28 Jul The Gym Myth: 3 Reasons Traditional Gyms Don’t Work
There are two types of gym members. The first exercises 3–6 times a week, does 30–45 minutes of cardio, and maybe circuits through some stretches or weight machines before heading home.
This probably isn’t you.
The second, much more common gym member doesn’t even step inside the door. At different points in our lives, we’ve all yo-yoed between both extremes, diligently following our New Year’s resolutions for a while and then cursing our lack of motivation month after month.
There’s a reason why most of us eventually stop going to the gym. It has nothing do with our willpower and it defies conventional wisdom. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get back in shape, or increase your energy, going to the gym does not help. Here’s why.
#1 Exercise Machines Are Boring Torture Devices
Imagine going to the gym to hit the treadmill again. After standing around waiting for the newest machine on the floor to open up, you box yourself between those handrails and start going nowhere fast. When it feels like you’ve been pounding the polyurethane for an hour, you check the clock. To your sweaty horror, it’s been mere minutes, you’re only 10% done, and you’ve burned a whopping 25 calories.
It probably won’t surprise you that the treadmill was created to punish prisoners. In the 1800s, inmates toiled on group treadmills for eight hours a day. These treadmills were designed to power mills and to be punishingly monotonous, not healthful or recreational. In fact, their repetitive motion has a history of promoting injury and burnout, not weight loss.
Common sense and behavioral science dictate that there needs to be an internal reward to make you repeat a task. This means your workout has to feel good if you want to make it a lifestyle change. Forming habits takes place over approximately two months. That’s a long time to dislike what you’re doing and still stay dedicated. If you want to stick to your fitness plan, you have to find a program that’s fun. Getting healthy should be enjoyable!
#2 Self-Managed Workouts Are Tedious and Ineffective
Dragging yourself to the gym and getting through the exercises can feel like hard work. Every week, it gets a bit easier and you feel proud of your commitment. But you haven’t lost a single ounce. What gives?
When you’re managing your own fitness rather than working with a trainer, it’s difficult to increase the intensity and hold yourself accountable. Your body quickly gets used to your fitness routine and becomes more efficient at performing those activities, meaning you burn fewer calories over time. It’s frustrating and disappointing when you invest the time, effort, and money in a gym membership, but the benefits are short-lived or nonexistent.
Also, gym-goers tend to focus either on cardio or on weight training a specific muscle group each session. Sustaining a tough, whole-body workout is the only way to decrease body fat, increase muscle mass, and strengthen bone density. The simple truth is, without a trainer to break you out of your rut, you likely won’t force yourself to work out hard enough to really boost your metabolism and transform your body quickly.
#3 Solo Workouts Are a Setup for Failure
As highly social animals, there’s almost nothing more rewarding than making friends. All gyms provide are machinery and the false promise that you can reach your health and wellness goals on your own. But humans need company and positive reinforcement from each other. If you just go to the gym alone, you’re missing out on the necessary encouragement and support.
Exercising effectively is exhausting! Your heart pounds, your lungs burn, your muscles ache, and you constantly consider giving up. Then you glance across the floor or field and see your peers, red-faced and dripping sweat. All of a sudden, their commitment to your shared goal energizes you. You have a responsibility to yourself and everyone around you to follow through. There’s also a sense of healthy competition. If they can do it, you can too. Breaking through that wall together is empowering and fun.
So What Should You Do to Improve Your Fitness?
You definitely don’t want to keep paying a fee to not go to the gym. Or continue dragging yourself there for the same boring, unsuccessful routine. Instead, opt for whole-body workouts that change daily.
Here’s the recipe for exercise success:
- Ditch the machines. Harness the power and resistance of your own body to get fit—no more treadmills!
- Participate in exercise groups driven by expert trainers who push you beyond your fitness comfort zone.
- Join a fitness community to keep you feeling inspired and excited to come back.
It’s all about maintaining accountability, increasing intensity, and having fun!