Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

5 Reasons You Should Go to the Gym (That Have Nothing to Do With Body Image or Weight Loss)

Posted on Feb 7, 2018 by Lisa Ricard Claro   14 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

My daughter Stephanie is a gym rat. She joined CrossFit Ozone a number of years ago and was never heard from again.

Okay, that isn’t true. She didn’t disappear, but she does spend 1-2 hours after work every day lifting, squatting, and doing a bunch of other things that have weird names, like burpees and double-unders. When she tells me about these exercises, it is apparent she enjoys a love/hate relationship with them—I share a similar bond with red velvet cake, so I totally understand. She tried to convince me to join a CrossFit class, but the idea of doing something called a ‘medicine ball clean’ gives me the heebie-jeebies. Sounds like you’d need a hazmat suit just to get started.

Still, there are benefits to gym-going. The hubster and I joined a gym in November. He goes Sunday through Friday, so I’m a slacker at only three times a week, but he’s a smart man and never ribs me about it. I go for circuit training and the stationary bike, though sometimes I’ll switch it up and use the cross-trainer machine. Or maybe it’s an elliptical. Who knows which it is? I call it the torture device, and the hubster knows exactly what I’m talking about. Anyway, the point is, I go to the gym three days a week, but not because I’m dieting or want my body to look better. The reason I go to the gym is because a few years ago my cardiologist told me I have borderline diastolic dysfunction and need to keep my heart healthy. This is my top goal, to keep the old ticker ticking. Back in Georgia we had a treadmill, and I walked two miles a day on that thing for years. But after we moved, there was no room for the machine. Ergo, our gym membership was born.

This morning, as sweat poured off me like water through a sieve, I questioned this singular devotion to my heart health. I know that as I’m strengthening my heart I’m also doing untold good to the rest of my body, but it isn’t always easy to remember that when I’d rather be at Peach’s Restaurant downing pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and a whole pot of steaming coffee. As it happens, the gym is right next door to the restaurant, so while circuit training I see everyone going into and coming out of Peach’s. They all look so happy. Especially the ones on their way out. *sigh*

In order to keep my head in the exercise game, I began thinking of all the reasons to go to the gym. The first, of course, were the usual suspects: lose weight, tone up, be healthy. Everyone thinks of those first. And then I considered the other reasons. There are many, but here are the top five that came to mind:

5. New sneakers and cute workout clothes. Back in the day, we ran around in leg warmers and matching sweatbands. These days it’s spandex britches and sports bras. And there are so many choices for shoes, so many colors now. All these years later, exercise clothes still make us look adorable. 🙂 Yeah, I know . . . and give us something to laugh about later.

4. Make new friends . . . or not. The gym is a great place to make friends, or not. It is totally your choice. There is a lady named Andrea who does the circuit training around the same time I do, and though we don’t chit-chat beyond a standard greeting or hang together outside of the gym, we light up when we see each other. Like me, she’s there to workout, not shoot the breeze, so while I appreciate her presence, it’s nice to have nothing else required of me other than grunting and guzzling water between sets. We look at each other knowingly, smile, and keep going.

3. People watch. Yep, this is a biggie. And where better to people watch than at a gym? There are those who show up with no interest in doing the circuit training properly, no interest in continuing once a bead of sweat appears. I know the only time I’ll see them again will be through the gym window as they’re walking into Peach’s for a big breakfast. I’m not judging—how can I, when I dream of joining them? No, no judging here. I’m just noticing. Then there are the musclebound who like to strut their stuff. These are the ones who arrive long before I and will still be working the machines long after I leave. Others are steady gym-goers who put in their hour before heading off to work. Some are folks who worked overnight, medical personnel perhaps, hitting the gym before going home to sleep. There are young people and old people. There are middle-aged people. Everyone has a story, and in addition to their real ones are the ones I make up in my head. That’s one perk to being a writer—never a dull moment. The old brain is always storytelling, and the gym offers plenty of fodder.

2. Bragging rights. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. When you’re late to an appointment there’s a little bit of personal satisfaction in being able to say, “Sorry, I got held up at the gym,” instead of “Sorry, I slept through my alarm.” Or worse, “They were busy at Peach’s this morning and it took forever to get my Big Breakfast Combo.”

And the NUMBER ONE reason to go to the gym is . . . *drumroll* . . .

1. An hour of “ME” time! Going to the gym means an hour or more of “me” time. While I’m at the gym, I’m not worried about revisions or deadlines or if the dogs need a bath. While counting reps, pedaling faster to accommodate the bursts on the stationary bike, or considering my mental state as I’ve voluntarily begun work on the torture device, I’m not thinking of anything else—not bills to be paid, not work to be done, not anything except what keeps my muscles moving in the moment. My hour in the gym is all about me. I especially love the stationary bike because I put my headphones on and listen to music while enjoying The Golden Girls (that show just never gets old) or the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet (excessive cuteness) on the little screen built into the machine. Closed caption means I get to enjoy my music and the shows both at the same time. What’s not to love?

