Spicing up My Long-Term Relationship with the Gym

Believe it or not, February 14 is just around the corner. I never seem to get my Christmas cards out in time, so sometimes I send Valentine’s Day cards to my friends and family. In the season of celebrating important relationships, I’m also taking a moment to reflect on how I can improve another very special relationship of mine.

Four years ago, I walked through the doors on what would blossom into something I never imagined it could be. At the time, I just needed a place to sweat that was close to work. I chose West Loop Athletic Club purely out of convenience and proximity. Little did I know I was getting into a long-term serious relationship.

WAC quickly became my haven to escape stress during my lunch break. It was where I first explored the possibilities beyond the cardio machines and learned how to use weights. Here was where I did my first burpee, my first TRX pike, my first mountain climber and my first jump rope double under.

I haven’t always been a dedicated gym goer these four years. When I’d go off and train for a marathon, my dates with the gym became less frequent. At other times, I’d get swept up in the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday madness and not spend as much time cultivating my gym relationship.

Yet no matter how long I was gone, CAC had no judgement about my time away. I was always welcomed back with open arms. Instructors were always happy to see me, even if it had been years since I had taken their class. (Hi yoga David and spin Frank!)

Even as life changes presented themselves — I switched jobs a few times and my routine often changed — CAC went above and beyond to keep our relationship going strong. New locations opened close to home, bringing with them many of the instructors I had grown to love.

Keeping the Betsy + Gym Relationship Alive

CAC was doing everything it could to ensure our relationship wouldn’t fizzle out. But I wasn’t. Now I’m no cheater. I’ve never considered leaving for another gym because CAC has always there for me.

Yet still, I was getting kinda bored at the gym. It’s kinda like any other relationship four years in. Even if you’re still into each other, it’s not as exciting as when you first started dating. So you’ve got to do something to keep the relationship feeling fresh. Lately I realized I was really leaning too heavily on the gym and not bringing anything new to the table.

Attending 5 spin classes a week would not just bore me… it was going to flatline my fitness because I wasn’t challenging myself in new ways. Like with any long-term relationship, I had gotten too comfortable. It was time to spice things up.

A few weeks ago, spicing up officially commenced. I’m going to Jenna’s TRX class, a strength workout that knocks me on my butt every time. I’m grabbing heavier weights for Stephanie’s Workout Challenge, pushing myself to work harder than before. I tried out Jonathan’s tabata class at Bucktown, a small group high-intensity interval class this endurance gal never thought she’d be into. And I’m coming back to old favorites, too. I’m re-becoming a regular at one of my favorite spin classes and settling back into my front-row seat.

My muscles have been a lot sore this past month as I have challenged myself in new ways, but it feels really great to have new challenges and goals to work towards. I’m also giving myself more recovery time and learning to be more conscious of how my body is feeling. A lot has changed over this time — I’m definitely not as young as I was four years ago.

So don’t worry gym. Even though things got boring there for awhile, I’m ready to do my part. Let’s keep this relationship going strong.

How about you? How do you keep your relationship with the gym interesting?

betsy picBetsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter whose passion is telling the stories of entrepreneurs, brands and businesses that challenge the status quo. When she’s not biking or running all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym | betsymikel.com