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