Why I Quit The Gym And Bought A Home Treadmill Instead
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.
So here goes:
My name is Henry and I don't go to the gym enough.
Despite paying - let's just say in excess of £45/month - for my membership, I probably don't even manage to get there once a week!
At first I felt like I was letting myself down by not going as often as I ought to (especially considering how expensive it is!) but then I started to think about it and realised that actually, I just don't like the gym environment.
Finding a time when it is not packed to the rafters is like finding a needle among a dozen haystacks.
Think about it, everybody who is a member of a gym in Central London or the City works there. Therefore, they all more or less start, lunch, and leave at the same time, day in day out. And if you are working, it means you have very limited time windows in which to use the gym. It all ends up in a horrendous lunchtime crush, where it feels more like cattle being herded than a premium gym experience.
Not to mention the other clientele. For some reason, people think that once they are in shape they have a pass to be as rude and impatient as they like to every other person in the gym. As if they have some divine right to be there, that their presence is more important than yours.
Anyone who has been to a gym will know that feeling you get when you're trying to finish a set on a machine, and there is some grumpy pumped up idiot watching, arms crossed, impatience emanating from their every pore, giving you dirty looks. It's like borderline bullying, making you feel as uncomfortable as possible until you leave.
I've been into running for years, but living in London and working stupidly long hours, come the end of the working day I just want to go home. I do manage to fit in some smaller runs on the weekend, but then I have so much other stuff to do that I feel guilty prioritizing my running over other important things, like my wife's happiness for instance!
The weekend is precious and priceless. We both work full time so we use the weekend to make up for everything we didn't do together in the week.
Sometimes running before work is nice, but again you only have so much energy and at 34 I can already feel it starting to dwindle away.
And before you even ask, no I am not one of those selfish so-and-so's who decides the best time to go running is in the centre of London. At lunchtime. That has always blown my mind, how people put themselves through the rigmorale of running through inpenetrable crowds of angry office workers trying to get to Pret and back as quickly as possible.
Then you obviously have to factor in the great British weather into all this. I actually ended up twisting my ankle quite badly a couple of years ago slipping on some wet leaves when out on an early morning circuit.
In case you hand't noticed, England and the rain seem to go hand in hand, which can impact on your running regime in a number of ways, notably putting you off going running altogether! The thought of being soaked through with wet feet, then having a puddle of dirty water splashed over you by passing cars does not fill me with glee!
I know what you're thinking:
If it's that bad, why didn't you just buy a running machine months ago?!
I suppose it's a combination of reasons, but one of them comes down to a sense of defeat. I felt like by buying a treadmill, I was accepting that the gym and the elements had beaten me, and it was the last act of a desperate man. The other major factor was the cost and the amount it would actually benefit me.
Back in the day my parents had an exercise bike which sat dormant for years on end, but they still never got rid of it. It must have been a similar thing, they didn't want to throw it away and admit they were too lazy to use it!
Also, unsurprisingly given I live in London and I am far from a millionaire, space in my house is at a premium to say the very least! You would struggle to swing a cat without clearing countless shelves and surfaces in the process.
But in the end, my wife had had enough of my moaning so more or less dragged me onto Amazon by the scruff of my neck, and demanded I hurry up, commit, and purchase myself a home treadmill. I literally had no idea where to start, but because space is so limited, it seemed like it would have to be a folding treadmill.
Obviously Amazon is review led, so I put my trust in the other customers and let them (and the price) guide me in my decision making process. In the end I settled for one from a company called JTX, on the basis that according to the reviews it actually did fold flat and had a very small footprint. In my head, this just meant once the novelty wears off, or it turns out to be a rubbish piece of kit, at least it wouldn't take up too much room in my cluttered little castle!
If my house was in a better state I would upload some images to show it in situe, but to be honest I am embarrassed by how messy everything is and do not feel like exposing my domestic disorganisation for all the internet to see!
Admittedly I don't have anything to compare it to because I have only ever used large treadmills in the gym, or else simply gone for an al fresco run, but in my humble opinion this treadmill is absolutely brilliant. And, crucially, it is like Ronseal: it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a slimline treadmill and it DOES actually fold flat.
The best part of having something like this at home is you can use it as and when you want, even naked if you so choose! Plus you never have to wait in line, or rush back to work because you were trying to squeeze in a work out on your lunch break. It might not have been super cheap, but I use it a lot more than I ever used my gym membership; it feels like it has paid for itself already.
It's been around 4 months since I bought it, and I use it at least 3 times a week - far more than even in my most motivated imaginings! And perhaps more importantly, I've not once had any whistful thoughts about the gym. It is like finally breaking up with someone when you are in a bad relationship; the second you've done it, you think "why didn't I just do this months ago!".
I do still go for the occasional outdoor run, but it feels more like a treat than just a method to stay fit. It's been so good not having to plan my days so meticulously to try and fit everything in, and to have to sacrifice one activity for another.
Who knows, maybe this is the first step in creating an entire home gym? Whatever the weather, I doubt it will ever end up like my parents exercise bike: proof that I once cared about keeping fit, even if I don't do it anymore!