How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm?

Two weeks ago we made an error. A minor one, but one with long-lasting ramifications.

We accepted a 3-day trial to a local “supergym”. For three days we played with shiny new machines. We experienced cardio with embedded televisions and WiFi. There were group classes ranging from spinning to TRX to yoga. After it was all over we were able to hang out in a hot tub, steam room, and sauna.

Then, on Day 4, we headed back to our neighborhood mini-gym.

It reminded me of the old post-World War I song: “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm After They’ve Seen Paree?” (Judy Garland version linked here.)

Rapid Deceleration

Heading back to the local gym felt like jumping off a bullet train into a wall of Jello. The cardio machines were now boring. All the cool new hi-tech equipment we had been doing resistance work on was gone. Instead of a pool, hot tub and sauna, our post-workout options were a couple of coin-operated massage chairs.

But, hey, they had free bagels, so there was that.

The next day, we found an excuse to not go. The following day our errands got away from us and we didn’t head back. By the following Monday, our gym attendance record was absolutely shredded. Despite the fact that we needed to be doing the work, we were no longer terrifically interested.

What Is My Motivation?

We were finally able to overcome our disappointment and head back into the trenches after 5 days of non-attendance. Interestingly, the several days off led to some decent strength gains on just about all our resistance work, so that was an unexpected benefit. But the gains were still not enough to offset our desire to be in a different setting. “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube,” my grandmother used to say, “there is no way to get it back in.”

I found myself having to no longer focus on reps and gains during the workout. Instead, I transferred my mental energy to pushing through the workout in the name of a different goal. My cardio goals were now to complete 3.1 miles a day. My strength goals were now to get close to body weight max reps on my multiple-muscle lifts, to support our upcoming return visit to Stone Age.

In short, the gym itself was suddenly no longer the experience I was looking forward to. I was now looking past the gym, ahead to other upcoming goals. The gym was now just the work I needed to do to get there.

This is probably acceptable thinking, for someone who has long-term goals to reach. But what happens to the person who has arrived at maintenance? That person simply wants to have a variety of things to do in their exercise regimen. Doing the same thing over and over is dangerous. That way lies boredom and burnout.

Creating Your Own Supergym

So, the solution for those of us who can’t afford the one-stop shopping of a supergym? Do it yourself.

We’ve begun walking to and from the local gym, taking different routes to add variety. In our neighborhood is a community center that has fitness classes. We’ve hit the local pool. And, for days when we don’t make it to the gym, we’ve added home-based exercise options. Lor has chosen some yoga video series, I have stuck with the Fitstar app.

And, yes, we’ve also begun to start re-budgeting to attend the one-stop shop we got to try out for free. But waiting until we can afford it (which may mean “never”) and slacking off in the meantime is just not an option.

If we can’t afford to buy variety, we are going to have to create it for ourselves.

Still Missing The Hot Tub,



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