Here’s how to break up with your gym


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I am more faithful to my CrossFit box, than I have ever been to anything in my entire life. Within three months of joining, what started as a place to check off “work out” from my to-do list transformed into the epicenter of my schedule and my life.

But when I started dating and inevitably falling (in a real way) for another gym-member,  I realized that if the relationship ever ended, I was also going to have to end things with my gym. “Breaking up is always hard to do. Anything that helps define who you are as a person is going to be difficult to lose. That applies when you leave a space or a gym…part of you goes with it,” says Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. PhD, a psychologist.

Of course, romantic rifts aren’t the only reason someone would want—or feel like they need to—call it quits with their house of fitness. Lewandowski and Karla Ivankovich, PhD, a clinical counselor at OnePatient Global Health suggest a few other reasons it’s time to split. She says to ask yourself the following questions: “Is there a seemingly better-quality place to go?  Have you grown bored with this studios classes and instructors and need more novelty? Could your fitness goals be better accomplished by going elsewhere? Has your typical workout routine turned into a number of excuses for why you can’t go? Do you no longer feel inspired? Do you feel you’ve developed negative competitive energy?”

Whatever the reason or situation, ending such a personal relationship can come with a lot of sadness, guilt, or anxiety.  So I asked Lewandowski and Ivankovich for their tips on how to break up with your studio or gym—and nope, it definitely doesn’t involve ghosting or orbiting.

how to break up with gym
Photo: Unsplash/ Alora Griffiths

Make an informed decision

“I wouldn’t encourage someone to quit their gym without really thinking about whether or not the issue is the space or if it is more personal,” says Ivankovich. “Is it just that the “shiny new toy” mentality has faded? Is it that you’re less committed to your fitness and health needs than you were when you first joined?”

By turning inward you may realize that you don’t actually need to break-up with your gym, you just need to remember all the things you love about exercise, and re-prioritize it. “If it is because working out is difficult, I suggest giving it 90 days and see how it goes. You may find that it was just a bad day/week,” says Ivankovich.

If you realize it is the right move, that’s a good sign. Breaking up for good is slightly easier when you know it’s what’s right, she says.

Find a new studio and dive in

Sure, getting under one person may not help you get over another, but joining one gym can help you get over another (you win some you lose some). For the sake of your heart (metaphorical and literal, obvi), Ivankovich says, “I would encourage people to take a test run of a few other studios, to see which you vibe best with.” Then, you can join that fitness community knowing that it’s a good fit.

“This is a time to start building a better fitness experience and healthy minded sense of self elsewhere,” says Lewandowski. Basically, this is a time to find relationships—with the community, with the coaches, and with the space itself—that serves you better.

IRL friendships are important, and just because it didn’t work out with one space doesn’t mean you should ditch the idea of finding a new #fitfam. “Right now we are literally living in a form of semi-isolation thanks to social media. But workout studios and gyms give us a break to step away from social media and technology while giving us an opportunity to engaging with others in person, which is really important,”says Ivanovich.

Once you decide to switch, do it cold turkey

“You get so attached in your gym because it provides experiences that help you grow and improve the self—this is called self-expansion and is considered a fundamental motivation for humans,” says Lewandowski. “Because that place gives you so much, losing it is going to hurt. But it is best to go make a clean break and go cold-turkey,” he says. 

A recent study found that patterns of breakup and renewal in romantic relationships, “were linked to increased symptoms of psychological distress, indicating the accumulation of relationship transitions can create added turmoil for individuals.” Lewandowski says gym-breakups can lead to similar symptoms, so once you know you’re ready to do it, don’t look back.

Follow these tips for making a #fitfam at your new gym—and three more healthy tips for dealing with a loss.

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