Walking into a Gym is One Thing; Staying There is Quite Another

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Walking into a Gym is One Thing; Staying There is Quite Another

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A while ago, I did a blog about how difficult it is to walk into a gym for the first time. For me, it was a traumatic experience. Tipping the scale at over 250 pounds, I was self-conscious, ready to leave after 10 minutes on the treadmill and feeling totally out of place. (Excerpts of that previous blog are at the end of this blog.)

There are two aspects to starting an exercise program: walking in and – even more important – staying. The best example of a gym commitment versus a non-commitment is the month of January. At my gym, from January 2nd to the end of the month, every piece of equipment is in use. New Year’s resolutions bring exercise hopefuls out by the hundreds. Some are alone; some are with friends.

Long-time gym regulars observe the masses of new members with bemusement. They have witnessed how gym attendance often wanes by February 1st. Not to suggest that gym regulars are smug and not supportive. They will certainly show a newbie how to work the elliptical. But they also know that their favorite treadmill located right in front of the Discovery Channel television will likely be available again as exercise resolutions fall by the wayside.

Of course all members of a gym (even the long timers) walked in for the first time vowing to make a healthful change in their life. Many succeed; others get “too busy” or “can’t find the time” to become regulars.

How sad ….

No matter what your reason for entering a gym for the first time, it is an important and valid reason. If you are there to become healthier, lose weight, build self-esteem, work on a PT program or just kill some time – it’s all good. Going to a gym is good on every level.

Your reason for leaving a gym after a month or two is bad on every level. Unless your decision is based on the quality and management of the gym itself, chances are you are caving for all the wrong reasons. Sorry but “no time” and “too busy” or “too far away” are not valid excuses to give up on the gym and choose to become a couch potato.

We all know that working out is good for us. We all know that finding time and motivation to work out is hard for most of us. In many ways, it’s the same kind of inner conflict we dieters face when we are deciding whether we want to order plain fruit for dessert or the double chocolate lava cake.

Going to the gym or choosing the right dessert are part of a bigger picture, which is a commitment to yourself. Exercise and food are about putting yourself first; doing what’s right for you.

Don’t cave on that chocolate lava cake – and don’t cave on the gym.  Your mind and body will thank you.

Previous blog: Walking into a Gym the First Time

For many, “Exercise” is an ugly word. An even uglier work is “Gym” or “Health Club” (perceived havens for buff young adults in spandex).

We all know what the experts have to say about exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic website: “Exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, puts the spark back into your sex life and it can be fun.”

There you have it; all the reasons to cast off that television remote and get moving. Are you inspired and ready to start an exercise regimen? Probably not. We all know that exercise is good for us. We might even plan to start exercising “tomorrow.” But there’s a huge chasm between what we know we should do and actually doing it.

Let’s consider walking into that gym/health club…

  • It’s always easier to go with a friend, but if no one wants to go with you, screw up your courage and go by yourself. Walking in the door the first time is always the hardest.
  • Choose your gym carefully. Of course price and location are important. But also scope out the place as far as other users. There’s no question that some gyms specialize more in bodybuilding and those gorgeous people in spandex. If you look in the door and see ordinary folks (even other seniors), that may be the place for you.
  • Do you want a class? Some gyms offer personal trainers and classes all day. Others are more anonymous; you go in and use the equipment on your own.
  • Get help. Always have someone from the gym staff help you learn the equipment and how to use it.
  • Choose your gym time. For senior, mid mornings or mid afternoons are usually good. Early AM, noontime and evenings tend to be business people. Exercising around 9:00 to 11:00 or 1:00 to 3:00 may have other seniors and increased camaraderie. Test different times, see who your fellow gymnasts are.
  • Don’t be put off by your fellow exercisers. You will find all sizes and shapes.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear casual, loose clothes. And wear the right kind of sneakers.
  • Take it slow at first; 15 minutes to a half hour is a good start. You can expand your time as you get into the swing of exercise.
  • Women – do not carry your purse around as you exercise. It makes you look like a doofus. Either lock it in your car or a gym locker.
  • You may want to bring ear phones (most gyms have televisions).
  • Set yourself on a schedule to go the gym a certain number of times during the week.


Exercise is a habit – a healthy habit. You may not like exercise, but you will love what it does for you.












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