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Anti-Gym

5 years ago by

Anti-Gym

I was once a gym fanatic. I would go to the gym religiously, at least five days a week.


Then I moved to New York and I never signed up for a gym membership again. I tried out a few, but finally settled on the most incredible yoga studio in the West Village (it’s called Modo — and I’m obsessed!!). But why the trade? Well, there are a couple of reasons… but the main reason is that it feels like a scene, a little too superficial to me. Everyone is watching everyone out of the corner of their eye, comparing themselves to everyone else around them. Or worse, they’re checking their own bodies out! Not my thing.

When I workout, it doesn’t look pretty. I sweat and go red, but I know that means I’m really getting something out of it. I’m never worried about makeup or sweat patches, and I don’t have the spare energy to be measuring myself against everyone else in the room. I’m just hoping I make it through while visions of Karlie Kloss’s body spur me on…

Are there real gyms still out there, where people are more worried about fitness than how they look?? Or have you traded in your gym membership too?

48 comments

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  • Funny you write this today. Just Sunday, as I was lifting weights at my local YMCA, I realized: “I could care less what I look like when I work out around these people.” Everyone was focused on his/her own workout. I go early in the mornings and don’t even comb my hair before I go. I go after work, run on the track, and look like a red, hot, sweaty mess. It’s the Y … you’re supposed to work out and sweat. If you want to worry about how you look and how everyone else looks, go to a bar!

  • Haha, so true! I’m glad I’m not alone in looking like a red, hot mess when I exercise!

  • hm yes, I totally get what you are talking about. I still have my gym membership, but it’s more of a people-watching space than a space where you can workout in peace without being stared at. And the weirdest thing is really when people are checking themselves out in those giant mirrors… I mean, when you are actually at the GYM, the whole purpose is to work your ass off. You can check yourself out later ;)

  • I am very lucky to have my own gym in the house, because like you I find a gym also depressing. For me it is more the carpeting, lightning, the yoga studio I go is so much more welcoming. And I love to exercise outside anyway, running, biking, surfing, playing tennis, etc.
    The yoga studio looks great!
    Simona
    Lake&Moon Find a color scheme for your wardrobe

  • I fail at working out! I just started yoga and it’s the best workout ever!

    http://hashtagliz.com

  • I agree! Yoga is my fav!

  • Hi Neada !

    When I lived in Paris downtown, I had a one-year subscription to a popular gym club. I became addicted. I liked to attended workout classes (body combat, body pump, abs, etc.). Although it was not the best place coz it was packed in the strategic/afterwork hours, it then stinked. And it was not always easy to follow the teacher when someone was walking on your feet and you don’t have room to lift your arms on the sides…
    I moved away from Paris in the surburbs. I didn’t have tim to go to the gym after work then. Public transporation here after 10:00pm (RER not metro) is kinda creepy here. I started instead to run in the wood next to my place on week-ends as I used to do at my family home. Even though I’m too bad to motivate myself to get up and run outside, running and working out in the morning in the wood is something special and magical. To gain some time too, I follow online workouts that I like (blogilates : I love Cassey the girl, she has a fun personnality and really pushes you to work hard, like in class), while I’m at home. And I promise : I sweat, I shout ! It’s very effective (I mean I feel my muscles working). I think I found also another alternative of packed city gym clubs and I enjoy very much this way.

    In Paris I know there are fancy gym clubs (Klay, l’Usine, etc.) but it’s hella expensive and helloooo ! I work : why interesting classes are during day time ?!!!! Anyway here was my input miss Neada and I’m with you : the first important thing for me is to find a good and comfortable environment to workout/run/do yoga that suits my daily habits and where I’m at ease at.

  • Hi Sira!

    Thank you for telling me about your trials with the gym, it’s nice to hear I’m not alone — a commute can really change how you workout. I recently moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and I still travel to go to my yoga studio because I love it so much. I haven’t been able to go as much as I used to, though. I am DEFINITELY going to check out Blogilates, sounds great. Thanks for the tip!

    x Neada

  • Real lifting gyms are not like that. Everyone is just lifting their own weight and trying to improve, if they’re looking at you it’s to spot a rep because you asked them. Olympic and lifting people are great.

  • That’s so nice to hear! Let me know if there are any you can recommend in the NY area – I’m always keen to try somewhere new!

  • Je ne fais pas de sport du tout ;) mais c’est vrai que le sport dans l’imaginaire des gens c’est plutôt fait pour améliorer son apparence, si on veut faire du vrai sport, la salle de gym n’est pas vraiment là pour ça!

