So this is an interesting one for you, when most people are joining the gym or hitting it more than ever to get that 'perfect' spring/summer body, I quit the gym. Coming from someone that once had a 'addiction' to the gym and working out, I find it ironic that I am writing such a thing. Let me preface this by saying, I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle through moving the body, fueling it with nutritious goodness and also stress management. But a few months ago I realized that the 'gym way' wasn't my way anymore and it didn't fit into my lifestyle the way it used to.
Flash back say ten years, I was the crazy girl at the gym on the treadmill running as fast as I possibly could. Pounding one foot after the other, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 7.0 with my music blaring in my ears. Not going to lie it was probably Britney Spears or Backstreet Boys I was listening to, but you know, it served its purpose. I'd run so fast to get my aggression and angst out. I had been through a lot, I was dealing with my father's unexpected death, a bad job, relationships, things that I couldn't really deal, or know how to deal with so I ran them out. You'd find me there five to six nights a week, after work. I wouldn't leave the treadmill until I had a clear mind.
As I relied more and more on this to be my crutch, like any addiction I became obsessed with when and how long I would get my fix, in this case to work out. I would justify in my head, okay if you can't go running tonight you can go running extra long and hard tomorrow. I had periods before say about 15 years ago when the same thing would happen. Something bad was happening and the only thing I knew how to control or what to control was running. I stopped running when I moved to Paris, back then the French didn't really have the whole running thing down. I went a few times in the Luxembourg Gardens and loved the choice of outfits - once I saw a man wearing a nice button down shirt and khakis! I stopped exercising, except of course the copious amounts of walking to enjoy the 'bonne vie' in Paris.
Now, flashback two years ago when I was diagnosed with MS, I had to accept the fact that my exercise would never be the same again. Let me tell you, that was a very hard pill to swallow. I had identified with running as part of me - a terrible thing to do. I'd count my logins at the gym with a sense of pride.
Prior to my diagnosis, I was working out a lot, weight classes, yoga, some running and swimming and up until about 6 months ago, I was trying to go at it 4 times a week - the running had to stop, instead I swam, did Barre classes and yoga. Still, everything made me feel terrible after. I can will myself to do anything, it was just after the fact. I wish I hadn't gone. I'd walk past people pounding on the treadmill and remember, oh, that used to be me, gosh, ugh, that used to be me. I was singing a different tone. I no longer felt like I was running from anything.
So parting with the gym is hard, because it is the last bit of my 'old' self that I was clinging onto. It was when my body felt like it could do anything - that I could push it harder, make it stronger and go for this 'ideal' that was definitely askew in my head. I toyed with quitting because the monthly rates were high and I couldn't use it like I used to. Living in New York I am lucky to be able to walk everywhere (it's good except when its bad!), take a Citibike for a ride which I do quite often, take the dog for a walk or go to yoga. Speaking of - yoga has always been there. I have been practicing for almost ten years. Since leaving my fancy gym (oh, how I will miss those peppermint towels) I go to a local studio around my apartment. It is zen, relaxed and peaceful, just like the current state in my life and for that I am thankful. Namaste.
Image via Vogue