Dear Gym, I Quit. It’s Not Me, It’s You!


Dear gym I quit - Jessica Rose Williams

Being healthy is really important to me. Without our health we haven’t got much and it should be a priority for all of us. Sadly, we can’t be healthy without a combination of good food and exercise. Getting that balance right isn’t always easy and lord knows I still struggle but I recently took an unexpected step in the right direction and quit the gym.

I’ve been a member of different gyms on and off since I was 16. You know how it goes, you join up feeling really enthusiastic and determined to go three times a week, get really fit and end up looking like an Instafamous fitness model. It never happens, not to me anyway.

Me, myself and the gym

My latest membership lasted about 18 months. I started with the same enthusiasm I always did, equipped with my official workout plan the personal trainer wrote out for me on induction day. I went regularly and once I’d been, there’s no doubt that I felt great. I had that satisfied feeling you get when you work up a sweat watching the calories burned count mount up on the machine. This all sounds great but there was a big problem – I never wanted to go and I hated every minute of cardio. I might have felt really good afterwards but did I enjoy one minute on that treadmill? No! I hated it. It was torture, one eye on the TV screen and the other on the timer praying it would all end. Even worse, I’d often run at the side of my husband (who LOVES the gym) and would have to put up with him regularly reaching over to notch my speed up! Not once did I think ‘yeah! I really want to go to the gym’ – I thought ‘I should go to the gym’. I’d paid for my membership, so I felt I should get my monies worth. Want and should are two very different things. Too many shoulds in our lives is a recipe for disaster because we aren’t being true to who we are.

Hating every minute was only the beginning. The biggest problem I had was my thinking that because I’d been to the gym, it was perfectly reasonable to demolish that Indian takeaway or those chocolate chip cookies without having to feel guilty. Going to the gym was my free pass to junk food, only I still felt guilty after eating it. The days after said takeaway the guilt would come again if I didn’t go to the gym to burn all the junk food I thought I deserved off. I was in a vicious cycle of guilt. I slowly realised the whole thing had become a stick to beat myself with. It had to stop.

Finding a solution

Giving up exercise altogether or food I enjoy i.e the occasional Indian takeaway wasn’t an option. I started thinking about exercise that I actually enjoy and this is when the idea of balance became clear to me. Horse riding was top of my list. I’m at my happiest on a horse and it’s really good exercise. Looking back it was the strangest thing but I would feel like I didn’t have time to ride some days because I should to go to the gym, yet I enjoyed riding so much more. I also really enjoy walking Dolly (my dog) and yoga, which was something I’d tried and enjoyed but never stuck to. None of these involve intensive cardio so why was I putting myself through something I hated? I gave up fighting it and opted for the more enjoyable but less intensive workouts. I quit the gym.

There’s a lot of research to suggest the way we look is down to what we eat and exercise hasn’t got as much to do with it as we think. You can’t actually cancel out all those sugary treats with a half hour treadmill session. So sad but true. Eating and exercising with intention provides a realistic solution to this sad truth. This means exercising because you really want to and eating what you really want to. For this to work you have to only do exercise you love and only eat what you love. Moderation is the key here.

Where I stand now

This is where I stand on being healthy – Take a more rounded approach. Eat good food that you enjoy and only do exercise you enjoy. If you are enjoying something, I think it’s good for you. Stop being hard on yourself. I know that isn’t always easy and I’m the first one to come crashing down on myself but you really do deserve better. Perfection isn’t the aim, you’ll never get there anyway so you’re wasting your time trying. I think it’s really important to stop punishing ourselves with a vicious cycle of food and exercise. Being riddled with guilt has got to be a bad thing, it cannot do us any favours.

Two months after quitting, do I regret it? No. It was something else I would worry about having to fit in and now that worry is gone. I feel much better for trying to take better care of myself in general. I no longer have that post gym feeling to provide that free pass to junk food so I’m more mindful about eating well in general. Not depriving myself of foods I want and not forcing myself to do exercise I hate. I’m not where I would want to be in a perfect world but quitting the gym was a step in the right direction for my balance. I enjoy the time I’ve got back by not having to fit it in and I’ve used that to do more exercise I enjoy including yoga at home – which I love. If you’re interested in doing some yoga at home in your own time like I was, I would highly recommend Yoga with Adriene. I’m 10 days into her 31 day yoga revolution on YouTube as I’m writing this and I’m hooked.

