There was a time when went to the gym.

A lot.

Exclusively, in fact. If I couldn’t get to the gym, I didn’t get my workout done. I thought it was necessary to be in a gym to get results and that a good workout required you to be in a health club or weight lifting room of some sort, with all kinds of fancy-pants machines and other equipment.

My how things change.

Most of my current training happens either at the park, the back room where we have the Nashville Kettlebell Bootcamp classes or in and around the mighty Shed of Strength, which is situated in my backyard. Even better is the simplicity of the equipment: kettlebells, a pullup bar, a barbell, assorted grip devices, a few rubber bands. I also have a set of gymnastic rings and a couple of sandbags.

It’s crazy when I think about it… the overall quality of my life (not just my strength and fitness) began to improve dramatically when I stopped going to the gym.

I am stronger, have better endurance than ever. But even more than that, I am happier than ever and having the time of my life, teaching people, running classes and doing all the stuff I do. I am the American dream!

Now, I don’t mean to imply that not attending the gym anymore was the only reason for the dramatic turn of events in my life, but it is obvious to me the sheer act of breaking from the norm and NOT doing what everyone else does has set me on a distinct path of success- the road less taken if you will.

After thinking about it, I came up with Six Reasons the Gym SUCKS:

1.) Everyone else is going to the gym. And they suck.
Did you ever notice that when you look around the gym, everybody is doing the same thing? Like so many sheep, mindlessly plodding away with the misinformation from fitness magazines. People just go to the gym and do whatever everybody else is doing.

I am sure you have seen the women spending hours at a time on ellipticals, bikes, and treadmills- sadly getting nowhere fast. Listen up ladies- you NEED to start doing some resistance training and cut those cardio sessions down to 20 minutes of intense interval training to get rid of the hip, thigh, and belly fat that is spilling out of your jeans.

And then there are also those wanna-be meathead guys trying to build their mirror muscles (abs, chest, biceps) with the Mr. Gargantuous (professional bodybuilder) routine and super supplement. “I switched my routine up from 4 sets of 10 to 5 sets of 8. Muscle confusion!”

Did you notice that you are exactly the same as you were a year ago? It ain’t the muscle that’s confused, son.

2.) No sunshine sucks.
I am still trying to wrap my cerebellum around the act of driving to a building, parking your car, going inside and getting on a machine to walk for 30-45 minutes. Get outside! If you want to walk, walk around the block, go to the park, whatever, but please stop your hamster wheel!

3.) Gym Memberships suck.
Paying money for a place to work out isn’t a bad thing, but the way gyms set up their business model is designed to sell you a membership, not get you the results you want. If you want personal guidance or a program, you have to pay extra.

4.) Machines suck.
They lock you in to a path that is not a natural movement. I don’t care if it is “state of the art”, if it is not a movement that you use in everyday life, it could be more effective. Plus, do you really want to be sitting in some dudes sweaty butt print?

Machines force you to create a dependence on them and the gym. If you are used to using machines, you feel lost if you travel and can’t access the same equipment. In most cases, people figure “what the hell, I’ll just take some time off until I get back home since I don’t have any gym access out here.” Next thing you know it is 6 months later and you have gained 12lbs.

5.) The music sucks
Most of the time, the music in the gym makes me want to throw up. I don’t know which is worse- an endless loop of the Rocky IV soundtrack or Coldplay, but neither one of them works to get me gassed up for a workout.

6.) “Personal Trainers” suck.
OK, not all personal trainers suck, I know a lot of very good personal trainers, but I consider them to be coaches or instructors, not trainers. I have said it before: You train a dog not to pee on your rug, you coach or teach a person to reach a physical goal.

When you go to the typical gym for personal training, you enter a factory. They don’t really care if your reach your goals, nor do they have the desire to build a lasting relationship with you. They need to hit their quota- and YOU are just another number for them.

With no clue about physiology or effective program design, many personal trainers are ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. I know of trainers who get their routines for clients from the current muscle magazine!

If you are a “personal trainer” and you put a client on a treadmill during the time they have paid you for, you are stealing that person’s money and violating their trust. If you take offense to this, you are probably one of the sucky trainers. Prove me wrong.

And while I am at it- why this need for the one-hour workout? Where the hell did that come from? I’ll tell you where- it’s just a default time to maintain an easy appointment schedule that most health clubs have borrowed from other businesses. Businesses that have nothing to do with fitness.

If you need the support and motivation of a workout buddy or don’t want to work out on your own, the typical gym falls WAY short in providing a results-based, cost-effective solution. So how do you get in the best shape of your life if it isn’t by joining a gym?

Find a fitness boot camp ( like the Nashville Kettlebell Bootcamp) in your area that creates a fit community- a culture of success. It’s like a support group of like-minded people focused on success. You become like the people who surround you. I know a bunch of great boot camp and kettlebell instructors all over the world- people that I do business coaching for that can get you better results for less than a third the cost of typical personal training rates.

Get out of the gym. Bust out of your comfort zone. Live it up!

Rock on!