6 Reasons I (Finally) Joined a Gym

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Running is my thing. For seven years now, it has been all I know to do when I open my eyes in the morning and, on some occasions, before I go to bed. And so, I feel as though after the other night’s rant about how bootcamp kicked my butt and wah wah wah, I need to follow up and offer a bit of clarification. It’s not that I really hated the class. It’s that I simply missed the run.

I don’t know if it was the move to Philadelphia or just the weight of seven years of doing anything. But suddenly, running got hard. To return to a place where I can be meditative on my runs, as I typically am, it seems I may need a bit of variety in my life. Running five to seven days a week can be challenging — physically and mentally — for anyone. But the last thing any runner wants to feel is that their routine has become just that — something you do because you have to, not because you want to.

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I want to run. Right now, at this point in my life, I just don’t want to run every day. I’m still struggling with this concept.

So, upon my move to Philadelphia, I joined a gym. If, like me, you’ve hesitated, here’s the six reasons I decided to pull the trigger. There’s no reason you need to, but if you’ve been looking for that push to (or not to!), then here’s what I’ve got.

1. Convenience. Sweat Fitness must be a Philly thing or something. There are a ton of them in the area and, best of all, there’s one directly across the street from my office. (No, really, I can see it from where I sit.) So, I figured with the office discount I got — two months free to start, two months free to end, unlimited classes everywhere in between — why not?

2. The spice of life, or something like that. Like I mentioned, I’ve been craving a bit of variety in my life. I love my daily runs. And as much as I’m starting to really enjoy some of my new Philly morning routes, it’s not Central Park. (Keep in mind, I’m thrilled to not have to jog that smelly, traffic-ridden mile up to Central Park anymore too. It goes both ways in terms of the ups and the downs.)

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Still, I haven’t found my motivation quite yet to enthusiastically hop out of bed each morning as I did back up north. Maybe that will come with time. And if it doesn’t, at least I have backup now.

3. Safety. I know that Philadelphia probably isn’t any more or less sketchy than the streets of New York. It’s really about familiarity. The bottom line is that I lived and run in New York for five years. Here, I’m only just getting to know the streets. Noah was part of this decision too; as he put it, he’s fine with me running along the Schuylkill during the summer when the mornings are bright and sunny, but less so during the winter when I’ll likely be running at sunrise. Now, I have options, even if that option includes the dreadmill.

4. Physical benefits. I’m not gonna go into this one too deeply because, at the end of the day, I’m not a personal trainer. But word on the street is that cross-training is pretty good for your body. I did it for the longest time at home from my living room floor. Again though, this is about options. Now, I can turn on a Jillian Michaels or Tara Stiles workout; or, I can use the machines at the gym; or, I can join a 45 to 60-minute class across the street from my office. With this many choices, I literally have no excuses not to work out. Game on.

5. FOMO. One of the reasons I was so excited about the company I joined: there’s a really great sense of team camaraderie. An awesome example of this is that the ladies hit the gym together, and having moved to this city with no (re: zero) friends, I figured this would be a great way to insert myself into the group (in a way that doesn’t involve the words “happy,” “hour” or “PBR,” though there’s plenty of that too). Philly might be a culture of drinkers, but each Wednesday, you can find a handful of us at the bar barre.

6. Finances. During the first month I moved, I went to a few yoga classes and tried to figure out the fitness landscape. And while it’s not nearly as expensive or exclusive as Manhattan, it still ads up. A yoga class ranges from $7 to $15. My monthly membership at the gym (once I get finish up my first two free months) is $35. The classes aren’t quite as good, but you do the math. Plus, for someone who has spent the last five years working out in cramped apartments with nothing but an iPad and a yoga mat, I’m not exactly picky.

Any other former gym-haters out there? What motivated you to take the plunge?

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