Finding a gym and making time

[This post is one in a series about my fitness journey. Consider starting at the beginning.]

For the past 18 years I’ve worked out at the gym closest to my house 5 days a week at around 5:30a in the morning. Why? Because if the gym isn’t convenient I won’t go and consistency is vital for results.

Finding a gym

The first gym I ever joined was chosen solely because it was convenient. I was working at IBM in Austin and living in an apartment just 1.5 miles away. There was a 24 Hour Fitness between the two so that’s the one I choose. Having never used a gym before and having no clue how one should judge them, that was the only criteria I had to go by.

Indeed that’s been almost my sole criteria when looking for a gym wherever I’ve moved: it has to be convenient. I don’t care if this is close to my work or close to home, but I know me and if it isn’t convenient I won’t make it there. This isn’t surprising because we humans are lazy and it doesn’t take much friction to find excuses to not go workout.

Another important thing about me is that I hate crowds of people. I doubly hate showing my ignorance in front of people. So fitness-n00b me with zero experience with any of the machines or how to use any of the free weights wanted to be there at the least crowded time. I even remember asking the person who signed me up at the 24 Hour Fitness what was their slowest time of the day. He said it was at when they opened at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Making time

I don’t remember being a morning person growing up, but it’s interesting what motivates people. Wanting to look better but not look like an idiot in front of others while doing it was enough for me as I began working out every morning around 6a before getting to work at 7:30a. That has continued pretty consistently for the past 18 years.

Back from the gym – August 2018

Every morning I get up around 5a to go work out at the gym, come home, get cleaned up, spend time with Daniel, and go into work. I’ve tried working out after work but I’ve discovered that it’s never convenient — I’m either too brain-dead from the office or I have evening plans that I’d rather do instead.

Waking up at 5a isn’t for everyone, my friends would say that it isn’t for anyone, but finding some time that consistently works for your schedule is paramount to making sure you actually get there day in and day out. At first whatever routine you start is going to be hard. It doesn’t become easy until it becomes a habit integrated into your life. Even then there will be days that it slips by, either because you’re exhausted or you’re sick or you’re depressed or whatever, but it’s important that those are momentary, transient misses.

Note that while I get up at 5a I also go to bed early, around 10p. You can’t make something from nothing — the hour of my day that I spend at the gym has to come at the expense of something else. When I started going to the gym I essentially gave up TV and video games. Carving out an hour of a day every day to get to the gym is going to be the hardest part of an exercise routine for most people.

The biggest advice I have for people wanting to get started working out is to look at how you spend your time every day and figure out where that hour is going to come from. Maybe that’s cutting out an hour of TV, maybe that’s spending an hour less with friends, maybe that’s getting an hour less of sleep per night. Wherever that time comes from in your life, you won’t be successful until you find it and consciously exchange it for workout time.

Next post: Machines, dumbbells, and barbells oh my!

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

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