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This week, I discovered another way Friends lied to me as a kid:

It’s not that hard to quit the gym. 💁🏻‍♀️

Season 4 Chandler GIF by Friends - Find & Share on GIPHY

At least, it wasn’t for me, when I cancelled the membership I got in late 2018.

Maybe that was because they’re so busy right now with January Joiners.

Which makes me a January Unjoiner, I suppose.

I like that phrase!

Also, it’s v me to be going in the COMPLETE opposite direction of the trends. Like, of course I’d quit the gym the week and month people are most likely to join.

But I didn’t do that on purpose. And it almost didn’t even happen this week, because I didn’t want to have to deal with crowds at the gym, even if I was just going in to sign paperwork. ¯\(ツ)

Then I remembered my next payment would happen next week.

And alas, here we are. 🙃

Why I Quit the Gym

The reason I finally cut out the membership had more to do with:

  • A random scroll through my entire Fitbit history (all the way back to 2012!) during a bout of insomnia and realizing that 2019 was my most active year in almost a decade, despite going to the gym less than ever.
  • A reread of The Body is Not an Apology, which talks a bit about a mindset around exercise that’s totally in line with my dance studio’s shame-free philosophy, which is now my own.

You see, I joined a gym because I felt like I “should.”

It was when I had first left in-house marketing to focus on my chronic illness. Making health a priority was (still is!) my priority. And I told myself that healthy people join gyms.

And when I first joined, it was an important commitment towards getting healthy.

It was me putting down $40/month to be active, something I hadn’t been able to be for long at the time.

But looking back, it was always more about the commitment than anything.

Cause here’s the thing:

The venn diagram of “exercise I like” and “exercise this gym offers” is just two circles. No overlap.

Well, I guess I can listen to music in both situations.

My regular workout when I went there was walking on a treadmill followed by stretching and body weight exercises. Nothing remotely complicated.

And on the list of exercise I tolerate, those are the least tolerable activities.

Making Space for Joy

The exercise I actually LIKE?

That’s dancing…even just dancing around my apartment…or walking outside in this beautiful city.

None of the activities I enjoy most for exercise can be done at that gym.

I either go to my dance studio, outside, or just move things around my apartment.

So that’s why I haven’t been to the gym in more than 5 months. And also why those same 5 months are some of my most active in years.

Because when I finally stopped telling myself “I really should go to the gym…I’m GONNA go to the gym…later…” and just accepted it, I focused on being more active outside of it.

For example, my Fitbit has a feature where you can have it buzz 10 minutes til the top of the hour if you haven’t gotten at least 250 steps that hour. I’ve started using that as a “natural pomodoro” where I work or sit for 50 minutes, then walk or dance around for 5-10.

I do this most of the day, every day, and it adds up to more time than I’d ever spend in one session at the gym.

Before, I’d hold back on activity outside of the gym to save my energy (you know I’m all about energy) for my “real” workout. But then I’d end up not going and doing it.

Not anymore.

Now, when it’s time to take a break from writing and Carly Rae Jepsen comes on Spotify Shuffle, I’m not afraid to go all out with my own Party for One and have a workout right there. 💁🏻‍♀️

I’m confident I’ll meet my intentions around physical activity this year without the membership.

Which brings me to the lesson in all this:

Sometimes New Habits Need Subtraction, Not Addition

Normally, when we set a goal, resolution, habit, whatever, we only think about what we need to start doing or add to our schedule to accomplish it.

But sometimes the answer is to subtract.

For example, when I was trying to read more, the answer wasn’t to add another big chunk of reading time to my busy schedule.

I just switched where the Instagram app and Kindle app were on my iPhone, and started scrolling books instead of my feed. (I want to write a whole separate post about how that 2-minute task completely changed my habits, just through the power of “muscle memory”).

Now over to you.

Consider the goals that you think require adding more to your plate.

What could you stop doing, or just do less of, that will help instead? 🤔

If you want my help building new habits that are both easy and fun, you might be interested in the Happy Habit workshop!

Why Starting New Habits Requires Subtraction, Not Addition

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