Countless people go to the gym nowadays, but are they all really going for the sole purpose of maintaining their fitness levels or are there ulterior motives behind this habitual activity? It seems that the growing obsession with going to the gym may be causing some negative health effects besides the well-known positive ones. Let’s delve deep into the gym scene and discover the real reasons people all over the world make use of one gym membership or another.
To lose weight
Starting with the obvious, most common reason people to go to the gym, losing weight is something almost everyone will try to do at some point in their lives. In order to shed the weight, people turn to the gym where they have all the facilities to help them reach their weight goal, mainly cardio machines and fitness classes.
Many people find themselves more motivated when they’re surrounded by other people who share their goals, or they have an instructor/personal trainer to inspire them. These positive aspects of the gym are what it was designed for, but it can be daunting or humiliating for some people to exercise publicly as they feel they can’t keep up with a class or will be judged for their poor performance. However, this element of exercise is difficult to avoid unless you’re exercising in the privacy of your home where you’re somewhat limited, so therefore the gym serves as an effective, positive tool for the purpose of losing weight.
To tone/build muscle
This motive to go to the gym is also highly popular in today’s pressurised body image society. Women strive for peachy bums and toned abs whilst men work towards large biceps and six packs. Building and toning muscles have great health benefits as it makes our bodies physically stronger, improving our abilities in other sports.
Some people take this aspect of the gym very seriously, becoming bodybuilders so that they can enter official competitions, work in the fitness industry or become a social media influencer. Whilst this may be their passion, there is always the possibility of becoming addicted to bodybuilding, running the risk of damaging your heart through too much heavy lifting or damaging your mental health due to comparisons to others around you.
Aside from the benefits of going to the gym in relation to muscle, the majority of bodybuilders/toners at the gym are motivated by body image rather than purely health, aiming to make themselves more attractive to themselves or others. The question is, should we be trying to change our bodies according to what society tells us is most attractive? If you have a perfectly healthy BMI, is a gym membership the best use of your money simply to conform to society’s idea of ‘the perfect body’? There is always the danger that you’ll never be satisfied with your body image no matter how hard you work at the gym, therefore developing an unhealthy obsession as opposed to accepting your body image and focusing on the important things in life.
To look for love interests
It may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about potential locations to meet a partner but a quality that many people seek in a potential girlfriend/boyfriend is that they look after themselves – evidently they do if they’re at the gym. A partner who works out can be very attractive, usually resulting in a desirable body, a lot of which is on show at the gym…so stop signing up to dating websites and sign up for the gym instead!
I’m sure many of you are guilty of really not working very hard at the gym due to being distracted by a hot girl/guy or purposefully timing your sessions to coincide with the routine of someone who’s caught your eye…Whilst this is all well and good in the dating world, it doesn’t exactly serve the original purpose of the gym which most people will be trying to achieve so try to avoid putting people off their work out and making them feel uncomfortable by watching them too obviously!
To keep up an appearance
Some people care more about what other people think than just doing what they want to do in life. These attention seeking people feel the need to document on social media every time they go to the gym just so that everyone knows they’re there. In reality, they probably stay about ten minutes (five of which are spent trying to take the perfect gym selfie), half-heartedly using a machine they know nothing about.
There are only two positive outcomes of this gym motive; one which benefits the gym, as they’re profiting from the paying customer who isn’t taking up space for others in the gym; and the other temporary feeling of gratification the gym-goer gets when they receive a positive reaction to their apparent gym session. On the other hand, these false gym-goers tend to irritate those around them whilst they miss out on genuine gym benefits, waste their money and time and get absorbed into the social presentation of their life.
To benefit mental health
Often overlooked, going to the gym has just as many mental health benefits as it does physical health benefits. Getting your endorphins flowing helps to clear the mind, ease stress and feel re-energised, enhancing your productivity for the day and lifting your mood. Setting, working towards and achieving goals is a great way to measure your progress and feel mentally good about what you achieve with regard to your fitness.
What’s more, participating in group classes builds up a sense of team spirit and mutual support, enabling you to make friends and really enjoy the exercise you’re doing. It’s extremely rare you’re going to feel mentally worse after a session at the gym so if you’re in a bad mood, go to the gym and if you’re in a good mood, go to the gym! If you have a particularly tough session or don’t achieve what you had in mind, you still went and you still worked hard!