- I will conquer the perfect body
That is listed among the main reasons for losing members at gyms. He or she will enroll after digesting gigabytes of advertisement (and indoctrination) about some ideal shape. That is what I call “formolatry” – the idolatry of an unhuman shape. It doesn’t exist, it has never existed and it is the product of image treatment. Or it does exist in somebody that is genetically so off the chart that it doesn’t actually represent anything. Usually, the “perfect body” is a computer treated image of an actual human body so that the resulting picture contains the ideal measurements of items that are culturally valued and, at the same time, targeted by the beauty industry.
In any instance, you will fail because anyone will.
It sounds intuitive, but it is not. Ask any experienced coach and they will have stories to tell about new gym members who bring a print of a heavily phoshopped picture of a girl and tell him she wants that body. It is an awkward moment, to say the least.
Boys usually look at deodorant or underwear models as their ideal body (which are also heavily photoshopped).
In a few months, the member (you!) will realize that he or she remains as far from that ideal body as when they started their membership. She will feel depressed because of what she can only interpret as her failure. Eventually, she will quit.
- My sexual life will improve because I’ll be jacked / slim and have a nice ass
Among males, that is slightly more common among young men than older guys, but not that much. The alpha male myth (any biologist will repress laughter when asked about the existence of this specific biological hierarchy among humans) is resilient and it is sold as a man’s body image. The alpha male – for some weird reason pictured as the financially successful, highly consumerist, tanned (??), jacked guy – will attract the “hot chicks”.
Do yourself a favor: study basic genetics before letting yourself be a victim of this sort of scientifically unsubstantiated set of claims. First: if “alphaness” existed even in this simple form (and not just a metaphor), it would express itself in the individual in behavior, cognition and last of all, form. Second: in order for the gene to spread in the species, an alpha female should be the choice of the hypothetical alpha male for sex (reproduction!), and she is not the hot, stupid looking blond in porn magazines. She is the aggressive, high libido, cognitively acute female that will respond to similar traits in males. In other words, precisely the females that intimidate insecure males.
No, your sex life will not improve if you are jacked. Your sex life will improve if you change your perspective about the choice of sexual partners and, most of all, understand what you need in terms of a relationship.
In females, this behavior is sadly highly frequent among older women, peaking in their forties. That is when many social factors contribute to an emphasis in their insecurities concerning their sexual attractiveness. Topping them all is the beauty industry’s subtext to all their media: “young is sexy – old is not”. Top models can be as young as 14 or 15 years old, over sexualized through makeup, posing and presented as adult females (which they are not).
A woman with this mindset will join a gym unconsciously seeking that 15 year old look and there is nobody (meaning an institution or effective social agent) to help her regain control over the process of maturing, appreciating each different stage with its own beauty standards.
The good news to all, but one most media are hardly willing to advertise, is that your sexual life will improve if you take training seriously because the metabolic transformations it will promote are conducive to a higher libido, better mood and a higher self-esteem.
- I will lose weight in the first weeks
Yes you will. But unfortunately, you won’t be able to see that in the mirror unless you are also dieting very strictly. The healthy diet is highly individualized and should represent an optimal manner of delivering nutrients to your body according to its needs at each time or period. That means it changes from time to time and it should be a habit. Adopting a new diet is only effective if it is coupled to adopting a conscious or proactive attitude towards eating. A diet that promotes rapid weight loss is, by definition, unhealthy and really hard to accomplish. But expecting such rapid weight loss from physical activity alone is not unhealthy: it is unrealistic. It simply will not happen. And that is the second highest reason for quitting the gym: the mirror and the scale both tell you that you did not lose those many pounds you expected to in the first weeks. Sadly, not few “miraculous” exercise programs sell precisely that. In my opinion, there should be some sort of possible legal action against people or institutions who do that sort of advertisement, since they manipulate sensitive aspects of the person’s identity.
