In the last 12 years I have probably been to a commercial gym twice.
I just hate the environment.
I have always been a grumpy old man, who prefers his own company.
The gym for me is an escape. A place to be alone with my thoughts.
- To clear my head
- To relieve stress
- Unleash some aggression
- And achieve goals
Just recently my wife purchased a gym membership for me even though I have a ton of equipment.
Why you may ask?
Well it was so I get out of the house and have some “me time”
What a great wife.
You see since #2 was born my wife had struggled with PND.
So for the last 16 months I have tried to be superdad.
I would get home from work, and take both kids off my wife’s hands, giving her a much deserved break.
Problem was I was running myself into the ground.
My job (working in disability) is extremely draining at times, sucking me of all my patience.
Patience that I should be exhibiting with my kids.
It’s like an energy bar in a video game. It gets drained at work.
By the time I get home that bar is flashing red, running on empty and I am ready to explode.
And my poor kids get the wrath.
All it takes is my 4 year old boy being fussy with his dinner to set me off!
I was trying to be superdad but it was turning me into a shit head dad.
I would lose my temper, overreacting at the smallest things.
It was just getting worse and worse.
I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. Completely overwhelmed.
Not a second to myself.
My “ME TIME” is training.
But even then I would feel guilty.
I regularly put training on the back burner as I felt bad getting home and training when my wife was counting down the minutes until I got home to get a break…
…and Chael is so energetic and excited when I get home to play with me.
The times I would train I’d open the garage and between sets go and jump on the trampoline with him.
Even then, right in the middle of a ball busting set he would be yelling…
“Dad! Dad! Come play with me!”
Losing all my concentration.
Hence the gym membership gift.
My wife realized I just needed to get out of the house.
Well I cancelled it after going just once!
The second I walked in there I just got that eery feeling.
It snapped me straight back into remembering..
“This is why I don’t go to a gym!”
… The smell, the look, the feel…
… The cold, sterile environment.
… The awkward silence.
… Everyone training alone.
… The weird glares from others.
… People filled with insecurities
… No camaraderie, help or fun going on whatsoever!
Even the shiny equipment annoyed me. It’s like it didn’t have character.
I have always admired reading and looking at the old school magazines of guys training in their basement dungeons, with rusted old weights, training alone.
They didn’t need air conditoning, loud music or mirrors to impress other people.
They didn’t need motivation. They got in there and did the work, alone, without seeking attention or recognition.
I guess I consider myself old school, a throwback.
So I felt like a fish out of water.
Now I get a good ol laugh watching gym fails. I am so far removed from the scene though I figured that they would be the exception and not the norm.
Well my first time there in 12 years and in 1 hour I saw terrible form, made up exercises and other tomfoolery.
I saw 2 skinny young teenagers dumbbell pressing next to me doing half reps with weight way too heavy for them.
An old fit looking bugger in his late 50s/ 60s was dumbbell pressing 40kg and I swear to god was not lowering the dumbells more than 6 inches.
Can anyone say snap city?
And the rudeness…
There were 3 benches in front of the dumbbell rack.
2 skinny kids on the left.
Old guy in the middle.
Me on the right.
I politely waited for the kids to finish their set to grab my dumbells in front of them.
The old fella is just standing there.
As soon as I lay back to start my set, he decides to start as well almost clunking his weights into mine!
He wasn’t doing anything for 5 minutes!
And another thing…
A UFC fight was on so I tried making some friendly small talk.
I got no response, only confused looks from the old bloke and the kids.
It was like I had broken an unwritten law or something!
Like talking in the library.
It’s not like they were preoccupied with their training as they were fucking around.
So after one session, I quit.
Transferred the membership over to my wife who is doing the yoga and Pilates classes.
I feel much more at home with my rusty weights in my messy garage, my lab and pug laying in there and my kids joining in.
Some of my fondest training memories happened in my garage gym. When mates would come around.
… We would challenge each other
… Bust each others balls
… and just talk shit.
We would end up training for 2-3 hours, spending more time laughing and chatting, than training.
Afterward we would order a pizza or have a BBQ. The camaraderie, fun and positive atmosphere was unmatched.
Camaraderie. Whats missing in gyms today
And despite feeling bad for training instead of spending time with my kids, I feel that they should see their dad leading a strong lifestyle.
- Fighting with the weights.
- Training for strength, health and athleticism.
- Making it a way of life.
- Exhibiting discipline, patience and consistency.
- Striving for constant improvement.
- Showing them to be self-motivated, not relying on others to get shit done for you.
In high school I used to get up between 3.30am-5am every morning before school to train. I am in no way EVER going to push Chael to do that.
However I would love for him to have that same drive, in anything in life.
And what better way than to lead by example.
If you feel the same as me, I suggest scouring the ebays and gumtrees and start collecting some used equipment.
Having a home gym is one of the best investments you can make.
As always thanks for reading,