As a personal trainer I wanted to try and think about how I would answer this question. And the answer starts with:
Well, it depends.
Super enlightening I know. Bare with me.
Before we can work out whether or not you need to go to a gym, we need to figure out a few things. There’s nuance to this question.
If you are considering joining a gym it is probably because you want to start exercising or get back into exercising, right?
You can get fit and strong without a gym. From running outside to investing in some equipment to access workouts in your living room, there are ways to buzz off those endorphins without a gym membership.
But actually, your intentions behind starting exercise and your perceptions of what it will actually do for you are much more important than whether you’ll use a gym or not.
When clients come to consultations, they seem to have this idea that exercise will fix everything. Or rather, working with a PT will fix everything.
Honestly. From there rocky relationship, lack of work life balance to their deep rooted body image issues.
Because diet culture has taught you that weight loss has all the answers and that a PT can unlock that for you. You are not only miss sold the idea that weight loss is easy to achieve with the right directions but that it is necessary in order for you to be attractive, successful and confident.
And it’s all utter rubbish*
*insert more dramatic swear word for emphasis.
With that said, finding your why can make all the difference when it comes to exercising. As Sonya Renee Turner says “Lining up the WHAT and the WHY is how we align our radical self love motive”… so lets get into the why first of all.
If you’re like me, you’re not getting any younger. Bone density and lean muscle mass starts to deteriorate from as early as 30 years old and it’s a case of use it or lose it. All forms of exercise from walking to hiit classes are weight bearing, that means you’ll put stress on your bones which will make them stronger and denser.
Loss of muscle mass is also the biggest contributor of losing your mobility as you age so any exercise that keeps you strong will help combat the effects of this type of ageing. From yoga to strength training, there are lots of options to help keep your body feeling strong meaning you’re more likely to be able to move well when you’re older and less likely to become injured.
I get it. Being able to jazz when you’re older doesn’t sound quite as sexy as ‘beach body’ or ‘booty gainz’ but we should normalise it as one of our main reasons for maintaining a consistent exercise regime throughout our lifetime. Each work out is money in the body bank for our future.
Just in case you needed a more comprehensive list, the physical benefits of exercise include:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Increased strength
- Improved posture
- Improved stamina
- Improved mobility
- increased flexibility
- Reduced risk of injury & pain reduction
- Increased interoceptive awareness
- Lowers mortality risk
- Less risk of heart disease & stroke
- Less risk of certain types of cancer
- Less risk of osteoarthritis
These physical benefits are pretty cool and it is worth mentioning that these apply irrespective of weight loss (I’ll talk about how problematic it is to focus on weight another time).
Now on to the mental benefits.
The word ‘progress’ pops up a lot in fitness spaces but when we look at the mental benefits of exercise, sometimes it doesn’t need to be about progressing anything at all. Some weeks I do my work out and I don’t put my weights up or record a single thing. I’m enjoying going through the motions and using that time as stress relief.
- Improved sleep
- Increased self esteem
- Improved body image
- Improved cognitive performance
- Better focus & attention
- Increased productivity
- Stress relief
- Intervention for depression & anxiety
- Reduced risk of depression & anxiety
- Mood boosting (hello endorphins)
- Sense of satisfaction & achievement
- Increased confidence
- A way to connect/interact with others
It’s also important to mention here that improved confidence, self esteem & body image can also be achieved irrespective of weight loss.
Ok, so now you have all of these amazing reasons to start exercising it is really important to focus on the ones that are most relevant to you. You can only find the ones that are most relevant to you if you find a form exercise that you enjoy and can fit into your routine.
There’s nothing worse than attempting to use exercise for stress relief if it is also exercise that gives you a sense of existential dread before you begin (hello hiit class).
That’s where the WHAT comes in. What exercise will you use?
Where does the gym fit in? The gym can help you live out both your what and why for exercise. There’s equipment that most people can’t access at home and it is a space away from home which can be important if you already work from or spend a lot of time at home. I’ll discuss the pros and cons of gym membership another time too.
*Writes list of all the things to discuss another time.
For now, that’s it.
The only list of exercise benefits you need to know about to find your why.
Before you go, I just want to let you know that I provide my coaching emails and blogs for free with no marketing ploys like *buy my work out plans* or *join my squad* etc but if you find this free content useful and you want to support me, you can find the paypal link to buy me a coffee anywhere on the right side of this website. Think of it as my own personal tip jar.