I Hate the Gym! But, I LOVE Exercising!

exercise gym stairmasterIt’s not that I think the gym is a bad place. It certainly is not! It’s just not the right place for me.

Many years ago when I was stuck in a dieting mindset, I used to starve myself of real food and then torture my body at the gym, three or four times per week, and wonder, “why on earth am I not losing any weight?”

The gym, for me, became a place of failure and dread.

After eating the least amount of nutrients possible (usually a cold salad covered in fat-free dressing), I would hop onto that darn stairmaster machine and climb an imaginary staircase for fifty minutes. But, I never got anywhere. I didn’t even make it to the top floor of the building. I just remained, stuck inside, endlessly climbing.

It made me angry as heck!

With all of that metal machinery clanging and banging around me, I felt like I was incarcerated. And, my crime…  an inability to get fit and trim!

It’s not that I don’t like to exercise. On the contrary, I LOVE exercising! Exercise always makes me feel great. It’s just that the gym wasn’t the best place for me to do it.

I prefer being outdoors in nature.

Long brisk walks through the gorgeous paths in Central Park works best for me. As a nice bonus, my senses fill with sounds I like to hear; the birds singing in the trees and the soft thud of the earth beneath my feet.


Every gym I’ve been to usually has a sound system blaring from speakers strategically planted directly above my head.

Some people like that. I don’t.

When I’m outside, my eyes experience the colors that nature provides: pink cherry blossoms in spring, lush green grass in summer, colorful leaves during the fall, and crisp white and brown on the bark of trees in winter.

Many gyms have color as well – sometimes grey, blue, red or white. But, most of the bursts of vibrant color usually come from televisions propped in front of many of the machines.  That’s not what I want to look at.

I prefer a long hike and scrambling over challenging rocks rather than the stagnant feel of a treadmill.

When I’m outside in nature the aroma of the spring hyacinths, freshly cut grass and even horse manure in the city parks inspires me. Yes, horse manure! Isn’t that a funny thought?IMG_0312

The mounted police trot their horses through Central Park leaving their residue behind. It always reminds me of being out in the country.

The gym has an odor too, but it’s not the one I want to be surrounded by.

Also, I can’t stand air-conditioning! My body feels so offended by unnaturally chilled air blowing on me.  The gyms are usually pumping out re-circulated old, stale cold air. I much prefer a gentle summer breeze against my skin when I’m sweating.

Even in the winter, I love being outside. Every time there is a snowstorm in New York City, I clear my schedule for the day and head out to Central Park with my husband plus a sled.

Climbing up those hills with a sled in tow is great exercise for my gluteus maximus (buttocks!) and legs. But, it doesn’t feel like exercise at all because there is a “fun” factor involved. Being outside playing in nature’s gym is really a treat for me.

Sledding picture by Ben Rich
Photo by Ben Rich


Once I escaped from the “diet and exercise mindset” my weight was never again a problem. You can read more about the dangers of dieting here: Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight!

Like I said, the gym isn’t a bad place, it’s actually a GREAT place for a lot of folks. It’s just not the right place for me.

Where do you like to exercise?


  • Love this post ! I try desperately to exercise outside as much as possible. I used to be a treadmill junkie, but getting running to get nowhere is kind of torture. If I go to the gym now, I’m normally going for a zumba class or something to mix it up–and have fun. Let’s go for a walk in Central Park sometime!

    • You’re my kinda gal! I saw your skydiving video from last year. AWESOME! Yes, let’s make a play date for some summer fun in the park!

  • Nancy

    I always enjoy reading your articles but want to comment on
    this one.

    The reason you, and so many people, are not successful at
    the gym is because you can’t possibly change your body by just doing
    cardio. Actually your body may change… but you will get fatter. Your cortisol levels will rise and your body will store fat and use muscle for energy. The reason so many people, especially women, don’t see results in the gym is because they ONLY do cardio. They’re afraid to do any type of strength training because they think they will get “big and bulky”. That is such a myth! Strength training has so many benefits, including improved bone density, arthritis relief, improved balance, healthy state of mind. Not to mention how your body will change as a result of strength training.

    Something to keep in mind is we never want to lose “weight”. People that just want to “lose weight” and don’t understand the difference between losing “weight” and losing “fat” are at a disadvantage because if they are not eating properly and getting in the right amounts of good, quality protein, carbohydrates and good fats, they risk losing muscle. Your heart is a muscle. No one wants their heart to shrink,right?

    I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Personal Trainer and
    I train at Flex Appeal gym in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Not
    your typical gym and definitely not conventional training. We are a personal training gym and our current list of clients range in age from 10 to 89. Our goal is to have focus in the gym. There is no music. No TV.
    No super bright colors. And no treadmills! If you’re ever in Rhode Island, please stop by and visit us!

    • Jennifer Topping

      Nancy, sounds like where you work out is much like the “gym” of the referral partners whose clients I coach. I was so delighted that they are only one-on-one personal training with emphasis on HIIT. Also, they have NO MIRRORS too! How refreshing!!

    • Your gym sounds like a great one, Nancy. My hubby loves going to the gym to pump iron. Me… I like the outdoors. It’s a good thing there’s something for everyone! Next time we’re in Rhode Island we’ll stop by and say hello.

    • hankmehle

      Your response sounds self-serving when and you make swooping statements like “your body may change…but you will get fatter”

      I’ve always found that WHERE you exercise is hardly important. It’s exercising on a regular basis that makes a difference. I find most “gurus” to be just salespeople. I have had the most success doing dopey exercises on a rug at my house with not a single piece of “gym” equipment, “gazelles” or screaming instructors. We’ve had a huge influx of that cr@p and obesity has risen.

      Folks – common sense is all you need.

  • Ann

    Very nice. People and nature are one.

  • Beth

    Hi Andrea,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Just this morning, somone asked me what my favorite time of the year is. I actually enjoy all the seasons as long as I get my playtime outside. When my kids were younger we were always on some type of outdoor adventure, but now that one is off at college and the other is busy in high school, it’s time to find new playmates. It’s very sad, but many women in our age range are not interested in, or physically fit enough to participate in fun outdoor activities. I wish you and I were neighbors, because I would join you for sledding.
    Take Care!

    • @Beth – Some sledding would be fun! Your kids are blessed to have you guiding them to the outdoors. Now that they are grown, it’s time for you to get back out there and have some fun. Have you tried the local AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) chapter in your area? There are many outdoor groups – find one and go take a hike!