I love Sundays. I love being able to sleep in, focus almost exclusively on my interests, and I most especially love the opportunity to reflect on where I see my life’s journey going.
Now, waking up late this morning was definitely a pleasure. I normally wake up at about 4:45am every weekday (if you want some tips on how to do this your self, check out this post), but on the weekends I take a much more unstructured approach.
So there I am in my apartment, I have awoken to the beat of my own drum, and I get the feeling that I want to go to the gym to throw some weights around. That’s when I realize that I had recently froze my account at my local Planet Fitness. Kind of came as a surprise.
I have been going to that gym for five years, almost every single day. You’d think that I had taken some serious crazy pills to freeze my account. Well, as you will soon learn, I did it because I am not willing to take the crazy pills.
Let me explain. About two weeks ago I received an email saying that there would be a mask policy put into place as of August 1st. I shrugged my shoulders, and decided that I would deal with that policy when that day came. Now I am severally opposed to wearing masks at the gym, and so you have to know that this is a cancellable offense in my book.
When August 1st came around, I entered the gym, scanned my bar-code key-chain, and went on my way. That’s when the assistant manager, who I know very well (been going 5 years, you get to know people), came up to me and asked me if I had a mask.
“No,” I said.
“Well, Alixander, we have this new policy that requires you to wear a mask,” she said straining for breath through her fabric mask.
I knew where this was going, and so I simply asked her how long I have to wear the mask.
“You can take it off as soon as you are working out.”
I smiled a big, maskless smile and said, “Well, I am working out right now. Thanks for letting me know.” And I walked on my way.
Needless to say, I ended up getting chased down by the assistant manager and was told that if I didn’t follow policy of wearing the mask when I walked in and walked out of the gym that I would have my account suspended.
Step into my shoes just for a moment, and trust me when I say that I understand that she needs to do her job and enforce policy, but in order for me to enter and exit the gym with a mask on is like saying that I need to wear a condom before and after I have had sex.
I politely told her that I was going to finish my work out and that I was was going to place a freeze on my account. She explained to me that she didn’t want to see me stop my five year streak over something like this. Truthfully, I didn’t care. Who I was when I started at that Planet Fitness five years ago is a very different person than who I am today.
So fast forward to today, waking up to the fact that there will be no gym for the next 90 days. I had some serious questions going on in my head. The first of which was, what do I gain not having to go to a gym any more? The next was, how will my training be hampered without the gym’s equipment?
I contemplated that while I was working on making a new workout shirt for this next stage in my personal fitness journey. Rummaging through my old shirts, I found one of my favorites from a band I absolutely love (Crook and The Bluff) and cut it into my new gym shirt.
Making one of these gym shirts is pretty easy. Making all the muscle to fill it, that’s the hard part.
I followed the instructions from this website for the first one that I made. I make them a little bit different now, but you’ll get the gist of it.
After I was done with cutting up the shirt, an intimidating experience considering how much I love the shirt, I then went on to think deeply at my desk. And the best kind of thinking is done with paper and a writing utensil.
I realized pretty quickly that the biggest upside to not having a gym was that I would be able to work out when ever I wanted, where ever I wanted, and I wouldn’t have to pay to train. That seemed very exciting. Not having a gym meant that I’d be able to train outside in the open air instead of in gym air, or I’d be able to train at home instead of having to compete for gym space. This seemed like a huge upside to me.
The downside that immediately presented its self was that I would not have any gym equipment. This would mean that I would have to either get super creative about body weight workouts, or I would have to start investing money into gym equipment that would be taking up more space in my already small living situation. So the downside of not having a gym was that I would have to house my own equipment, or my workouts would become longer for less of a result.
What do I mean by, longer for less of a result? Well, I will use one example. The way that the human body is designed is to compete with the forces of gravity. All of the functions of the body are meant to compete with the never ending pull that the earth has on the mass of the human body. That means that I could easily do pushups and air-squats for almost indefinitely with enough training.
On the flipside, there is the problem of the pull exercises. As the body is primarily made to push away from the force of the earth, there are few instances where the pull muscles of the back are necessary. And except for things like pulling a rope, or climbing a tree, the back is severally limited when it comes to body weight exercises. So in order to over come that, equipment or props will become necessary.
After some time of contemplating the upsides and downsides to no gym, I got off my butt and headed out the door for Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park. In no time at all I had completely forgot all those upsides and downsides. As I went about the streets of my city, I found myself picking ripe apples, plums, grapes and pears while walking to the park. By the time I got there, I was basically on a sugar rush. It was time I got to training.
Using a concrete picnic table, I did the following workout:
- Alternating Step-ups: 20 each side
- Inclined Pushups: 20
- Seated Crunches: 20
- Air-squats: 30
- Lunges: 20 each side
- Speed-skaters: 20 each side
- Rotating Planks: 20 each side
- Lateral kicks: 20 each side
- Backward kicks: 20 each side
- Criss-cross kicks: 20 each side
Granted, this wasn’t the most strenuous workout. In fact, it was pretty freaking easy. But being in the shade of a bunch of huge cottonwood trees was incredible. I loved every minute of being able to breath the air around me and to feel the gentle breeze that came through the trees. Honestly, I loved the feeling.
Afterwards, I went for a run around the park. The park so happens to be a mile around and the pace I took was a pretty good one. Once I had finished the big loop, I headed on home. As I walked home listening to birds singing and watching squirrels dart up and down trees, I thought very seriously about what the next 90 days of my fitness adventure would be like. I wondered as I walked home how others had handled this change from gym life to no-gym life. I knew that I wasn’t the only person to let the gym go in the last couple of months. So now I turn the time over to you:
What have you done since you kicked the gym habit?