As of today, I have been a gym-goer for six months and 10 days. And that’s six months longer than I’d ever imagined. While once the gym was my failsafe go-to anecdote for things you’d never willingly devote time to, I’ve discovered a new love in it. It’s safe to say that fitness and wellness have become a huge part of my day-to-day life and I find myself talking about the gym or my Barre studio more than anything else in my weekly schedule. I’ve even sacrificed my midweek Netflix ‘slot’ to make use of a quieter gym floor because Thursday is the new Friday. Who am I?!
I’m often asked questions on Twitter and Instagram about how I began to enjoy the gym, how I personally got started in fitness, or for advice if somebody wants to start incorporating fitness to their lives but aren’t sure how. So today, I’m going to run through three things that I adore about the gym that aren’t the conventional ‘I lost 50st!’ mantras. Because I haven’t. (In fact, I’m gaining weight all the time as I’m focusing on building muscle mass and toning up!)
1 | Headspace
I work for myself, by myself, at home. While I recognise that this in itself is a huge privilege, I soon began to resent the fact that I was at home all day and throughout the evenings as there is little to do in my hometown.
I realised it was unhealthy to hole myself up morning, afternoon and evening, as well as sometimes on weekends, in the house. My gym membership started as a luxury outgoing and the cost alone holds me accountable for getting to the gym at least twice a week. I currently manage about four training sessions and then one weekly class at my Barre studio which is paid for separately. I absolutely LOVE heading to each, and it also gives me an hour outside from the house. A solo gym session with my headphones and a freshly squeezed podcast is my sanctuary: I can get my sweat on, focusing on little else aside from my form and how many reps I’m on.
Shop the look:
2 | Improving strength
Probably one of the most exciting things to report from my six-month gym membership is that I can now lift my own suitcase to the overhead units on trains!
When I was setting goals at my first ever gym induction, I was a) really giggly and embarrassed, b) clueless, and c) knew I didn’t want to solely aim to lose inches or shed lbs. I wanted to tone up and, therefore, increase my muscle mass, which comes hand in hand with not losing weight, but losing body fat. Although this ties in with diet which is a long-term goal, I’ve really found myself in love with strength training and pushing myself to up my weights with each week. Plate-loading has been one of the things that I genuinely enjoy because this is the most tangible recognition that I’m getting somewhere! Your girl just wants to be able to finish her grocery shop alone and carry two packs of 10kg tortoise terrain back to her car without having to wait around for help.
Fast forward six months and not only can I carry my own luggage, I’m able to do weighted exercises at around 15-20kg on my upper body, 80kg on my lower body and I’m even squatting 45kg. It is truly incredible to see what the human body can do and (humble brag alert) it inspires me daily to see how far I’ve personally come.
I log everything on my gym’s app but I highly recommend taking a little notebook with you and making a note of what you’re lifting each session, if only so in six months’ time YOU can flick through and see your incredible progress. The human body is genuinely insane.
3. I can sleep!
Lastly (for this post, anyway), I’m totally into how going to the gym has revolutionised my sleeping pattern. We live in quite a sedentary society where it’s all too easy to sit at a desk all day, sit on a commute if you’re lucky, return home and get horizontal. And that’s exactly how it was for me. I was tired from doing nothing at all! It’s odd how society conditions you to believe that an office job = goalz, and that anything else is of a lesser value, when nowadays, I’d truly value being able to be up and on my feet for a portion of my day so I could be tired from physical exertion! These days I spend around 25% of my office hours at a standing desk which has done wonders for my posture, back health and energy levels, but the gym is where I’ve seen a big difference.
I work out 4 or 5 times a week at the moment, each session lasting between 55 minutes to 70 minutes. That isn’t a regulated time slot, it just so happens that my current ‘routines’ last that long, but it has made a world of difference. I find it either sets me up for a productive day, or helps to get out some extra energy in the evenings. It also means that I’m fatigued enough that my sleep is back to an average of 8 hours and I’m also making efficient use of the hours in my day, as I like to make sure I can get everything I usually get done, done.