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Why I'll never go back to the gym: The case for at-home workouts forever

I am officially "one of those people" who talks about how much they love their spin bike.
I'm a better friend, wife and daughter, because consistently working out gives me a mental release that I'm not unloading on anyone else.
I'm a better friend, wife and daughter, because consistently working out gives me a mental release that I'm not unloading on anyone else.Kait Hanson
/ Source: TMRW

I'll never forget the first time I saw the now-viral Peloton commercial where the husband gifts his wife a spin bike for Christmas. I remember thinking to myself, "I really hope my husband doesn't gift me workout equipment this holiday."

Why would I want to workout at home? I had free access to a military gym and affordable fitness classes, thanks to my husband's job. We enjoyed boxing and spinning together occasionally as well as the weights and other machines our gym provided. We were far from what I'd consider "gym rats," but it provided a much-needed break for someone like me who works from home all day.

It's important to note that my husband and I share a car (a financial and environmental choice), so gym sessions had to be methodically planned around his job, but it was always worth it for the mental respite.

Fast-forward to the pandemic and we found ourselves amid some of the tightest restrictions in the country in Hawaii. There was no gym access or classes to take and wearing a mask to run outside felt suffocating in the island heat.

Living in Hawaii is amazing, but I wouldn't want to run outside while wearing a mask in the island heat.

I remember sitting at my desk during the first week of April feeling restless, uninspired and unsure why, when it finally dawned on me that I hadn't been working out consistently.

I had previously supplemented my workouts with free fitness classes on YouTube, so that was my initial go-to, but I lacked the motivation to hit play. I'd lay on the floor and stare at my computer instead.

My mental health plummeted as I struggled to find the enthusiasm to move my body.

By May, I noticed more and more people posting about their at-home spin bikes. Out of curiosity, I took a look at the price of a Peloton and the cost to ship it to Hawaii, and quickly exited the screen. "That's outrageous," I thought to myself.

By that point, I had joined an online barre class that my local studio was offering for a highly reduced price. Taking classes at this boutique gym would not have crossed my mind in the "before times," due to both logistics and price, but I had nothing to lose. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed every class and how energizing it was. And since I needed to sign up for classes at set streaming times, it helped keep me accountable.

Then, during late summer 2020, I miscarried and my mental health began to spiral once again. I was snappy, depressed and not sleeping well. I knew I needed to make a change, but I felt so stuck.

My husband and I had loosely discussed buying a Peloton since we both love spinning, but it felt like such a huge investment. Would we really get our money's worth? At the time, the company was offering free use of the app for a limited amount of time, so I poked around a little bit.

I felt a little naive once I realized that the app is far more than spin classes and offers everything from yoga and stretching to HIIT and sleep meditation. What immediately caught my attention was how there seemed to be an instructor that resonated with me for various workouts, like when I needed an extra pep talk or a real kick in the butt. I liked how the app tracked all my workouts and even awarded badges at certain milestones to satiate my competitive side.

To my shock, a Peloton showed up for my birthday. An even bigger surprise is that I have rarely missed a day on it since it arrived, which is more than I can say about any previous gym or fitness class experience.

Every single day before starting work, I log onto my app and find a class that motivates me and, because it's on demand, I can make it fit my schedule in both length and time. Now I feel more motivated to take a casual stroll around my neighborhood with my dogs, not a high-intensity power walk or run, knowing I am able to squeeze in a workout later in the day. Past experience tells me that even 10 minutes will make me feel the burn from my at-home mat, and that is enough for me.

And while I've gotten physically stronger riding my bike, the real gains have all been mental. The stress of "When am I going to work out today?" and "How do I find time to go to the gym with a busy work schedule?" have been completely eliminated. I'm a better friend, wife and daughter, because consistently working out gives me a mental release that I'm not unloading on anyone else.

So while I may periodically meet a friend at the gym for an intensive morning workout routine before brunch or share a yoga session with my mom, most days you'll find me at home, pedaling the stress of my day away.