17 In Self-care

10 Things I Learned at the Gym

10 Things I Learned at the Gym

Throughout my life I’ve swung between extremes. From couch potato to gym junky, I excelled at both ends of the spectrum.

At my lowest of lows I found it hard to move or leave the house, battling agoraphobia (the extreme or irrational fear of open or public places), and at other times I would torture myself with fat talk and feelings of guilt, so much so that I couldn’t go a day without going to the gym.

I haven’t been to the gym for years now, ever since I gave up my personal trainer and gym membership because I just couldn’t be bothered anymore (and I’d hurt my wrist). I also think my body – and my mind – were calling for a different type of TLC. Something a lot more kinder to my self.

So what exactly did I learn at the gym?

1. Working out at the gym can be really addictive

Whether it’s the release of endorphins, the adrenalin, the weight loss, muscle gain, or good-looking people, the gym can be addictive once you get over the hurdle of actually showing up.

It’s a fine line. Sure, it’s great to exercise every day in an environment that motivates you, but everybody needs rest and time to recoup. And as someone with an addictive personality and body image issues, it was incredibly easy for me to become addicted to the gym.

It didn’t take long for the anxiety to set in if I missed a day here and there. These feelings quickly developed into ‘fat feelings’  if I missed a day or if I didn’t go to the gym every day of the week… even on a Sunday.

I knew this wasn’t healthy for me. I’d been down that road before, and so I knew it had to end before I ended up an exhausted mess. This is what I remind myself of everytime the thought of joining a gym again pops into my mind. Gyms can be dangerous places for people with body image issues and anxiety.

10 Things I Learned at the Gym

2. Learn to listen to your body

Everyone’s body is different, therefore every workout affects everyone’s body differently. Just because something works for one person it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you! I encourage you to listen to  your body. After all, you know how you feel, no one else does. Personally speaking, my left wrist will never be the same again after over working it and ‘pushing through the pain‘ because my personal trainer told me to. If something doesn’t feel right, then stop doing it. It may hurt for a reason (and not a good reason).

3. Shop around

Those helpful, friendly gym people are really master sales practitioners. I have been suckered more than I am going to admit!Before signing your life away to a gym membership you may or may not get value from, make sure you shop around and take advantage of free trial periods before locking yourself in to a contract. After all, you want to find a place that is flexible to your schedule and budget, where you feel comfortable, where the facilities and classes are good, and where the staff and people are actually friendly. Oh, and I’m positive you can find a gym where you don’t have to lock yourself into a ridiculous contract you will end up having to talk yourself out of.

Before signing your life away to a gym membership you may or may not get value from, make sure you shop around and take advantage of free trial periods before locking yourself in to a contract. After all, you want to find a place that is flexible to your schedule and budget, where you feel comfortable, where the facilities and classes are good, and where the staff and people are actually friendly. Oh, and I’m positive you can find a gym where you don’t have to lock yourself into a ridiculous contract you will end up having to talk yourself out of.

4. Allow your body – and mind – time to recover

Your muscles and overall body needs time to rest and recoup between sessions (yes, it really does!) so it’s really important that you allow yourself some downtime, or at least decrease the intensity of your workouts every second day.

Do yourself a favour and mix it up. Focus on different areas of your body throughout the week. Take a yoga lesson. Sit in the sauna. Treat yourself to a bloody massage. Or why not go for a walk outside in the fresh air?!

Do yourself a favour and mix it up. Focus on different areas of your body throughout the week. Take a yoga lesson. Sit in the sauna. Treat yourself to a bloody massage. Or why not go for a walk outside in the fresh air?!

5. Are you actually having FUN?

The gym is not for everyone. Seriously. And that’s TOTALLY okay!

I tell ya, if you aren’t enjoying yourself at the gym go do something else. Exercise should actually be fun! It certainly doesn’t have to be torture.

I fully support finding something that is enjoyable. Roller skating, pole dancing, kickboxing, rock climbing, belly dancing, shopping. (Yes, I said shopping. I know my heart races and break out in a sweat when I shop).

6. Good shoes are a must!

If you are going to spend money on anything, make sure that you invest in a good pair of shoes for your workout. Actually, make that two good pairs of shoes: one pair for cardio (like running and walking), and another for weight training and other exercises.

7. Enjoy the quiet periods

Gym’s are best experienced in the quiet periods, say during the day or on Sundays, where you have the pick of the equipment and the room to breathe. Of course, I am an introvert and I find those quiet periods at the gym so much less intimidating with fewer people around. I’m also less paranoid when I see myself in the mirror…

8. Work out gear

I once had a light grey pair of workout pants. The problem is that I sweat a lot when I work out…there’s nothing worse than catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror where it looks like you have wet yourself… *cringe*

To prevent any embarrassment, especially when your hunky trainer is spotting you, get yourself some appropriately coloured workout gear – preferably bottoms in black. Oh, and make sure they aren’t see-through – that’s not a good look for anyone, even if you’ve got a rock hard ass!

9. Call in a friend

I loved going to the gym by myself. It was my chance to get out of the house and just tune out. But at other times I felt lonely or out of place (or uncool…). It was during these times that it helped dragging my boyfriend along with me. I could also then rely on him to drive me home afterwards when muscle fatigue kicked in and I couldn’t walk!

10. Gyms are full of Gods and Goddesses…and then there’s people like me

You know the ones I’m talking about! Perfect makeup and hair, hardly breaking a sweat, trendy clothes, great form, perfect breathing…

I don’t know how people do it. I am the least glamorous person when I work out. I breathe like I’m going to have an asthma attack at any minute, sweat buckets the minute I look at a treadmill, and walk around the gym like the klutz I am.

If anyone knows the secret please let me know.

