Most of the time, if we are used to paying for gym memberships fear to quit it because we may be worried that it would make us put on heaps of weight. Vision the fat growing out of control haunts us- and we remain helpless. So we become afraid of ending the gym because we have no confidence that we would be able to stuck out there on our own. Even though we hardly go to the gym, we still continue to pay for membership.
That was my experience. I had been a gym member since 2006. In the past, I’ve always been a frequent gym goer. But within the last 6 months or so, something within me seemed to be shifted. I no longer look forward to visiting the gym- I still obliging force myself to go but my visits are getting less and less frequent. Suddenly the music was too loud for me and the cardio machines are a chore to go through (I also don’t attend classes because don’t quite like the regimented structure of classes- do this, put this pose, etc, etc). With inflation and price of everything going up (but the salary remains), I realized it is no longer feasible to maintain the membership- after all, I don’t enjoy it.
And so I quit the gym.
After quiting the gym, I replaced the hours with walks around nature. I decided not to buy fancy exercise equipment yet (originally the Reebok mini trampoline caught my eye but the whole country seemed to be out of stock). The feeling is very different- often reality always does not turn out to be how we have imagined it to be.
Probably it’s a different way of looking at life now and the fact I am beginning to genuinely appreciate nature and my mind had learn to settle down instead of being so stressed up. But I really enjoyed the exercises. You see, in the parks and fields, people are there because they want to and genuinely enjoyed exercise. You can see people laughing or immersed in badminton, football or rugby, sounds of children’s laughter filling the air when playing at the playground, couples and families spending time together with a mat and picnic basket. And seniors who fit and obviously enjoying their exercises.
It is so different from the gym environment (sincerely sorry if I offend the gym buffs out there). Stressed faces and those who moan when lifting weights that are too heavy for them – after the weights, they drink their protein drink from a GnC bottle. They exercise as if trying to drive some demons (stress, anger) out of their system- hardly people greet and smile at one another. Still, I know of a few who genuinely love the gym because of the classes and have benefited a lot from them. They have a cheerful disposition and always smile spontaneously.
But sadly, majority are in the gym because they force themselves to. By paying, they hope that they would be able to force themselves to exercise. You see, already in life we have to force ourselves to do so many things that we don’t like in our lives- exercise is often done at leisure time out of work and if we continuously force ourselves and hate ourselves when we slipped up, then we would be repressing our hearts. Health, weight gain and emotional problems may follow- because life is nothing but performance, pressure, expectations and self-loathing. That is why most people wonder why even with gym membership and regular exercise, they gain weight easily and difficult to lose weight. When we repress and become unkind to our body, the body would rebel back.
While exercising in the park, I was amazed that I have forgotten the simple joys in life- how the best things in life are free. Fortunately, some of the parks here have exercise equipment- no doubt there are more people using them and you have to share. But you can always use other equipment or just wait. But the environment- happy kids, relaxed faces of people who is enjoying a workout and the cool breeze blowing against your skin are so rejuvenating. Most of the time, people are just wearing worn out shirt and simple pants instead of Nike and Adidas.
Last week while I was exercising in one of the park’s exercise equipment, a lady in Punjabi suit got on to the equipment next to me and flash me a shy smile. She was there with her husband and children- because she saw her husband and kids having so much of fun, she got on and try herself.