Everyone has some sort of system to keep themselves in shape, but keeping yourself in the habit of regular exercise can be just as rewarding and fun as it can be difficult, annoying or demanding.

One realisation I have had about working out is that there is one thing above anything else that I value. That thing is convenience, for one I love living close to my gym. It wasn’t really a consideration when I chose this place but being able to walk to my gym within less than 5 minutes is a huge motivator. I have some weights at home and there is a lot of exercises you can do at home anyway, but actually going to the gym just puts me into a flow state that I can’t achieve at home. Previously I’d still often just accept not having this simply because I didn’t actually want to make the trek to the gym. Now, there is rarely a point for me to work out at home, popping over is so easy that I just always end up doing it.

Secondly, I went to the gym for the first time when I was ~16 years old (over 10 years ago now.. jeez) and since then I have been very on and off with actually going. Sometimes I wouldn’t go at all for a few years, for example when moving out for my undergrad etc. My relationship and expectations with exercising is therefore a bit all over the place. I have had friends and gone to work out with people on all ends of the spectrum who either went the straight up body builder route or quit almost straight away. Especially in youth there probably was a lot of not-so-great advice.

For a long time my assumption with working out was that you should pretty much always go as hard as possible, and exert yourself to get the maximum out of the exercise you are doing. Build as much muscle as you can, any way possible. This rings especially true if you have a long travel time to maximise that initial time investment.

What I used to do is fairly long workouts in the range of 90-120+ minutes. But what that exertion did was that it didn’t really leave me satisfied to break myself down like that. Instead of feeling good about the work, I was super tired and sometimes even feeling unwell afterwards. Head spinning or slight feeling of sickness also wasn’t uncommon. And at some point I just realised I don’t have to do that, I can do short and intense workouts and then just enjoy the rest of my day. Nowadays I much much prefer shorter, more frequent workouts. I often go for just about 45 minute sessions now.

This may not be optimal, to be honest, I don’t care. I use the gym as a means to stay relatively fit, and also as a way to check out of my day-to-day and just lift some weights. Some days this also really bolsters my mental health. I don’t chase records, I don’t ego lift, I do my best to stay in form and keep myself from getting injured. While some might find that boring, it really works for me. With that come other non-optimal things I do, I don’t drink protein shakes or take any supplements. Through my cooking I maintain a pretty balanced diet almost automatically and at that point whatever nutrients or protein I get from that is what I get.

I think this is where my entire viewpoint on exercise weaves together. I want working out / the gym to be a positive, healthy addition to my life. At no point do I want to change my habits (wants or needs) to adjust for this. I live my life and the gym gets added on simply as an improvement, something that doesn’t require maintenance or thought. I don’t mean this to be advice, or preachy in any way. I fully understand and am happy for people who do choose to make it a bigger part of their lives. However, I often felt like I almost had to hide that I don‘t consider it like that. Like as if when you don’t take it seriously it isn’t a „valid“ way to exercise.

It took me a long time to figure out that the best way to do it is the way that makes me personally happy, and which fits best with how I want to live my life. As I don’t see this sentiment out there a lot I wanted to share it as an anecdote.