Cancelling My Gym Membership Has Been the Best Thing For My Work-From-Home Routine

After being closed for almost half of the year because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, my gym reopened about a week or so ago. I was quick to hop in my car and drive on over there, but not to work out. I was on my way to cancel my membership.

There was a brief stint where I was living for the gym. I loved everything about it: the camaraderie, the atmosphere, and the promise of what it could help me achieve. I quickly became a regular, showing up four to five times a week. I got the point where I had "my elliptical" and knew what class instructors I liked or wished to avoid. My phone would even automatically connect to the gym's wifi — that's when you know it's real.

Over time, that excitement subsided after experimenting with different fitness classes and workout machines. I started dreading the gym, and working out became a chore, a hassle. I revisited my original reason for wanting to join a gym in the first place. What was it that I was hoping to achieve? Sure, it'd be nice to lose weight and build muscle, but I could do that with a combination of eating healthier and at-home workouts. Of course, that would take moving some furniture around, researching videos and tutorials, and maybe buying a mat and weights — all of which all takes time. Enter COVID-19. Being stuck inside, I had time to imagine what an at-home gym would look and feel like for me. And it's where I plan to get my sweat sesh on from now on.

Whoever gave at-home workouts the stereotype of being boring or repetitive is ludicrous. It's hard to even put into words just how many workout videos exist out there. (I mean this literally, because I've written articles recommending several different online workouts!) And there's not only an abundance, but an abundance of quality tutorials, too. (Serious props to all the certified trainers out there who are doing us a huge service.)

Unlike corporate gyms, my at-home workout space can feature workouts that would be considered a nontraditional or uncommon exercise at a gym, like ballet. Likewise, not all gyms offer the same classes or require you to sign up and pay a higher fee for specialties, like yoga or pilates. Or, the classes I actually want to take aren't at times that work for my schedule. At my home, none of this is an issue.

My relationship with fitness has improved immensely since starting to work out from home, but my favorite part is that my routine isn't dictated by a gym schedule. I don't have to plan my day around a specific spin class or sign in and schedule my workouts in advance as my gym requires these days. My work schedule is highly unpredictable. I can't schedule gym time a week or two in advance — I barely know what I'm doing 48 hours from now! Curating an easy, stress-free WFH routine that flows is crucial for my mental health. And working out from home means I can make my work a priority and, when time allows, fit in a good sweat.

And when I don't feel like squeezing into a compact sports bra and leggings? I don't feel guilty, because I'm not tied to a gym that's sucking $80 from my pocket every month. Now, the money I was shelling out to basically never step foot inside my gym is being used to fund things I actually love doing, like reading and cooking.

If you're like me in that your life needs balance and flexibility, I highly recommend taking the time to find workout videos you enjoy, invest in the equipment (a mat and kettlebell can get you far!), and take the plunge.