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“The five totally rational reasons I told myself I could skip gym today… and why I still went”.

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We’ve all been there: standing at the crossroads of fitness ambition and the warm embrace of your onesie and the couch. Making the right choices daily allows time to hit your exercise goals, live a healthy life, become a better version of yourself and because of this, it affords you time to also sit on the coach and enjoy your milo.

Going to the gym is good for us, with the health, fitness and wellness benefits that come with it, but that doesn’t mean we’re not prone to finding reasons not to work out.

Trevor Lagerwey, Head of Athletic Training at Virgin Active shares five hilarious reasons we tell ourselves we can skip gym – but how to get there anyway: 

  1. The perpetual quest for parking

Have you ever driven around the gym parking lot so many times you felt like you were in a scene from “Fast and Furious”? Finding a parking spot at the gym can sometimes feel like its own workout. At peak, the 15 minutes of hunting for that elusive spot might have you saying, “forget it, I’ve burned enough calories driving in circles”.

Why still go? Think about that ‘fast and furious’ circling as the ramp up to your inevitable endorphin rush when the body’s natural feel-good chemicals kick in. “During winter, when daylight is scarce and our moods start to dip, nothing beats the high of that endorphin-buzz as the ultimate mood-lifter,” says Trevor. “Want to level up your day? Work a little harder by not looking for that elusive front door spot, park further away, and walking that little bit further.”

  1. The lure of the luscious lounge pants

Picture it… you’re wrapping up at the office and realise that as soon as you get home you can change into that trusted pair of sweatpants and the overwhelming sense of comfort and joy that they bring. It’s like those pants have a gravitational pull stronger than any treadmill. The thought of trading them for restrictive workout gear is enough to make you curl up on the couch with a tub of ice cream instead. Admit it, we all have those sweatpants.

Why still go? There’s something to be said for pushing through and giving your body what it deserves. Part of this – for some – lies in the sense of that ‘give yourself a high five’ emotion you feel when lacing up your sneakers when everyone else is slipping into their safe and cozy sweatpants. “Not only do you prove to yourself that winter’s chill has nothing on your willpower and reason for training, but you’re also left with an even stronger moment of reward and indulgence when you get home post-training and set yourself up for that cozy night in,” says Trevor.

  1. The social media spectacle

It’s 2024 and the era of gym selfies, content creators, motivational quotes, and endless check-ins that remain a huge part of gym culture. The gym is a social media jungle, and sometimes it’s a little overwhelming to feel you need to contribute to the #FitnessGoals trend when you’d rather be posting a night out, your pet, or the tiramisu you made from scratch – not every bench press and bead of sweat.

Why still go? Some refer to it as the social snowball effect – especially powerful in winter.

We’re inherently social creatures and there is power in the camaraderie of shared experiences, finding someone with the same fitness goals and reasons as yours, and the high-paced-high of group workouts. “Whether for or against social media, sharing the experience with others not only builds a sense of community, but you might also find others on the same journey as you,” maintains Trevor.  

  1. The guaranteed awkward encounter

Gyms are like magnets for awkward encounters. From increasing the weight setting on your machine once you’re done so the next person won’t judge you, accidentally taking someone else’s space, or bumping into the coworker you barely know in the throes of changing while you try avoiding too much eye-contact – they’re bound to happen. For some, skipping gym is one way to dodge these cringe-worthy moments, or to avoid the dreaded, “So, how much do you bench?” question.

Why still go? This one’s a toughie – because in any setting where people get sweaty by choice, awkward encounters prevail. But who says you must engage? A slight nod, bee-line dash to the wights area, or even pointing to headphones and mouthing ‘hope you’re well’ is all it takes to keep your workout free of apologies or boring banter.

  1. The equipment enigma

While easy for some, for others they look like medieval torture devices that you need a degree to decipher. They fuel the desire skip the fear altogether and rather master the art of lifting your remote control. It’s essentially a bicep curl, right?

So why go? “Because everyone starts somewhere, and our key goal is to ensure that South African’s remember that our clubs are for everybody, and every body. Our team members and our personal trainers are ready to guide you, or you could just ask an eager-to-assist fellow gymmer. It takes just one or two sessions to find your rhythm and for the gymtimidation to subside, as you start to truly work on your reason for exercising,” says Trevor.

We knowgoing to the gym is important for maintaining health and fitness goals, but the fact of the matter remains – we all have an arsenal of reasons (hilarious or otherwise) that we come up with to *not* exercise and avoid that much needed training session.  The next time you find yourself making excuses, remember – you’re not alone. While we might all relate to the reasons not to train, we all have reasons that fuel our wellness and fitness journeys – unique to each one of us. So, grab your gear, channel your inner cozy contrarian, and make winter your new favourite workout season,” concludes Trevor.

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