A few months ago I opted out of my 24 Hour Fitness membership because I wanted to save money in order to try out the fancy kettlebell gym in my neighborhood. After about three months I quit, for a couple of different reasons.
I have to preface my explanations of why I quit by saying that the Skogg gym, formerly known as Spinach gym is an awesome place, and I recommend it to anyone (although I think my favorite thing about not going there anymore is that I have to have far less conversations explaining their choice in name choice, which I still don’t really understand myself). Everyone that works there seems really knowledgeable and is eager to help out newcomers or anyone that needs a hand. They have classes going on all day so it’s easy to find a time that works and you always have instruction. Small classes became rarer the longer I went, as they started getting busier, but still there were some days when I would go and share an instructor with just one or two other people, getting near-private instruction.
Doing kettlebell itself was new, fun, and really effective in building up a lot of muscle groups that I had never really worked on before. I got a lot stronger, really quickly. I usually get really bored by weights, but I was able to keep going with kettlebell a lot more often and a lot longer than with most weight workouts. For most of my membership, I went at least four times a week, making the steep monthly charge of $150 more or less worth it. However, eventually I found myself going less than three or four times a week, at which point I quit immediately, because I can’t afford $150 a month for something I’m not using.
Which brings me back to my reasons for quitting. One: While kettlebell was a lot less boring than most weight workouts, and the fact that it held my attention for over three months is admirable, I did eventually get bored. The workouts were varied, but not that varied. They were different day to day, but if I went every other day I sometimes found myself getting the same exact workout. If I missed the days where we did circuits, we did almost nothing but just swing the kettlebell. They also claimed that kettlebell was a good whole body workout, but I rarely felt anything in my calves or abs, and seldom in much of my legs at all.
Reason two: The 60 Day Challenge. This was an experiment I decided to try, and can’t decide if I’m glad I did or not. Basically it’s a program they offer where you pay $99 (on top of your membership) and go to weekly classes where you get instructed in nutrition, your weight and body fat is tracked, you’re given a very strict diet to follow that bans all sugar, alcohol, and most carbs, and you agree to to to at least four kettlebell classes a week. The first day we were given the opportunity to tell them about what we’d like to accomplish with this challenge, and they also took down all our membership. The following week we were given meal plans. While I’m not quite down to elite-athlete level body fat at this time, my goals didn’t really revolve around weight loss. Even so, I was assigned the diet designed primarily for women who wanted to lose a lot of weight. Within the first two weeks I lost six pounds, and got concerned that it was too extreme. I told them this, and they bumped me up to the next diet plan that included calories, and this was slightly better. But it was still a radically different diet than what I’m used to, and I was feeling lethargic and light-headed a lot, which made trying to train hard really difficult.
So then I went through what millions of others have, during attempts to be on a diet like this. I broke down and ate all kinds of things I wasn’t supposed to, “for just one day,” but couldn’t stop there. In the next two weeks I gained eight pounds, and am just now getting to a point where I feel like I’m eating normally again and back at my original weight.
I’ve never tried a diet like this before, and I was completely blindsided by my body’s cravings and responses to food after restricting it so badly. I’ve heard about diets always failing, but I never really grasped why. The good people of Skogg gym seemed very upbeat and encouraging about the idea that if you followed their diet then you would no longer want to eat these things after a couple of weeks, and that you’d probably want to adopt this lifestyle permanently. They did not tell me what would happen if I did decide to let myself eat anything for a day, or how hard it would be to re-regulate my eating patterns. I stuck to the diet strictly for over two weeks, and my cravings only intensified. Once I ate the forbidden things again, I couldn’t monitor how much I had. I felt ill-prepared for the challenge, and definitely did not accomplish what I had hoped.
I didn’t go every week either – a lot of people didn’t. The program is set-up to be great for the few that are able to do everything they’re supposed to, but if you start slipping, it’s embarrassing to go back and get weighed. Sometimes I did go when I knew I’d had a bad week, but the instruction wasn’t really that helpful or motivating, mostly just a brief explanation of how some vitamin supplements could be good for you.
I only stuck around the gym for a couple weeks after the challenge ended, bored of the workouts and discouraged by the 60 Day Challenge. The Challenge didn’t end well for me, but it was a good personal lesson in why diets are terrible, and has taught me to never do one again. Eating normally/generally healthy shouldn’t be that hard, and usually isn’t for me.
That was a couple of months ago now. Recently I decided to move out of my apartment complex which has a gym, but this brought on the appalling realization that I was about to be a member at only one gym. And so I once again joined 24 Hour Fitness. The first thing I did was go try to get on the elliptical and immediately trip on it and scrape my leg.
I’ve had similar experiences with diets. Hours and hours of serious exercise every week, followed by lots of eating, is the only real way to look like a muscular Skeletor, which is the ultimate aim of the UHB lifestyle.
It’s true, the only way to get a UHB is with insane amounts of physical activity and lots and lots of blogging.