calendar, monitoring your improvements can boost your confidence and motivation to continue pushing yourself. Michael bought an Apple Watch last year and meeting the daily targets and monthly challenges have not only held him accountable, but it’s also gamified his fitness routine to create a reward system. 

Reward yourself:

Celebrate your accomplishments along the way. Rewarding yourself for your hard work can help reinforce positive habits and keep you motivated. You can even link these rewards to your realistic goals. For example, if I complete every workout I have timetabled over the next two weeks, I can buy those shoes I’ve had my eye on. Whoop! 

Just be careful not to make the mistake of making processed foods or alcohol the reward, as this will not only undo the good work, it will also lock you into a negative cycle.

FINALLY

If you want to get in shape and stay there, I’d recommend giving my tips some serious consideration. Whilst I acknowledge, it’s not the only way, I can tell you that I have been able to stick with this over a sustained period of time, which has made staying consistent so much easier. 

Stay tuned for the next blog post, where we’ll explore the importance of fuelling your body with the right nutrition to support your fitness goals. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of experts offering very different opinions. Michael and I have made a dietary commitment that many would consider extreme and it’s really working for us. I’ll tell all in the next post.

I’ll leave you with a few exercise hacks that work for me…

  • Walk instead of driving.
  • Buy some rollerskates. It’s tiring but I’m having so much fun that I don’t realise that I’m exercising!
  • Go for walks with family and friends.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning. You’re more likely to do it because you have less time to find excuses not to.
  • Exercise at home instead of classes at the gym. It takes less time out from your day than travelling to the gym or a class. If you need ideas there are tonnes of follow-along workouts on YouTube.
  • Dial down the intensity. You’re less likely to dread it and less likely to injure yourself.

I hope this helps!

Eleanor x 

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