January 20, 2020

Why I quit the gym

I found myself getting really introspective a couple of weeks ago:

Why was I trying to go to the gym every day (or at least a few days a week)?

What was I hoping to accomplish?

Why was I plunking Wells into childcare when it was unnecessary, aside from the fact that I want him to be able to handle a childcare situation?

If it was that important to me, why couldn't I just wait until Scott got home and go at like 7pm? Or why couldn't we go all together, as a family, in the evenings?

To understand where I'm coming from, we need to go back to Alaska...

The gym was my safe place. Aside from my classroom, it's all I had when Scott was deployed for that one full year. A lot of my friends had young kids so we just kind of ran in different circles. I had my job and I had whatever I did on the blog and I had the gym. I made friends there and I had a schedule I kept to because it gave me structure. I didn't even have a dog!

So, when I move to a new place, I always think I wonder what gyms are nearby?...especially now that I'm not working. My job gave me a social outlet in Colorado for 4 years and our remodel and our dogs kept me busy enough that I didn't care about finding a gym and I didn't want to drive 45 minutes to one anyway. I would go to occasional classes on Ft. Carson but it wasn't fun or convenient like it was in Missouri and Alaska.

I developed a nice routine of just ("just" isn't a good word for it) Pilates and yoga (during pregnancy especially!) and dog-walking through the fields. Same in Wyoming.

It worked. It worked well.

When we came here, Scott wanted to join a gym so we got a family membership. He'd always had access to free military gyms (for PT, obviously) and had adored ("adored" isn't a strong enough word for it) the gym at the University of Wyoming.

Last winter, some nights I would go to the LA Fitness here, some nights he would go. But his job was unpredictable. His schedule would change at the last minute. And traffic: sometimes his commute would be 30 minutes, sometimes it was 90. I couldn't say I wanted to go to a 5:45pm class on Tuesdays because something would always come up. Or if Wells was fussy, it was harder to leave. And once he really started eating solids, dinner was a messy disaster and I didn't want to deal with the clean-up later that night. Or Scott, with his kind-hearted non-Cry-it-out parenting, couldn't get Wells to sleep at 7pm. I was the one who always pushed CIO (because it's worth it). It wasn't worth it to me, personally, to up-end the evening for everyone to go to a class I didn't really want to go to, with instructors who weren't that great, when I knew I could do 30 minutes of Pilates while we watched TV at night.

Sometimes I would go on the weekends. But it was HARD to get up at 7:30am for a class when I'd been up the night before 2-3 times with Wells. Back in those days, we were still sleeping until at least 9:00am because he wasn't sleeping through the night.

It just wasn't worth the sacrifice of me being exhausted the rest of the day.

I could've taken Wells to childcare at the gym, but no: I didn't trust them.  A lot of that came from the fact that LA Fitness had messed up our memberships more than once, had charged our credit card multiple times when they weren't supposed to, and couldn't provide competent customer service to save their own lives. I did not trust them with my baby.

So, I waited until he could walk before I tried that out.

And, to further complain about LA Fitness, I never felt like the instructors cared. I wasn't used to that. I'd never gone to a new-to-me class and not had the instructor introduce themselves. It's kind of teacher 101. I went to 20-30 classes, I bet, in the last year and an instructor never actually spoke to me. It's important to ask about modifications, health concerns, etc. if you don't know someone in your class. <<< This is why, if you can go to a private gym, it's probably worth your while. The instructors have more skin in the game and tend to care more.

Actually, some personal trainer from the gym kept calling me and saying they were offering free sessions and he kept setting up appointments for me; finally I said, No. When he asked why I was against a free session, I said I think it would be an unproductive use of my time and of his time and there were other people out there he could help. I said I had been a certified instructor and there was nothing he could tell me that I didn't know or hadn't been told before. He just laughed, said that was probably true, and that was the end of it.

It makes me slightly sick to know how gyms prey on people. Which is why, if you're going to find a gym, it's important to find one you trust and feel comfortable with. I felt the opposite with LA Fitness.

Scott and I talked through solutions to this problem:
Could we all go together? Well, the evenings are really crowded there right now, so no.
And I really hate the idea of wasting evenings when we can be playing and eating dinner and, you know, generally staying on a schedule.
Could we keep trying childcare? Eh. What was that going to accomplish, really? Me on a treadmill for 20 minutes? That seems pointless when we could be out on a playdate or running errands or anything other than rote cardio for the sake of rote cardio.

So. I went in and I canceled my membership. It wasn't a Chandler Bing moment. She just took me off the account but it's still good for 45 days, so I still have the membership until March 3rd.