Seriously,  buttercup, exercise is important for all of us. Join a gym or start a home program before a cardiologist tells you it is imperative that you do. Also, sitting is “the new smoking” in terms of how bad it is for your body—the impact to our internal organs from too much sitting is severe, and it encourages poor posture and skeletal issues as well. If you work at a job where you sit all day, such as writing, editing, or office work, please look into exercising if you don’t already. It may not be as easy or as fun as breakfast at Peach’s, but it sure is better for you in the long run.

Do you go to the gym or exercise in other ways? Swimming, biking, hiking, walking, jogging? Can you think of reasons other than those I’ve mentioned that might offer incentive? Please comment. You know I’ll comment back. 🙂

Thanks for reading. See you next week for more of the Naked Truth!

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print just click the book cover on this blog’s sidebar. Autographed copies are available for purchase on my HOME page. 🙂  The audio versions of Love Built to Last and Love to Believe are available HERE now!

14 Responses to "5 Reasons You Should Go to the Gym (That Have Nothing to Do With Body Image or Weight Loss)"

  1. Comment by Bryce Warden
    February 7, 2018 at 2:06 pm  

    I have been going to the gym for over 30 years. I love it. I used to do my own thing – weights, running on the treadmill,etc. For the past 10 years I have enjoyed taking different classes. I push myself harder if there are witnesses. It’s cheaper than therapy.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 10:55 am  

      Witnesses. Ha! So true. 🙂 Except for a stint with aerobics back in the early ’80s, I’ve always worked out at home. I love to walk, so although I prefer to be outdoors, I don’t mind the treadmill. Going to the gym is requiring a certain type of discipline I’ve not experienced before. Not a bad thing.

  2. Comment by Jennifer
    February 7, 2018 at 2:40 pm  

    I walk for a minimum of 40 minutes 5 days a week. It’s me time allowing for exercise of the body and the mind because I listen to audiobooks. I couldn’t do it without books 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 10:56 am  

      I’m also a walker, Jennifer. Love to walk.

  3. Comment by Pat Wahler
    February 7, 2018 at 3:47 pm  

    Excellent advice, Lisa. Now if I could only follow it.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 10:56 am  

      Ah, there’s the rub! lol

  4. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    February 7, 2018 at 3:51 pm  

    Great post; now if I can just follow your advice. 🙂

    I used to walk 3 miles a day on a treadmill but there was no room for it when we moved. Eons ago I did water aerobics and loved it. The thing with going to the gym is kind of like dieting. Once you skip a day or three it’s easy to not get back on track – the story of my life.

    I know the gym you speak of, good friends go there, and it’s reasonably priced; I have no legitimate excuse for not joining. And Peaches! I love that place.

    Bronchitis has been kicking my a$$ since Friday. I think I’m finally starting to feel better.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 10:58 am  

      Sorry you were sick, but glad to hear you’re on the mend. There is definitely a lot of “stuff” going on out there right now with this cold & flu season. Yes, Peach’s rocks. I wasn’t kidding about that breakfast. I LOVE their Big Combo and can eat the WHOLE thing with no trouble at all. lol

  5. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    February 7, 2018 at 4:41 pm  

    We joined a gym but the new wore off after a few months and then the excuses poured forth like the sweat that used to run off our foreheads. We do walk the aisles of the big box stores 4-5 times per week.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 11:00 am  

      That sort of walking definitely counts, Linda. It’s exercise, and good for you. It is easy to find excuses not to go to the gym, though I’m always glad when I push through and do it anyway. I think it has to do with motivation. To look good or lose weight was never enough for me. The heart thing, though? Yeah. That got me moving and is enough to keep my discipline in working order. Both of my parents died from heart attacks, so I take it very seriously.

  6. Comment by Stephanie
    February 7, 2018 at 5:33 pm  

    I too have a gym membership. My gym is next to Kroger. So my dilemma is get groceries before and risk buying something that requires refrigeration or after in my “gym clothes”. As far as torture devices go, the elliptical is my machine of choice. I also have one at home but my dogs drive me crazy. So off to the gym I go! I need to add some weight circuits to my routine as Twin A is getting married at the end of July and I am considering a sleeveless dress. Oh, and my hubby tells me that I’m so slow on the elliptical machine that if I was on flat ground I’d just fall over…paints a picture, huh?

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 11:05 am  

      Haha…it does paint a picture. But slow or fast, you’re doing it, you’re moving, and that’s what counts. Even a little is better than none.

  7. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    February 8, 2018 at 10:28 am  

    Good for you on getting out to the gym and taking care of yourself! I recently joined a gym as well, mostly for their walking track because it’s just to cold to go outside and walk in the winter. My sister and I are planning to start going to exercise classes in a few weeks, and this, if I’m being honest, I am DREADING. But I’m with you on the benefits. It’s not about looking good as much as feeling good and taking care of myself. I’ll think about you when I’m gasping for breath and ready to die. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      February 9, 2018 at 11:08 am  

      Good for you, too! My advice to you is to start out slow. If you overdo it in the beginning you’ll be way too sore and that makes it so easy not to go back, or to delay going back. Slow but steady, etc. 🙂

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