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.

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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?