I've been making a lot of use of Youtube workouts, using yoga, barre, Pilates...there's so much free content out there! Finding 20-30 minutes and feeling great at the end is a better use of time right now, rather than gathering everything up, going to the gym at a certain time (childcare was only open for certain hours anyway) and dealing with the stress and, this time of year, the cold. I don't need a gym membership to accomplish what I want to right now.

In addition, talking to another mom here, she told me how the YMCA she goes to does a childcare that is more like a daycare/camp, where they play with the kids and have games and stations. My jaw probably dropped open. The LA Fitness childcare is like a holding pen. There was only ever one lady I liked there. The others looked bothered.

That just made me mad and reaffirmed my current good decision-making skills.

What about you? Is the gym a yay or a nay? 

I have NO IDEA what things will look like in 6 months or in a year. I do know that if we're close enough to our next base for the gym to be convenient, I might pick up the habit again. Especially once Wells eventually starts preschool or nursery school or something (military gyms generally don't offer childcare). I have learned that fitness doesn't have to be tied to one gym, routine, or building.


  1. The only time we've ever had a gym membership was a few months during our last year in Michigan because Angel was training for a race and running outside in January-March is....sucky. I just joined him because it was a super cheap gym run by the township and we could hang out together. We were usually the only people there other than grandmas and grandpas taking their daily walks on the treadmills. It was fun...but Angel's preferred exercise is just running around on the street or else playing basketball and soccer, so that's his routine, and mine is typically Youtube pilates, both before baby and after. I like not having to leave my house, I like that it's free.
    My experiment in leaving Cyrus in "childcare" of some sort so that he does 'get used to it' is with nursery at our church. I like that it's really small, usually about four kids in the 1-2 year old room, and either I or Angel knows all the people who staff it, it's usually a mom of one of the toddlers in nursery that day with a teen helper or two.For the first maybe two months of Sundays he would cry when we left him, and once he even started crying as soon as we walked into church because he remembered...but after a few times of going consistently he realized that he loves playing with toys and his friends and now he doesn't even look back when we drop him off at the door.

  2. I’ve heard a lot of other people say similar things about LA Fitness. I worked with a girl who was very thin and fit (she looked like a model), and she said a trainer approached her and told her she needs to join his class so she can lose weight and look better. I was horrified.

    When we lived in our townhouse, we had a free gym basically two steps away. It was tiny, but I learned the hours to go when it wasn’t busy. I loved it. I also walked outside in the neighborhood constantly. Now we live in the country and the closet gym is 15-20 minute away. I’ve had a Planet Fitness membership for two years now we’re in the process of trying to cancel (they make it nearly impossible). I don’t mind it there and it’s cheap, but exercising while pregnant is just impossible for me, and I’m not going to be able to leave my nursing baby (assuming nursing works again) that long for me to drive there, work out, and drive home. So realistically, it’s going to be a solid year before I can make it happen. I can’t go until James is home, which means it’s later in the evening and I’m exhausted by then. We have a YMCA slightly closer, but the membership is astronomical. Plus it’s the one I used to work out at in high school, and the familiar faces about give me hives. And it’s always packed to the gills. Basically...yeah. I’m in the same boat. My plan is to take the girls on lots of walks once the baby comes.

  3. I personally enjoy going to the gym because it gets me out of the house. The are daycares at both places we go to and the kids are always having fun so I'm not worried with that if I ever need to use them. I think I'm also more motivated with others around me, ha!

  4. do what you feel is right for you. maybe right now isn't the right time for the gym, maybe it never will be again or maybe when wells is a bit older, things will change. the point is to do what you want to do and dont feel any guilt about that.

    personally, i need and love the gym. my entire family is gym-oriented and we make it a priority to fit it into our lives. now, that didn't happen when K was little; it was only more convenient when she was older and i was able to leave her to her class while i did my own workout.

  5. What works for one wouldn't work for others - I haven't had a gym membership for 3 years and don't miss it. I get my cardio by running, either outside or on the treadmill at home. I paid $99 for a year's access to Beachbody videos and stick with the same series for weight-training. I do get some FOMO when friends post group photos of meeting up at the Y, which is the one gym I refuse to go to (my ex-husband met his girlfriend there and they both still work there part time) but I remember why I won't go there and I can move on to other things. My kids won't go with me but if I feel like I need a gym for additional machines to use, I'll pay $10/month for Planet Fitness. My budget can't handle much more than that and I'd rather get my physical activity done outside anyway.

  6. As I said in a previous comment, I love this. I'm not at the point where I know I'll consistently work out at home BUT, I'm paying for a membership I'm barely using so I really should consider something else. I like my gyms classes though. I think I'm just in a funk because of the cold weather. But, I have a spin bike at home so I should be doing that daily, and there are a million videos on YouTube, etc.

    I signed up with a new trainer a few weeks ago... I hate it. It's not what I'm used to with a trainer and I'm just not impressed and have no intention of continuing.


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