Counter-Intuitive Fitness

A lot of what we now know to be true about fitness and weight loss appears at first counter-intuitive:

  • To lose fat, eat more of it.
  • To look slimmer, gain muscle weight.
  • To feel more awake, exhaust yourself with a workout.

And here’s one more: to exercise more frequently, cancel your gym membership.

(At least, I’m hoping that’s the case. Ask me in a month whether my pants still button.)

I’ve belonged to a gym in New York City for almost nine years — first New York Sports Club, then the 92 St. Y, then back to NYSC where they amazingly grandfathered me back in at the same cheap rate I was paying in 2008 following the Lehman Brothers crash. Thanks, subprime mortgage crisis!

And during each of those years, I used the gym differently. As an unhealthy college grad, I’d plug into the elliptical for 20 minutes then call it a day. During my four marathon training cycles, I’d churn out treadmill workouts then recover with a yoga class. In the months before our wedding, I’d sweat my way through two Body Pump classes a week, toning my arms primarily so I could dance to Shout and look good doing it. #priorities

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But recently, I’ve found it harder and harder to make it to the gym. If I had a personal trainer, I’m sure she’d tell me there’s always an excuse, but I swear my reasons are legit: I started a job with significantly longer hours, I uncovered my bike after a winter in storage, I moved to a building with an in-house fitness room and I got a dog who’s not so good at the rowing machine. Why race to a 7 p.m. pilates class in Manhattan when I can be at home snuggling this gorgeous face in Queens? I rest my case.

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This is my boating hat.

In fact, not only was I paying a monthly membership for a gym I wasn’t going to, I found that knowing I wasn’t getting my money’s worth at NYSC was actually discouraging me from taking advantage of other workout opportunities, too. Why go to a friend’s $25 barre class if I am already paying for NYSC? Why buy a climbing session if I am already paying for NYSC? Why cough up $40 for a 5K race entry if am already paying for NYSC?

So I did something in April that may appear counter-intuitive: I walked into NYSC, took a final Body Pump class, and canceled my gym membership once and for all.

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Goodbye forever, Dan, my favorite Body Pump instructor. 😦

And then I signed up for a $10 yoga class at my apartment building next week, because the burden had been lifted!

So who knows if quitting my gym will help me stop turning down other classes and increase my fitness levels, but it’s worth a try, even if it seems counter-intuitive. Because, hey, some counter-intuitive things really do work: like how giant dogs actually thrive in a tiny apartment. I swear.

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I’m not big. You’re big.

What surprising things have you done in the name of fitness?

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