9 Ways a Gym Membership Changed Me

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How a Gym Membership Changed Me by Stephanie Nickel

As I write this, I can claim only three visits to the gym since I (re)joined. And yet … the changes are already taking place.

Here are nine of them:

1. The Good Hurt

When I worked as a personal trainer, I was repeatedly asked, “There’s such a thing?” And my answer was—and is, “Most definitely!” I have decided not to work out so intensely that I ache the next day, but twinges are good, as is the inability to laugh without my abs objecting. It means my muscles are changing and that’s a very good thing. So, yes, there is good hurt.

2. Sense of Accomplishment

My workouts haven’t been super strenuous—yet—but every day I get to the gym gives me a sense that I am doing the right thing. (I knew it in my head before, but now it permeates my being.) I pack up my gym stuff and take it to work with me. If I come home first, I’m not going to get there.

3. New Determination

It isn’t just about losing some weight (although I do want to do so) or about toning up and developing some muscle mass (both of which I want to do as well). It’s about putting one foot in front of the other, literally, and benefiting from the many additional bonuses of regular exercise. It’s also about developing a good habit—and sticking with it.

4. More Positive Outlook

I have a heavy workload, which I have taken on myself, and it can become overwhelming if I don’t keep my priorities straight. While you would think I wouldn’t have time to go to the gym three or more times a week, it is actually vital that I do. I can’t accomplish any of my tasks to the best of my ability if I have a bad attitude. And that’s another benefit of physical activity: the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormone.  🙂

5. Opportunity to Encourage Others by Example

I have recently become a young friend’s accountability partner. We connect multiple times each day via Facebook. This is definitely a mutually beneficial relationship. Knowing I will be sharing what I eat and my level of activity keeps me doing better—not perfectly, and that’s completely fine. And just yesterday, I met up with another young friend I’ve known since she was a baby. She and I may be getting together to work out from time to time. I look forward to it.

6. Motivation to Eat Better

Exercise does make one hungry, but if you’re like me, I have no desire to spend 30-60 minutes working out and then sit down to eat something that negates most, if not all, of the benefits from said exercise. The more I exercise, the more I want to eat well … and, of course, the more I’ll see the changes I’m hoping for. My daughter is taking me out for lunch to celebrate my birthday. I went online and checked out the menu of the restaurant I want to try. And what did I settle on? Vegetable ragout. It sounds delicious and is a much healthier option than several of the foods on the menus.

7. Realigned Priorities

The reality is, if we don’t do the best we can as stewards of the body God gave us, we will face challenges in every other area of life. And instead of becoming a vicious cycle, it becomes a glorious one. More exercise = more energy. More exercise = more desire to eat well. More exercise = more positive outlook. And on and on and on.

8. Ability to Function on Less Sleep

I don’t recommend this on an ongoing basis, but I can function on six hours. I do better if I sleep for seven hours and that is my goal. Not only can I function on less sleep, I sleep more soundly—and that’s a very good thing.

And one more thing …

9.Disappointment When I Can’t Get to the Gym

Seriously … I help with our church’s midweek children’s program. So there really wasn’t enough time to get to the gym on Wednesday and I was bummed. But that made me feel great. Ironic, isn’t it? After only two visits, I looked forward to going again. I hope to get there four times a week on an ongoing basis (cardio every day, abs two days, one day each of upper body and lower body work).

Have you ever had a gym membership? Did you find it helpful? Why or why not?

A gym membership can change you … for the better. (tweet this)


Steph Beth Nickel is an author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

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