    Cécile
    http://www.maxcebycecilej.com

  • Je ne supporte pas, c’est pour ça, pareil, du yoga !

    http://www.therocamadour.fr

  • Fantastique :)

  • I used to love the gym but now I prefer outdoor sports in combination with indoor pilates and yoga :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.trovea.com

  • I’m more into getting my exercise from dancing or walking the city, going to the gym has never been my thing. But what I find a little crazy about gym culture here in NYC (I think it’s a new trend) is all this exhibitionism; all the gym seem to have all these wide windows allowing random people on the street to look at people exercising. I’m sorry but how can people be ok with strangers looking at them when they exercise? It’s one thing to have other people in the gym see you, in the end you are all in it together, but people on the street… I’ve seen from the sidewalk into the gym to find people on their back raising their butt up in the air, thrusting up and down, no privacy at all, it’s kinda crazy.

  • I go with a friend! It makes a huge difference. By myself, i find it depressing and feel lost in the crowd. Together we work our asses off and complain together and hold on until the end of the class! I am addicted to the sauna session that comes afterward.. so i am keeping my gym membership for now, it helps me survive in winter!

  • My gym passes the acid test: I’ve never seen anyone there wearing make-up. Never.

  • I think it depends not only where you go but when you go. I used to work out at 11 at night because there were so many fewer people, so I didn’t have to waste as much time waiting for weights. The people who worked out at that time seemed a lot more serious about their workouts–probably why they picked a less convenient time. We did still have people checking themselves out, but it was actual bodybuilders making sure their form was on point! I even met a boyfriend there (common interests, right?) He was serious about his workouts so he was way more attracted to the sweaty, red girl who was pushing herself and pulling strange, intense faces than anyone who left looking pristine.

    The problem is, I’m not sure I could ever stand to work out at a gym during peak hours anymore. I got way too spoiled!

  • I’ve subscribed for a whole new year in June, so even if I hit the gym less frequently, I couldn’t do without it…

    ???
    Jeanne
    http;//fashionmusingsdiary.com

  • I love to work out (for aesthetics and sanity), but have found that I much prefer to do free exercise, like running or home yoga videos. Not only do these cost nothing (sans winter running gear), but I find it takes about half as much time when I don’t have to travel to a gym or studio in the city.

  • Je suis inscrite depuis le mois de septembre aux cercles de la forme à Paris. La fréquentation est très cosmopolite : blacks, blancs, beurs…gros, minces…petits, grands…jeunes, vieux, vieilles…Je fais de la barre au sol, du yoga, du pilates, de la zumba, du cardio et de la muscu. Les gens ne s’observent pas, se parlent très peu, transpirent beaucoup, viennent pour faire leur séance, sont concentrés et repartent.
    Ce n’est peut être pas la même chose à l’usine?

  • I go to a womens only gym, which makes a huge difference if you ask me. No men around changes the feel of the place completely. And girls who come to the gym to see and be seen? You won’t find them at a womens only gym either ;) Just a bunch of red-faced, sweaty women who come to the gym to work out. Perfect!

  • I agree and this is why I’m recently obsessed with at-home workouts! And I’m actually more motivated to work out when I don’t have to make a commute to get my sweat on. Right now Ballet Beautiful is my fave and if ModelFit produces a DVD, I’d try it in a heartbeat!

    http://www.jetsetheart.com

  • Blogilates is definitely worth a look! Working out alone – and at home – is really double edged: it’s the best alternative to packed classes and music blaring out of the sound system, and at the same time, it can be really hard to motivate yourself and stick to it. But for now that’s what I like the most!

  • C’est super le Yoga ms ça reste cher si on veut un truc bien… Par contre pr KARLIE KLOSS … WTF??? Elle est… comment dire… sans aucunes formes! Vraiment tres tres maigre, pas beau du tt!!!!

  • Yeah, I get pretty gross when I lift in the gym. I want to look good LATER so I bust my ass now!

  • I use to love the gym. But, I also use to be a lot harder on my body and freak out when I was over a 120 pounds (I’m 5’9 with hips so that was not an easy weight to maintain for me). I have been dancing for about 15 years so the pressure over what I saw in the mirror was really high growing up. I hadn’t gone to the gym in a long time but then my Dad bought an Equinox membership as a gift so I tried to get into it again. Unfortunately, the environment made me flashback to mind set of my teen years and I don’t go very often. I do love aspects of the gym but now I prefer running outside, pilates and yoga in my house, and dance classes. I don’t really mind seeing people check themselves out (as a dancer one has to accept it as entertainment) but I do get upset in witnessing self hate in peoples eyes because it makes me worried while also sending me back to critical thoughts I no longer need in my life. Anyway, that’s a bit serious, but it’s mostly to say, yes, I agree the gym is a very complex space. I’m curious about Modo now!

