Most of my recent posts have been about eating habits and food. In this post, I want to talk about exercising.
One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Woody Allen, goes something like this: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” It seems like a stretch to give that much importance to “just showing up,” but, I’ve been a teacher for too long, and been at this “fitness thing” for too long, not to realize that there’s a lot of truth here.
Just show up. Go to class, keep your appointments, go to work, go to the gym. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve made plans to go to the gym the next morning, for weightlifting, for cardio, for swimming, etc., only to get out of bed and feel that I just didn’t want to do it. And, to be honest, sometimes I decided to change my plans and not go. But more often than not, I’d go about my morning routine, and, an hour or so after rising, though my “heart may not have been in it,” I’d get myself and my stuff together, and GO. While traveling to the gym, I’d often still feel that I didn’t really want to exercise.
But then a strange thing would happen. I’d park, get out of the car, get my bag, and enter the building. At some point in the doing of that, something would happen inside of me, and the “just do it” reflex would take over. I’d go in, get changed, and lift, do cardio, or swim.
It took getting there to “get me in gear” to do the workout. And often, these workouts would be ones that I felt really good about afterward!
Backing up a bit, it’s important to distinguish between your body sending you a message that you need to take an unscheduled day off for rest, and a mere “blah” morning, where you’re just slow getting started for the day. In fact, it’s very important that you pay attention to how you’re feeling physically, and to take an unscheduled day off now and then. Your body needs time to rest, repair, and build itself, and its schedule doesn’t necessarily align with whatever plan you may be following (and that’s one reason why I like to keep a lot of flexibility in my routine).
Getting back to the point of today’s post—sometimes the hardest part of getting your workout done is simply getting yourself to the place where you’re going to do it.
From time to time I’m asked about exercise equipment for the home. Treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, weightlifting apparatuses, etc. are all available for home use. My response to such inquiries? Exercise equipment for the home often becomes a clothes rack. I’m sure this isn’t true for everybody, but in my experience, home exercise equipment is just not used very much. Because the exercises can be done at any time, they’re never done. The convenience of owning the equipment, which we think will help us to exercise more regularly, ends up enabling our tendency to procrastinate. Furthermore, you have to find space somewhere in your home to house the equipment, and you have to maintain it (which means paying for repairs if and when that’s necessary).
For me, weighing the costs/benefits of a gym membership versus having equipment at home, leads me to the conclusion that the gym membership is worth every penny. The gym maintains the equipment, there is a greater variety of exercises available, I don’t have to find space in my home for equipment, and I have to get to the gym if I’m going to work out. If you’re paying for a gym membership, you’re more likely to use it. If you drive yourself to the gym, you’re more likely to work out. If you’re the type of person that enjoys exercising in a group, or even with just one workout partner, the gym provides ample space for that, as well.
Just show up; that might just be the hardest part of the workout.