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Before you quit the gym, read this

Last year, I quit the gym after convincing myself that I don’t like the noise level, the sweat smell, sticky machine handles (from the previous sweat soaked hand),  the rap music and cramped classes. And I saw no point of paying for the high gym membership and then forcing myself to go there to workout amidst the ‘noisy’ music. After more than 6 months of ‘putting up’ , I finally quit the gym.

If you are feeling the same as me, and consider quiting, then read on.

After quiting the gym, I did my rounds in public parks- there are many slim people, elderly people, ‘real’ people actually exercising and enjoying themselves. The sound of children laughing and playing seemed to provide so much more life. Sometimes, there’s the nice evening breeze.

But exercising in the park also meant that the intensity was less- often, it was more of a walk in the park than real running. After all, the concrete road is hard and also we often run into the risk of bumping into people. So I slowed down, “smelled the roses” as they say.

My exercise intensity reduced, and as work stress got more, I took the weekend to ‘recuperate’ and do stuff that I enjoy- and find less time to go to the park.

And over the period of one year, I watched to my horror of my gradual weight gain- my butt, arms, arms and of course midriff got bigger and fatter. I was losing muscles. Each time people whom I’ve not met for a few months saw me they told me I’ve put on weight. I felt more tired but luckily I discovered wai tan kung which dilligent daily practice help to drastically reduce my fatigue levels to enable me to get through the workday. Still, due to the lack of intensity in cardio and almost no strength training, I was fast gaining weight.

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The turning point came when one day I could not fit into a pair of work pants which I had bought in less than 2 years. It brought home that I had to do something before I go back to my old weight- I had only 5 kilos to gain before I was back at my heaviest.

And so, I’ve decided to rejoin back the gym, for the 3rd time.  I have some friends who are regular gym goers and they urge me to attend some of the classes instead of just doing cardio and weights. And well, I thought to myself, years ago I had joined classes but dislike it and only used the machines from then on.

But why not just commit to go for a few classes- just have the instructor made us do the move, and have ‘group pressure’ to ensure we comply- I mean, it looked sort of silly if we just stand there while everyone’s working out. Do time- and then once the hour is up, just leave.

The first class I went back in was crowded, full of sweating bodies and you can smell the sweat everywhere. The music was also so loud that it is deafening. But you know what, I’ve actually enjoyed it. After a while, you forgot about the smell and like what the gym rats said, the more crowded the class is, the more motivated once does the exercise. I  was worried about my stamina as I did not go for classes for years- but was surprised that I did not really feel tired- which I attribute from the improved internal circulation that came from my daily wai tan kung exercises.

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Just 1 hour- 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes, you can even combine a less intensive exercise with a cardio class. Go for different classes.  Just get on with the motions, do the stuff, sweat it out and then get on with the rest of you life. You don’t even have to think or plan your workout- go into the class and just follow what everyone else is doing.  Initially, you may not even like the classes- but once you start to see results, you would want to continue.

After attending these cardio classes, I felt my fitness had moved to a new level. Because of improved circulation, the lungs and heart are getting used to working harder, they get stronger. When your heart and lungs get stronger, you feel less tired. Your circulation is good, your fitness levels goes up. That feelings rise about all- it improves your productivity, concentration and mental energy. It makes you get your butt up and moving instead of lying lazily on the couch (at the same time you may also hate yourself for being so lazy- but it could be a low fitness level that cause that level of fatigue).

My main motivator of rejoining back the gym had been for health- but with improved fitness, I feel much more energetic. If you work in a stressful job (like me) and don’t exercise enough, the negative stress and energy may stay in your body and eventually wreck your health. When we exercise we release endorphins that helps to lift our mood. You can go for kicking and punching classes and do these exercise intensively- and releasing your stress away.

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And I also realised that it I should not blame the external noise. The external noise would not affect us unless internally we are ‘noisy’ inside. Then the outside noise would affect us. Perhaps the past hectic year or so of working in this environment- that I am learning to cope and gradually learn not to sweat the small stuff that had changed my entire perspective of the gym.

In the past, I was getting into my own way towards buiding my fitness- convincing myself that I don’t like classes, I don’t like the noise and the exercises are not fun. And who is the loser? Who is the one that gains more weight, be more sluggish and feel more lousy?

It’s nobody else but me.

Why I admit this is because I realised that often we get in our own way towards reaching our goals. We form an opinion based on certain negative or lopsided views and stubbornly stick to our guns. If we do that, we are only on the losing end.

Therefore, I  hope you would not make the same mistakes as me. Learn from my mistake.

Find an exercise program that you enjoy-it may not need to be the gym. It can be twice a week of badminton or trekking. So long as you love the activity, you’ll likely stick to it. It is because of the feeling of wellbeing I am experiencing through improved fitness levels that is a motivator for me to continue my exercise program.

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