Why I Don’t Go To The Gym and 3 Reasons You Probably Don’t Need To Either

For a long while, I considered taking advantage of the discount a local gym offers my company. It was relatively cheap, close to work and I figured it would be a great way to build up the cross training portion of any race training I would be doing. For reasons I couldn’t put my finger on, I never could pull the trigger on joining the gym.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear John Pierre, trainer to Ellen DeGeneres, countless CEOs, musicians and other celebrities, give a talk and he made not going to the gym sound like a good thing. Pierre talked a lot more about fitness and nutrition than what I’ll cover here, but here are some of the take a ways:

Sitting all day is really bad for you

The idea that sitting for extended periods of time is bad for has been around for a little while now. John Pierre went so far as to say that it’s nearly as bad as regularly smoking cigarettes. The problem with gyms – as John Pierre sees it – is that you go from sitting all day at the office to sitting in your car to drive to the gym to sitting to do leg exercises or curls and you lay down to do other exercises like bench press. While you may be getting a workout in, you’re still tacking on an additional hour or so of sitting or laying down.

Pierre suggests sneaking in several small workouts throughout your day. For example, at the top of the hour, pull out your stretch band, stand up and doing ten curls. Or drop and give yourself 10-20 push ups. His rationale for this is that you break up your sitting, and you get a good workout in throughout the day. Think about it, if you do 20 push ups every hour and you work an eight-hour day, you’d be logging 160 push ups a day and it wouldn’t cost you any money and almost no time.

Busy runners don’t have time to go to the gym

Those are my words, not John Pierre’s.

All the same, if I’m implementing the idea of sneaking in some workouts during the work day and doing some cross training at home it’s still in line with his train of thought or philosophy.  Between my family, my job, running and writing, my time is at a premium, but I still have to find the time for to fit all of those things.Throwing the variables of having to account for the gym’s hours of operation, when I can make it to the gym and the logistics of getting to and from there are just more complications I can do without.

Running and cross training – along with a healthy diet –  can be enough

There are usually two-to-three pillars of any good half marathon or marathon training program. The actual running plan, some incarnation of what to eat at various stages of training and races, and a cross training component. Most of the training programs I’ve seen can be done with essentially the same tools John Pierre suggested – a stretch band, an exercise ball, maybe some dumb bells, and you’re own body. You still have to make the time commitment, but it’s much easier to do that when you’re sneaking in your workouts during the day or if you only have to make your way to your living room or basement.

Can you get great results as runner who frequents the gym? Sure, but to me it’s adding too many extra steps to your day to make it worth it – especially for a distance runner.





  1. I love getting expert validation of decisions I make!

    I don’t go to the gym. I’ve never enjoyed it, I don’t have the time to commit to actually driving there and back, and I feel like I get a much better workout outside (if I get tired, I can hop off the treadmill. If I walk/run out 2/3/4 miles from home, I have to get back somehow). It’s much easier to do some 30 Day Shred, or crunches and planks or whatever, when I have a free moment on a non-run day. I could probably benefit from some of the equipment at a real gym, but my goal is fitness, not perfection, and I’m happy with that.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I sometimes go to my office gym if it’s rainy or to do some light cardio. I also use my office gym if I want to run before work around my office instead of running around my house. But I agree that no one really NEEDS a gym!

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