Why going to the gym just isn't for me:
I’ve tried over and over again to go to the gym. I’ve gone to several different gyms in case it was the environment that I didn’t enjoy. I’ve had personal training sessions to give me direction. I’ve given myself goals to aim for, goals that are meant to motivate me to want to go to the gym. But even though I’ve done as much as I can to convince myself, and others, that I do actually enjoy going to the gym, it just isn’t true. And I’ve come to realise that it is ok to not like it. Keeping fit should never feel like a chore. And going to the gym feels like a chore to me.
But, now that I am working full time, it is even more important than ever that I maintain some sort of fitness level. I can’t sit around in an office, eating the snacks that someone has brought in for us to all enjoy (again), and not work off all those calories at some point during the week. But working out should definitely be something that you enjoy doing rather than dread the thought of.
Which is why I’ve finally realised that I need to ditch the gym and start focusing on fitness activities that I do enjoy. Those activities involve me being outside, not stuck on a machine indoors. I spend a lot of my spare time walking, or (in the summer) cycling across the countryside that I’m lucky enough to live right next door to. But, even though I love doing both of those things, the one thing that I prioritise above all else is horse riding.
I had my first riding lesson just over ten years ago. TEN years! Yet it has taken me until now to realise that it is actually a really great form of exercise, as well as a hobby. Maybe it is because it is a hobby to me or maybe it is because, when I started out, I didn’t realise just how high my fitness levels would need to be to be able to ride, but I never used to see riding as a legitimate way of keeping fit. Which is ridiculous, because it is an incredible form of exercise.
And, as with any sport, there is more to horse riding than an outsider may believe. So, just as I am certain that playing football involves a lot more than a bunch of people simply ‘kicking a ball around’, I can assure you that horse riding requires more than someone simply sitting atop a horse and ‘letting the animal do all of the work’.
You need a strong core, good balance, strong arms and legs (especially in winter when your horse decides to take matters into its own hands… hooves?) and you need a good level of stamina to ride a horse.
But rather than focusing on all of that, which would only lead to me stressing about riding in the same way that I used to stress about going to the gym, I actually enjoy riding for no other reason than the fact that it is fun. And even though I’ve looked at riding in this way for the past ten years, I’ve only just stopped to question why I stuck with riding and not with the gym. Now the answer is clear as daylight. It’s simply because I love it. I know, it’s not exactly a revolutionary or ground-breaking realisation to come to but it’s true nonetheless.
Realising that my hobby is a form of exercise:
So, ten years down the line, with numerous failed gym memberships to speak of, I can say with some certainty that you absolutely have to find a way to enjoy keeping fit if you’re going to have any hope at all of sticking with it. You need to find something that has you thinking about it in the moments between each session. You need a form of exercise that you’re passionate about. You need to find an activity that you want to do, not one that you simply feel that you have to do.
Even though deep down I do know that horse riding keeps me fit, it isn’t because of that fact that I keep doing it. It’s because I love riding to a point that I cannot imagine a life without it now. It’s the freedom from reality that the sport gives me that draws me back in, fall after fall, win after win. Not the fact that it is keeping me from going up a dress size. And that passion, that drive, that feeling of pure happiness is something that I never got from going to the gym.
Horse riding gets me out of the house, it forces me to do what is essentially a full body work out, and more often than not, it works my mental health as much as it does my physical. Without me even realising it.
I might have had the best intentions when it came to filling out yet another gym membership form but I should have known that it was never going to work for me. I love spending time outside, and if walks in the countryside, hacks on my pony and an afternoon spent sorting out my pony’s stable is what keeps me fit, happy and healthy, then so be it. I have the utmost respect for people who do enjoy the gym but pounding away on the treadmill just isn’t the way forward for everyone. And it definitely isn’t for me.
- Never be a chore
- Be something that you enjoy
- Make you feel good
- Relax your mind
- Be anything that gets you moving
So that is how #IGetFit but I want to know how you keep fit and healthy?
This post contains affiliate links and is in collaboration with Decathlon, who are running a Keep Fit campaign. They kindly sent me the beautiful jacket you can see me wearing in this post, as well as Beano’s dashing saddlepad. All opinions remain my own and I am simply grateful that Beano and I can now go out looking so well kept!