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I hate going to the gym, so I did this instead

Do you hate going to the gym? If you're anything like me, you probably shuffle between competing priorities and working out comes at the tail end of that list. Somehow, in our minds, taking care of our body isn't important enough - strange isn't it?

We all know what we should do- work out more often, eat healthy, sleep 8 hours, meditate, save for retirement, strive for our dreams and so on. But why don't we? We clearly know it's important - and yet these get lost under the pressure of instant gratification that our generation has fallen prey to. "Just this once let me have that ice cream and from tomorrow I'm eating healthy." Just that, tomorrow never comes!

We all know this but a few years ago one of my mentors, Ramit Sethi (he probably doesn't even know that he's my mentor - I just took a bunch of his courses, read his book etc.), flipped my entire thinking about this. If you know Ramit, you know he's all about systems because he says, will power is a scarce asset. If you tell yourself you should, you probably never will. However, if you build a system around it, you will at least get 80% of the result without exhausting your willpower.

So right after I took one of Ramit's courses, I challenged myself with two things:

  • Workout at least once a week

  • Start a blog

But I hated working out. What could I do? Here's what I did:

  • I started with self-awareness. I observed what put me off working out - was it the exercise? The lack of banter? Boredom? Going out of the house? You know what I figured? I loved to exercise, and didn't really needs friends to work out with me. I loved stepping out of the house but I've a mind that gets easily bored. This was a big step forward - at least I understood what was stopping me!

  • Once I knew I had to solve for boredom while exercising, I started with music and the treadmill / listening to podcasts. This didn't work either. I wondered why. I went back to observing my mind. I realised that while I had solved for one thing, i.e. boredom, I had taken away the enjoyment I get out of the exercise itself. So I actually was telling myself, "I can go to the gym to listen to this podcast, or I could sit at home and listen to it." Guess which was easier?!

  • I wasn't going to give up this time. So, I made a list of all the exercises that I enjoyed. Most involved playing a sport, which required me to rely on friends. I didn't want to rely on anyone else's willpower either. So I narrowed down to 3 that I thought I'd enjoy / knew I enjoyed: swimming, rowing, and kickboxing.

  • With the rule of elimination, I eliminated swimming because I already used to swim competitively, and there was little I could learn, i.e. my mind wouldn't be engaged. I went for a rowing course for a few weeks but gave up since the boat club is about a mile from my home. I wouldn't let willpower compete against the temptation of going out with friends during the weekends. I was left with boxing.

  • I searched for boxing classes near home and luckily the gym near mine was running a couple of them. I signed up, went to the instructor and told him I wanted to be a regular. He said he'd been getting a few requests from a few other women and he'll see what he can do.

  • He started a ladies boxing class that he runs for us now and I rarely miss a class.

Why am I telling you this? Because we keep finding excuses to not prioritise what we want in life. But what would happen if you dug deeper and got to know yourself better?

In spite of the fact that I didn't have the money to spend on a dedicated Personal Trainer, didn't want to rely on friends, didn't want to hit the gym, I found a system that works to provide a personal trainer, "friends" to work out with and a gym to do it all in. All I had to do was put my intentions together and create a fail-proof system that works for me. Will it work for everybody? Absolutely not! But can you help yourself find such a system for yourself. A resounding yes!

I'll tell you about how I started this blog another time. But now I want to know from you - what is that one area of life you want to change? The one area that you know is a priority but you can't get to it. Let me know!

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