How I Learned To Love Exercise--By Quitting The Gym

January 16, 2015 by Sara Alderman
shefinds | Style

I am not here to preach some gospel on why working out is “totally awesome!” In fact, I am the last person who would ever agree with that statement. It’s taken me years to go from avoiding exercise completely to finding something I actually don’t mind doing. So no, I don’t expect you to read this and instantly turn over a new leaf. It will take some time to get there, but hopefully this will help you speed up the process.

I didn’t start going to the gym until my freshman year of college. I refused to do much psychical activity during the first 18 years of life because, well, I was one of those people who could eat ice cream as an after school snack and still stay skinny. Being healthy and/or fit wasn’t even on my radar. That all changed over Thanksgiving break freshman year when someone passive aggressively told me I had gained weight. I immediately started hitting the gym three times a week when I got back to school and continued this routine for the rest of my college career. But truth be told, I still hated spending half an hour on the elliptical and had to force myself to do it. I would only go when a show I really liked was just starting (Real Housewives and Friends, obvs), so it could keep me entertained for a full 30-60 minutes. Oh, and I’d watch with subtitles so I could listen to music at the same time. Let’s just say I needed some serious distraction from the fact that I was moving my legs faster than a snail’s pace.

Once I graduated and moved to NYC, I got a gym membership not out of want, but out of necessity. Working out became so routine for me that I felt like it had to stay that way post-grad. Man, was I in for a rude awakening. I quickly discovered that once you start working, it’s very, very hard to motivate yourself to do something you don’t enjoy before or after a long day at the office. I think I’ve been to my gym a grand total of 12 times in the one year since joining. I am essentially paying an embarrassing amount of money to carry around a key chain.

I heard here and there about this new spin studio with classes that were like a dance party. But it wasn’t until my friend personally recommended SoulCycle to me that I knew it was time to try it. We took a similar class at a different studio (dark room, loud music, fast-paced), and I actually didn’t hate it. She said if I thought that was okay then Soul would be… fun (gasp!). So, I decided to take the plunge.

My first class was a complete blur. I did not know what was going on (am I at Ultra??) or how people could be in sync with music while doing push-ups on a bike. It definitely took a few classes for me to fully understand the culture of SoulCycle, but I did like the music and motivational component immediately. So I kept going back. Mostly with friends on weekends as a social thing because there was some sort of meal involved afterwards. Then during my fifth class it all clicked. Not only was every single song that came on better than the next, but the instructor made me forget I was even working out to begin with. It just felt like I was riding a bike while listening to good music. The push ups and other moves didn’t seem so difficult anymore because they were so natural with the beat, like I was supposed to be doing it. That’s when I knew this was my preferred form of exercise. Now, I am one of “those people.”

So, my unsolicited advice? If you want to hate working out a little less, do not get a gym membership. Try a different type of class once a week over three months and find the one where you forget you’re even lifting a muscle to begin with. Some of the most fit celebs do this. Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss are both devotees of ModelFIT, while Gwyneth Paltrow swears by the Tracy Anderson method. People ask me all the time “Isn’t SoulCycle like, soooo expensive?” or “How can you afford that??” Yes, $34 is not an ideal amount to pay every time I want to work out, but at least I am getting my money’s worth, which is more than I can say for the unused $100 keychain sitting at the bottom of my bag.

Here are some classes to get you started:



Sara Alderman has covered topics from fashion to beauty and beyond.

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