  • I used to go to the gym a lot in college. The gyms at American universities are state of the art. Ours was two stories, had a climbing wall, a track, water slide, several basketball courts… the list goes on. I mostly took classes taught by other students… they were fun but it definitely wasn’t personal. My friends and I would always go partly to socialize before and after class, too. Since graduating, I have joined a small barre studio and I absolutely love it. Small, all women, very personal (instructors know students on a first name basis) and everyone is there to feel good! I could never belong to a stinky gym again!

  • I switched working out at gym for working out at home, and it’s a blast. I can look like a tomato and nobody will care, besides my cat perhaps:) It’s just great – no need to cummute, you can just hop inside the shower right after and than crash on the couch:) I have been following Kayla Itsines programme and you will shred and strenghten up like never before ( also sweat like never before:D)

  • Hi Neada!

    Here in my country the gyms are usually separated to women’s space and men’s space. And from my gym experience, I hate going to the women’s space because everyone is looking at me, comparing themselves to me, always pointing some of my bad traits (I’m not at my finest looks when working out, like you) and making nasty remarks about my sweating and lack of makeup. Also, the women’s space hasn’t got not nearly enough real workout equipment, it’s mostly cardio So I started going to the men’s space with my cousin who lifts but the equipment there is 10 times better and no one is looking at you, although it’s full of men. They just do their routines, and I’ve even got compliments out of them for my lifting achievement, regardless the sweating and no makeup. Turns out men are a lot more tolerant and explain a lot better about any exercise, so I’m feeling a lot more at home around the guys and way more productive.

  • This post made me smile. Is life really THAT complicated in NYC? :) Me? I’m going to a gym, I do my workout and that’s it. I don’t really care if someone is looking / not looking. I like exercising – it’s good for my spine, good for my body, good for my running. As long as nobody throws stones (or kettlebells) at me, I do not give a flying thing about what other people think, whether they watch me, whether they are comparing something. It’s really their problem – not mine :)

  • I live in Sweden and exercise regularly at the gym five times a week. I think in Nordic countries people train a lot and it is a part of the daily life, not a thing to show off. I feel very comfortable while traning, cause no one is checking other people or themselves on the mirror. It is more like antural thing and you are welcome however you look. I find this very comfortable!

  • Used to be a gym rat for years and was only growing more self obsessed and insecure due to the acidic environment of the gym. If you missed a class people would take note and make you feel bad. Then I decided to cut the cord cold turkey after my acupuncturist suggested I change up my routine since he said intense high impact workouts were aging me. I tried metodo derose yofa when I went back to Rome and have been a loyal follower since. Only difference is doing swastya yoga has made me more empowered, self assured, and at peace with myself and my surroundings. Agreed about the gym scene!

  • I love my gym, I live in an older residence area of Buenos Aires and there are only aged woman, who really make a big effort; silk shawls, golden earrings and glittering jumpsuits. It makes me happy to look at them and realise you can age gracefully, even at the gym. But this is also a major part of the Argentine culture.

  • I’ve been a member of both NYSC and Equinox in the past, and have gone to HRC several times. In NYSC the personal trainers creeped me out and felt like they were checking out all the women. Equinox, especially the one in SoHo, feels like a scene. A few of my friends are still members there and every so often they tell me “Ohh I saw this celebrity, that model, this actor..” Wooptie woo. *rolling my eyes* Nobody cares. Now I’m a member of 24-Hour fitness and since it’s not so popular, with only 3 locations in the city, it’s definitely a “go-in & go hard” kind of gym, both for males & females. No frills, no one cares what others look like or what they’re doing, no one’s doing selfies in the mirror. I also go to Yoga Union in Flatiron and have recently tried out SLT which is the baby of yoga + pilates and just overall great butt workout!

  • I’ve lived in NYC for 5 years and I’ve traded my gyms for studio classes. I was a gym member for 2 years but hardly went because it didn’t have classes and honestly, I’m too lazy to get motivated. Then I tried SoulCycle and before you roll your eyes, I felt like I found a regime that worked for me. My instructor is amazing (hi Akin!) and I loved the efficiency of 45 mins workout.

    Then Classpass came.. which ultimately changes everything and opened the doors to studios around the city for just $99 a month. I’m pretty sure I’ll never join a gym again because (1) it’s so much for efficient, (2) I love the fact that I’m working out under the guidance of someone who knows what to do and (3) I get to do different things a few times a week. Win – Win.