I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you. Let me know in the comments below.

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Dear gym I quit it's not me it's you. Why living a minimal lifestyle led me to quit the gym and why I have no regrets. It's ok if the gym isn't for you | Simple living | Minimalist living | Self development | Self care | Minimalism


13 comments on “Dear Gym, I Quit. It’s Not Me, It’s You!”

  1. 100% yes! I’ve recently fallen into thinking I need to do high intensity or cross fit workouts to be fit, and they just don’t work for my body. I’ve woken up too many times covered in serious bruises (like I’ve been hit with a bat)- so this week I quit! Back to the old faithful yoga for me. You’d think I’d have figured that out already, considering I’m a teacher. I might never look like an Insta fitness guru, but I’d much rather do a workout that doesn’t make me feel like garbage!

  2. Ahh Jessica You are living what happened to me a few years ago, I even tried a home gym which was fab for a while, until we moved to a smaller house, and I’m now trying to sell my cross trainer, as my minimalism feels more important than gym equipment! I too decided to do more of what I love, and walking Miss Darcy is way up there on my list, with Pilates class once a week,& pilates at home a couple of times a week,, which is much more beneficial to my health, helping my back problem and core strength, now I’ve started, on your recommendation yoga with Adrianne, I feel so much more healthier, as like you said, it’s all about “a little bit of what you fancy ” moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle, and healthy mind! It’s only taken me 48 years to realise this🙊 I’m very sad now, even when on holiday, I try to meditate, walk and eat fairly healthy, (she says sitting eating some milky way stars) 🙊I’m away so I’m allowed hee hee x

    1. I’ve been tempted by the home gym but never took the plunge because houses in the UK are so much smaller. I don’t think it’s sad at all. When I was in Mexico in January I would meditate every morning, it was lovely. Hope you enjoyed your stars!

  3. Reading this, it very well could have been me writing every word! I’ve been too scared to cancel my gym membership because I’m worried about how the staff at the gym will look at me when I do – crazy, right?!
    Thank you so much for sharing. I might just go ahead and cancel it today after all…

  4. You mentioned that you’d feel good after going to the gym – I also hate cardio BUT I love the part where you feel good afterwards, so much so that I will willingly go to the gym and endure an hour of suckfest for the reward of feeling so awesome when I’m done. This isn’t a criticism of your choice to quit the gym (I love your story, power to it!) just a different perspective. Also, the good feeling I get after the gym isn’t just the satisfaction of having gone, I get that real chemical high. Worth it!

    I also struggle with feeling ‘shouldy’ about exercise and connecting it to burning what I eat. Recently I decided that I was not allowed to connect exercise with weight loss any more (because you’re right, exercise is great for building strength and fitness but doesn’t have that much effect on your body size compared to the importance of what you eat.) Now when I’m thinking of going to the gym, I always ask myself “if weight loss wasn’t an issue, would you go to the gym today?” If the answer is “no” I don’t go. I exercise when I feel like moving my body or if I’m feeling motivated to strengthen some muscles or get my heart rate up for non-weight-loss reasons. This approach also means that I’m taking more responsibility for what I eat, because I’m acknowledging the reality that my body shape depends much more on my food choices than on how much I exercise.

    1. It sounds like you have a great balance. I think it comes down to exercising in a way that feels good for you. That takes some experimentation but if you’re enjoying it or the effects of it then I say do it.

  5. Hi
    I found your blog from I had been sedentary for quite some time after a period of being in great shape. I had gained 30 lbs. I joined a gym but I found it cumbersome to get my stuff together, go to the gym, come home etc. And I really didn’t enjoy it. I bought new running shoes, though I don’t run that much but I have them!. I have a jumprope. I watch yoga videos and do them sometimes. The biggest thing I’ve done for myself for the pure pleasure of it is get a pool pass. Oklahoma is incredibly hot in the summer. I do laps. Not Ironman laps, laps of dog paddles and floating with back kicks, with a few trips down the water slide thrown in. I get a full body work out. But the best thing is I enjoy it. I’m not hot or sweaty. It’s pleasurable and life should be about pleasure, not hedonism, but pleasure.

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