Convenience will dictate best option

For those living in the countryside, scarcity may dictate the best gym choice. For those of us living that city life, you may be in the position where you need to make a choice. This is the logic that my girlfriend and my decision – you may find it informs yours too. This is with the understanding that one of you likes going to the gym, while the other is a little bit reluctant.

Paramount is convenience above equipment or space or peak time demand. This is under the pretext you or your partner are finding it difficult to leave the comforts of home, especially during the week and after work. When short of motivation, a close, convenient trip to the gym will increase the chances of attendance and reduce the excuses. 

If it isn’t far, you can be there and back within an hour and that reduces the intimidation of the whole event. The greatest part of the battle is getting started to begin with, getting dressed and getting out the door. In building regular attendance or in the early stages of regular attendance it’s actually ok to arrive and go through the motions as long as you’ve successfully turned up. Turning up is more than half the battle. Compare this to the alternative; you can’t even pretend to go through the motions, or build up to real exertions, if you’ve stayed on the bed all evening playing on your phone or laptop.

What do we do when we still aren’t making it for our target sessions per week? This is a difficulty I’m still having as our target is four sessions a week and we’re probably only making it to 3 or less. I would fall back on the knowledge that three sessions, while below target, is a vast improvement over zero. One session is a huge improvement over zero. Be patient, keep pushing for exercise sessions and lead by example. If your efforts to go together aren’t working, go alone and enjoy yourself, just make sure you are back quickly to avoid creating the impression that it is a major, time consuming event.

One pushup, one squat or one sit up per day is a huge improvement over a sedentary lifestyle and that improvement is purely mental.

You can always apply a little carrot and stick methodology to the motivation problem. For us, buying summer watermelon on the walk home is the carrot that works well. I don’t currently have a stick except to nag a little. Results will yield higher quality intrinsic motivation to exercise.

There is also the option to stay home and follow a video or create some other home workout. This can be a good solution as long as you stay focused and within the time limit. Eventually you may find that there is no substitute for the equipment and space at the gym. If home workouts are your cup of tea, do you need a gym membership at all? It’s certainly worth experimenting. You can have some basic equipment at home to help you.

For us, the gym helps frame us in the exercising mood and the equipment offers enough challenge and variation to make it worthwhile. People often split gym workouts into two simplified groups – cardio and weights. For a beginner coming from a sedentary lifestyle, the cardio equipment will offer up enough resistance and variation to fulfill both strength and endurance goals initially.

That’s why the convenient option will raise your weekly attendance and help you build habits. What is the alternative? A quality gym that is too difficult to attend? A cheaper gym that you never use each month? Value for money can’t be underestimated and having a gym that is usable will make it easier to get the hours in.

Just 15 minutes.

20220712- Going to the gym for the benefit of your partner for just short periods.

We made it to the gym today for just 15 minutes, and I want to stress the success of that short period in building a regular routine for someone who may not feel that any exercise comes naturally to them.

We had agreed to aim for 20 minute sessions, but with our schedule forcing attendance just before the peak 6 o’clock period and the high summer temperatures we ducked out after just 15.

Does it matter? At this early stage I would argue it is more important to be happy and make an early exit than to slog yourself through something that might only be fun for one of you. Take it as a success and leave while you’re both still happy.

This may only be possible if you attend a gym close to home. Our gym is only 10 minutes by foot, and that accessibility negates the need to push for long sessions that may work to discourage you. You may feel obliged to attend for long periods if you’re making a special lengthy commute to your gym, and I would advise against that.

If you only make it to the gym for 15*4 that’s only 1 hour a week and short of the NHS’s recommended 150 minutes for moderate exercise.

The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for 19-64 years olds. At this early stage of couples gym attendance, we can’t expect to make up the time by doing more intense work as that differentiation of effort levels doesn’t exist yet. We are still building up conditioning for slow and steady effort and 15 or 20 minutes can seem like a lot to someone coming from a sedentary lifestyle.

15 or 20 minutes gym sessions are less intimidating and offer the chance to escape before any strong negative feelings or P.E. flashbacks begin to set in.

It is also so important to attend together, as this will further reduce the intimidation of the gym environment. I would always recommend starting on the available cardio equipment and using this time to learn the layout of the gym. In addition, attend at night means the windows can be used as mirrors and offer the chance to visually scout out the rest of the gym.

I think we can only be content that we made it to the gym and continue to work on consistency in the hope of reaching higher attendance later on.

As we develop, you and your partner can agree to push the sessions out by 5 minutes at a time, or push individual sessions longer when we feel good and the gym is comfortable and uncrowded. These are often weekend sessions, but really you might just feel lucky at any time. Today, the session happened pre-dinner at around 1730hrs. 

Equally as important as finding times to extend is cutting short when appropriate. For us, that was today too.

Stick to your agreed goals and take the opportunities you can. Be flexible based on how both of you are feeling and don’t take a harsh or strict approach when it should be a fun together activity, not punishment.

Welcome to condition mission.

It seems like you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you’re ready to get fit together. Or one of you has decided the other should get fit. Maybe only one of you is enthusiastic, but you both recognise the benefits of getting yourself in condition.