I have a love-hate relationship with gyms. I first started going to gyms back in 2014 but these past few years has not always been smooth-sailing. There were times when I dreaded gymming and often avoided it by giving myself excuses such as â€śthe gym is too crowdedâ€ť, â€śaiya, it is too late to go to the gym nowâ€ť, â€śI had a long school day today so it is okay to give myself a breakâ€ť, etc. Other times (especially after my new yearâ€™s resolution pledge), I was somehow really motivated and eager to get my heart pumping by running on the treadmill and/or by utilizing the gym equipment available.Â
Upon graduation and after I landed my first job, I decided to commit to this lifestyle since I now have the financial means to support it.
Why Gymming (And the Upsides of it)For someone bad at sports (i.e. I was usually the one avoiding whatever object that was coming my way â€“ frisbee, basketball, soccer ball, etc.), my best bet had to be gymming to keep myself fit. I enjoy the feeling of being strong and it felt more satisfying when I saw how my body and health started to change (albeit slowly) for the better (e.g. toner body, better stamina).Â I like how the gym provides me with a wide array of equipment that you can use to train different parts of your body and target specific groups of muscles (and that is also why you might have heard of â€śleg dayâ€ť, â€śab dayâ€ť, etc.).Â
There is also more flexibility in your gym schedule since most sports usually require at least two people to start a game (not talking about e-sports) and gymming is more of an â€śindividualâ€ť activity.
The Downsides of GymmingTiming is crucial. In the search for a gym that was to my liking, I first visited ActiveSg gyms (local, government-subsidized gyms) as it costs only SGD2.50 per entry. It is a steal considering how the gyms are conveniently located throughout Singapore and that they are well-equipped and well-maintained. However, the downside was that for a working professional like me, the ActiveSg gyms are always so crowded in the evenings after work hours. Weekends were slightly better since I went in the mornings (about 9AM/10AM) but I was still fairly uncomfortable gymming in a crowded space.Â It was also an intimidating and annoying experience, especially during the â€ścursedâ€ť hours.Â When I was fortunate enough to use the machines during peak periods, I felt pressured to end my session earlier as I could sense strangersâ€™ eyes staring at me while I workout (felt as though my life was going to be in danger). At the other end, while I was waiting for my turn (together with many others), it was tiring to always be on a watch-out (like a predator) and it was also frustrating to see someone getting the â€śpreyâ€ť even though I was waiting in line for a longer time.Â
After having this regime for a while, there are times when I would be riddled with guilt when I fail to make it to the gym (e.g. my plans have changed, muscle strains). It would affect me for the rest of my day as I would blame myself for â€śnot doing enoughâ€ť.
Tips on Getting Started and SustainingReady for commitment? Here are some of my tips on starting.
- Invest in a gym that is slightly more expensive (if you have the means) â€“ not just to avoid â€ścompetitionsâ€ť but also to feel more driven to gym (since you have already paid for it and more sessions in a month meant that the cost per session is lesser). Some gyms offer free trials so it is worth exploring the place and knowing what they offer before signing up. For me, after leaving the ActiveSg gyms, I found a boutique gym that was centrally located and which monthly membership costs SGD89 (which meant it was about SGD7.40 per session if I went 3 times a week) â€“ that was reasonable to me.
- Location, location, location. Choose a gym that is convenient for you to head to after school or work/before heading home because the last thing you would want after a dayâ€™s work is to spend time travelling to
a land far, far awaysomewhere that is far enough to discourage you from gymming.
- Start small. When I first started going to the gym, I spent about 20 minutes on the treadmill for each session and left. Even on the treadmill, I began with 6km/hour and gradually increased my speed once I got used to running after several sessions. Once I was comfortable with cardio, I moved on to adding strength training into my exercise routine. There are tons of free videos on YouTube that you can utilize (e.g. 10 minutes arm/ab/thigh/booty workout) if you prefer to workout alone (like me). But of course, hiring a personal trainer is more effective (and it comes with a hefty price tag too) since they know what kinds of targeted exercises you need.
- Attend fitness classes. If you are someone who needs a buddy/a group to exercise with or if you need some motivation to get started, consider going for fitness classes such as yoga, crossfit, piloxing, etc. The larger fitness chains usually offer such classes (at an additional cost) and the classes are usually held within the gym so you can choose to continue exercising/stretching afterwards.
- Set a fixed schedule because it is easier to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle if you make it a habit.
- Track your fitness progress â€“ seeing how your body changes (positive changes) motivates you to stick to this lifestyle (because you do not want your efforts to go into waste). Ways you can do so include taking photos of your before and after transformation, taking body measurements, or just simply wearing the same pants/tops.