In the end, whether you’re a gym junky or choose to do something a whole lot gentler, it’s important to remember to look after both your body AND you mind because then you will be nurturing your overall wellbeing.

Gyms are full of Gods and Goddesses...and then there's people like me

If you liked this, maybe you’d like to read about what I learned when I went on a detox program. Needless to say, whey protein shakes made me really sick!

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  • Mackenzie Glanville
    February 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Shopping! Oh yes now we are talking I’m off to do that work our tomorrow! You are right when you say we need to find what sits us, any exercise is better than being a couch potato. I must say though I’ve always preferred a busier gym because I can hide from the trainers more, when I’m one of the only ones there they want to focus their attention on me, I prefer to work out at my own pace.

    • Janine Ripper
      February 5, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      Love your perspective. I’m such an introvert I was always so self-conscious and paranoid in crowded gyms. I went shopping yesterday as I got paid – now that was awesome – and I certainly worked up a sweat! Of course, 85% humidity may have helped…

  • Maureen
    February 5, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    First of, I adore how you put 1/4 after your age 😀 Girl, we are not far apart!

    I absolutely love this post. I haven’t been to the gym in awhile and I miss it so much but I’m thinking I need to sign up in a new gym just because. Anyway, these are awesome things.I agree with you on dark pants. I once saw a girl at my gym who while look great wore a skin colored hot pants and it’s just way too much hahaha.

    I hope you will feel better soon, girl! Hugs!

    • Janine Ripper
      February 5, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Haha that’s the same as Mac. We are all pretty much the same age!

      I’ll feel better soon. With some of my stressors in life resolved I should be feeling better, hopefully, soon!

      I think I kinda miss the gym too. Working from home I think it would get me out of the house a bit. There are so many gyms but its so hard to find a really good one!

  • Debra@DailyStyleNotes
    February 6, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Great tips. I don’t go to a gym so I never thought about the right color of clothing to wear but it does make sense. I absolutely agree with shopping being a great way to burn calories. It’s a sport! 🙂

  • Rina
    February 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Oh I hope by the time I wrote this you have gotten well, free of migraine. I nodded to all the 10 things, especially the quiet periods. I hate overcrowded gym where I have to stand in line just for a 30 mins treadmill. Thank you so much for linking up again Janine 🙂

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Oh it had but its back. I think its my back actually…I think a massage is the answer! Thank you too Rina xx

  • Joy
    February 10, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Yep, you’re absolutely right that the gym is not for everyone…like me! I don’t enjoy it but I do agree with you that when it comes to exercising, shoes are SUPER important and so is listening to your body. For the past 3 weekends, our family has been enjoying walking at the park and it’s great exercise for us as well as family bonding time :-)) I prefer that over the gym.

    • Janine Ripper
      February 11, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Man that sounds lovely. I’ve been trying to get Den to walk with me for 2 years!!! Maybe I need to dangle some kind of carrot in front of him! hehe or I need to find another walking buddy.

  • Marie
    February 10, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I hate the gym!

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  • Suzannah
    April 8, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Oh my God! I so needed to read this. Have just lost 37 kg after gastric sleeve surgery. Now that people can’t tell me I’m fat , they have started to put pressure on me to join a gym. I hate gyms. They make me so anxious and I get almost ill when I miss a session. The self talk is terrible so knowing I’m like that why would I bother???
    These days I’m more into self care than going to gyms.

  • Rachel
    April 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Hey Janine,

    I have always struggled with exercise. Mind you I am a walker. I do get out and about four to five times a week and get up to an hours walk in a day. But I don’t consider this exercise as its my time to day dream. Gym for me is not the go. After all this time I have finally worked out that I can do something four days a week for twenty minutes and pretty much stick with it. I can build myself up slowly to high impact if that’s what I want. While it may not be a lot of time, its realistic and that’s what I am after. I know I won’t go to the gym for long. But I will certainly give myself enough of a talking to if I don’t do my 20 minutes four times a week.

    I liked your tips, they are sensible and practical. I have overworked my muscles, my body feeling tired and heavy, ignoring it and continued on. Once I stopped I stopped for a long period of time. Now I go for yoga and I bust a move on my carpet with some DVD or something on the internet. Throw in a day at the pool for change and my walks and I have found the routine for me. Thanks for the reminder.

    Rachel

  • Dana
    April 14, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Janine,

    This is AWESOME!
    I could have written this myself.

    I’m a fitness professional and wellness coach – and I LOVE what you said about listening to your body.

    The truth is, not all pain is good pain, yet we hear “no pain, no gain” constantly in the health and fitness industry.

    Injuries can and do happen and quite often, it’s because someone didn’t heed the warning their body was giving them and did as your trainer told you to do – which was “push through the pain.” The school I attended for personal training is owned and run by a well-respected professional. Inside Edition had contacted him to do a story titled “Are All Personal Trainers Qualified?” In it, there’s a story of a woman who also “pushed through the pain” at the instruction of her trainer and she’s now permanently disabled due to a back injury.

    Exercise can be fun. The “all or nothing” mentality isn’t necessary – at least not for everyone. It’s a good idea to get in touch with what we feel most aligned with and follow that. It’s the way to live your truth. This is when our actions are in alignment with our thoughts and feelings.

    I was over 200 pounds with every eating disorder there is. I lost the weight the right way and I implement balance. This is how to do it if you want to stay in love with the process.

    This is a great post and I’m glad I found my way here (thanks to Rachel for sharing it).
    Good to meet you 🙂

  • Lea Bullen
    July 26, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Hi Janine,

    I was never really big on working out. And honestly thought it was bologna when people said they felt better doing it. I can admit I don’t feel so hot when I’m working out but afterward and later in general I do feel good. So once I get over the strain when challenging myself to go a little farther, I learned it’s worth it and I can get into it.

    ~Lea

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