Bottom line is that joining a gym for quick weight loss is a wrong reason.
- It will make my afternoon less boring
It might. Especially if there are “fun” dance-based classes. In time, though, they, too, will become boring. Let me put it this way: you are trying to take an aspirin to control the headache produced by an aneurism. Not only it will not control the symptom to satisfaction, the cause is serious and will keep evolving. Your life is boring concerning your relation to your body because you have unlearned to understand yourself AS your body. Therefore, you seek entertainment where you should be looking for integration. You are bored because you can’t generate meaning in your life. That is only expected if you are alienated from yourself. The gym is only a space full of equipment. Inside the gym, you may also find some professionals that may help you in the very hard task of re-integrating yourself, using that equipment, in that space.
But if you go to the gym with the passive attitude of “entertain me”, then you are on your way to failure. Not only that, but on a fast race towards crashing against meaninglessness.
- I will show them who’s strong here
That is pretty much a young male attitude, but it is more and more seen among middle aged men as well. The need to show other gym members, whose reasons to be there have nothing to do with you, that you are stronger than they are is something you must be conscious of. Because if this is the case, you are hurting from very low self-esteem, from being systematically abused or some other serious factor that generated a pathological pattern. Strength is something every human being has. Strength is, before anything else, RELATIVE – that is why there are so many forms of calculating relative strength. It is relative to sex, age, anthropometric variables, bodyweight and lean mass composition. Someone will always be stronger than someone else. To make things even more complicated, there is a wide variety of strength manifestations. Roughly, every human movement contains one.
Strength athletes compete in very well defined conditions where these items are controlled and only one variable is measured.
Bottom line is: by benching at maximal or sub-maximal strength levels, you will not show anybody you are stronger than anybody else. The only thing you may accomplish is to get seriously hurt.
- I’ll have a chance to wear all the sexy gymwear that I bought
Seriously? Why don’t you first visit a gym and check if there is some space or situation where the focus is appreciating gymwear? You will probably see a few girls dressed and made up with that in mind: it will be obvious by the way they look and act, avoiding physical exertion. You will also notice that they are unwelcome precisely where they and you expect to be noticed and, more than that, to be sexually appreciated for all the dressing up and making up you did. That is seriously frustrating. It can help hurt your self-esteem to a level you are not expecting. It is perfectly ok to enjoy looking good, show up in nice clothes, jewelry and make-up. Only, not at the gym. You have several other places and occasions to wear sexy clothes: do choose them instead. If your looks are that important to you, and this is ok and healthy, work out seriously and save your money. Instead of expensive gymwear, buy good equipment, like wrist wraps (ask one of the boys you want to impress to teach you to actually bench, for example: he will be thrilled to help you and even more thrilled if he manages to improve your performance). I’m trying to come up with something you need to spend your money on for a good workout but honestly, even after years of competitive lifting, all I could come up were wrist wraps, which are not expensive at all. You can work out on your pijamas: if your form is good and you are focused, you will get results, feel good about them, and may even impress some of the guys that wouldn’t even look at you because of your expensive sexy gymwear.
- I’ll find some fun classes because I hate the weight room
I understand you may hate the weight room. For me, there is hardly anything more boring than guided movement machines. However, the weight room in a decent gym is a magical place with hidden treasures. You are already depressed, looking at being entertained at the best, since your doctor told you that you needed to work out because of your heart condition, your stress levels, your sugar levels, your spine, or whatever is very bad with you due to inactivity and bad eating habits. Instead of heading to the gym as a lamb to sacrifice, read a little about some weird things like bodyweight training, weightlifting, powerlifting, kettlebell training, odd object training and keep in mind that among all these people you see doing incredible feats of strength on youtube, some were just like you not long ago. Actually, some were much worse, had hit rock bottom, and were saved by finding their way to their own Inner Strength at the weight room, in a solitary, mysterious and amazing path that only you can tred. I am one of them.