Why working out at home doesn’t work

melissa jeans afterFor me this year marks 23 years of working out, and yet even I’ve never been successful at regularly working out at home. Maybe that seems obvious to most, after all spending most of my days in a gym you’d think there would be no need to ever work out at home. However look at it this way, imagine working a full day in your office and then at quitting time instead of leaving you go to the washroom change into your gym clothes and then began to exercise for another hour in your office or lobby. I’m sure like most people the roar of engines and tires squealing out of the parking lot would have you thinking twice about staying at work longer for the sake of exercise.

Logically working out at home makes sense, it’s comfortable, it’s easily accessible, once you have the equipment there’s no additional cost, you can play whatever music you want, have the TV on, seems like a sure fire recipe for success. Yet treadmills and exercise equipment across the country are more often used to display drying clothes than for exercise.

Truly there is a simple reason why working out at home doesn’t usually work. It’s likely not what you think either, it’s not because you are lazy, it’s not because you get distracted by other things, it’s not because it’s so much easier to hold the couch down (well maybe a little bit but those are the secondary factors not the primary in my opinion.)

The main reason working out at home doesn’t work is because of our psychological connection to home. It’s safe, it’s a place of comfort, and it’s our retreat to escape everything else in the world. In an unrelated conversation this past weekend a very good friend of mine referred to his home and family as a “fortress” a place that stands up to the stresses of life and where we feel as though we can be free of it all, or at least it should be.

Now we all know we need to exercise because it’s good for us, but with all the demands in our life it’s easy to be tired, worn out and not feel like exercising. Essentially because of the other demands of life this tags a kind of negative emotion to exercise which worsens over time.

So when inspiration strikes we attack or home exercise regime with vigour which unfortunately quickly fades. Our underlying subconscious negative attachment to the extra effort required to exercise reminds us that our home is about safety, comfort and an isolation from the stresses of the world, soon our programming takes over and holding the couch down becomes a much more positive aand desired activity than dusting off the treadmill or the gym equipment.

This is why gyms work and why personal trainers work even better, because psychologically it appeals to a different type of programming. People attend public gyms for exercise, but in reality the subconscious programming of a relaxed social environment that is safe is the real reason most people keep going beyond the initial inspired weeks. Fortunately within this social environment exercise is both acceptable and expected and looking a little sweaty and unkempt is ok too. Working with a personal trainer takes this a step further, while fun and social interaction is still one of the top statistical reasons people work with a trainer long term the psychological attachment to the responsibility of showing up for a set appointment is what allows people to fast track their new habits. Of course the results of working with a personal trainer are also generally better because of the knowledge and accountability also provided by the trainer. Food for thought before committing to the costly purchase of a home gym.