  • Anne-Marie December, 11 2014, 12:51 / Reply

    I came back to my gym routine 6 years ago… at 42 years old. Ex aerobic instructor, active mother on my bike in the city, cross country skier, yoga lover, I was always active. But was that enough to prevent me from loosing muscle mass? The answer is NO ! Women have the muscle mass peak at 18 years old compare to men who have it in their 30’s. Working in a big university sometimes has advantages… My colleague form the kinesiology department called one morning asking me to play guinee pig for students. They had lost one of there volunteer for a study. The first step was to be fully and I really mean fully evaluated by students. Woaw the results were received like a slap in the face. I could not believe it. My cardiac and pulmonary output were excellent, my muscle power, way below average. … at 42 !!! and active. They (the students) kindly explained to me that in 25 years from there, I would have trouble opening a jar of jam. Back in the gym I was, big, big time !!! I train at the university’s gym with young athletes who train for the elite sport they practice. I love it !!! They are focused on their training not their body. We all sweat and give the best out of ourselves. My partner is a bit younger than I and she is my trainer (kinesiologist) and we train in the optic of aging in grace, beauty and in bloody good shape. I will be able to open all the jam jars of the retirement house when I am 90 !!! You beth!! So ladies, training is for your self, not the others. The mirrors are there to verify if you do the exercises properly . The rest is futility. One could also train home with free weights and large ball.

  • I agree with each Anne-Marie’s word about losing muscle mass, aging gracefully and opening all jam jars in household.
    Ladies, please remember about it,.

  • I like to exercise at home. I either exercise to Ellen Barrett workouts or if I do not have the time I have a basket full of: light hand weights, an exercise ball(to put in the small of my back when I do sit ups, so much better that way!), and a stretchy thing with handles on both ends (not sure what it’s called) and I do 10 minutes or so of various exercises straight out of bed, just to wake myself up. I also like to go on walks outside and take deep breaths (good for the lungs), and I try to do various stretching exercises throughout the day, too.

    I also love to swim, but in lakes only :-). Funny and true story: I tried swimming laps in the university pool in college but there were these silly college boys lurking under water with swim goggles on, luring at the girls as they swam, lol. They were harmless of course, just boys being boys, but in their enthusiasm they would get right in your way and you would kind of lose your mojo, lol.

  • La plupart des gens qui font du sport sont principalement préoccupés par leurs apparences physiques. Perso, je préfère en faire pour me déstresser, ou me vider l’esprit, je trouve que le reste est secondaire :). J’ai d’ailleurs trouvé quelques salles de sport pas trop mal avec le site de rencontres entre amis http://www.woozgo.fr/ . Quand tu seras en France, tu pourrais consulter ce dernier ;)

  • I tried yoga when I was in university and I found it boring. I like dance music and high energy, so the gym suits me. I never worked out consistently until last month when I decided I wanted to be more toned and have a nice butt. So I started to join classes and I don’t really care too much what other people look like, because I’m there for me. And there’s so many different people in the classes that I take that I don’t care either if they come or don’t come.

  • There was a corner in my former gym where all the guys were showing off their bodies- to each others I think because I cannot imagine a girl being interested (maybe it’s just me…). Women generally minded their own business and didn’t look around for approval. But the whole experience was so boring that I’ve traded my gym membership for Ballet Beautiful and never looked back!
    Ana
    http://www.champagnegirlsabouttown.co.uk

  • I have definitely traded my gym membership in for taking yoga classes and doing more things at dedicated studios. I can’t deal with the constant judgments at the gym…

  • I use to work out with a trainer in a local gym and loved that. I got what I needed to do done and I was gone. But now everything seems so intimidating without a trainer. It’s so complicated now, the machines. It gets crowded. So many people who are either so serious or not at all. Where is the middle ground.

    And now everyone wants cross fit. I thought about it but its so much of a commitment and with two kids that is just not going to happen. Nor am I sure I want that level.

    I liked the exercise, wanted to stay strong and healthy and not get hurt.
    I get bored doing cardio so I prefer to walk or play tennis.

    I am looking to do Pilates or yoga because of tightness and I do not want to get hurt but those studios are even more intimidating and private sessions are even more out of budget. but ideally that is where I want to be. I love the sound of your Yoga place!

  • I don’t like gym club for the same reason. I went a few time with a friend, and people had their hair done, perfect make up etc… I stick to my dance lesson, i feel better in the dance studio.

  • I’ve stopped going to the gym as well and found the best place in Paris to practice yoga early in the morning, right by the Canal St Martin…it’s called Mysore Yoga Paris -candles, sound of the breath, experienced teachers are much better than the gym rat environments ;)

  • Hi Neada,

    I am with you. Gyms in Chicago are always packed during the winter. The only reason I would go is to be able to run. I love yoga and barre workouts. Check out barre3 online. It is great for when you want a morning workout!

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