Do you need a gym membership to be active and fit? Or can you simply be more active out in the world? Before I moved to USA, I had never gotten a gym membership. Gyms were not very common back in Mexico and not a thing in my family culture either. Instead, my mom would make us do physical activities like ballet, gymnastics, speed skating, swimming lessons, and dance lessons. But our main activity was afternoon walks.
After my mom had her third child, she started gaining weight. At the time, we lived in a very cold town, there was a bakery right in front of our house, we had McDonalds right across the border, and she had 3 kids! So being active was quite challenging for her.
My grandpa, who had always been an extremely fit man yet had never set foot in a gym, gave my mom a great piece of wisdom. He said… “Darling, all you have to do is go for walks. If you do this every day, even your ears will get thinner”. My mom explained to him how this wasn’t as safe to do in this city. His response? “You can go around the block as many times you can, there are no excuses for that”.
Ouch! Wasn’t he right? I mean, we can all walk around the block, right?
My mom listened to his advice and started doing this, she lost all the weight and up to this day she has never been overweight.
I never felt the need to join a gym until… I moved to California! SOCAL culture seemed to be all about the gym, gym clothes, and six packs. This was quite different for me, and since I really wanted to fit in the country, I decided to join a gym.
I had a personal trainer for a few sessions. She was a lovely blonde girl (she was as fit as the “fit girls” in the magazines). She gave me a gym tour, showed me some machines, some new exercises, and pushed me very hard to do well. The results?… I puked!
That’s right! My very first time at a gym and I puked in front of my trainer and other gym members. I was quite embarrassed and this made me even less attracted to the experience of going to gym. I always felt awkward and like everyone could tell that I had no idea what to do there (which is true).
For the longest time, I have been struggling with the gym culture in California. It’s been an on and off relationship between us. Sometimes I join because I feel a little judged for not having a gym membership, as if I am from another planet. But after nine years of living in SOCAL, I have come to terms with this and decided to listen to my grandpa’s advice.
I cancelled my monthly $150 gym membership and started going for more walks, LONG ones. Sometimes I walk 8 or more miles per day! I do all my errands on foot even if this means that it will take me longer to get to my destination. Sometimes it is faster to walk than to drive in LA, or the difference could be just 35 minutes. To me, this is much better than driving.
To keep active, I go for hikes, enjoy a yoga class, go to a climbing gym, take a barre classes, and walk to restaurants and bars. I just set my days to be filled with opportunities to get some walking involved.
I keep surprising people, but their reactions have changed from “YOU DON’T HAVE A GYM MEMBERSHIP?!” to… “YOU WALKED?!”
I seriously admire people who love going to the gym and put in all that effort. They have a ton of discipline and God bless them for it! But if you are like me and just not feeling the gym culture, I can tell you…it’s okay! All you need to do is bring physical activity into your everyday life—to get exercise in ways that work for you!
Cheers to Grandpa’s wisdom. Let’s make our days active!
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