Shock Horror: The 'No Gym' Experiment

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Huge announcement to make: I haven’t been to the gym since November! Shock horror! The reason for this? The ‘No Gym’ Experiment.

In November my Virgin Active membership increased due to Pru Health (my private health provider) cutting back on the amount that they would subsidise my gym payments by. It went up to an extortionate amount and I decided to change gyms.

“Hold on a minute, though,” I thought. “Do I really need a gym? What would happen to my body if I simply stopped going?”

It occurred to me that for six years I had been a member of the same gym, doing the same classes in the same rooms with (weirdly!) the same people. I wanted to know if it was truly making a lot of difference and whether a gym membership was worth the money, so I decided to do a little experiment. Which turned into rather more of a big experiment, because now I have done almost half a year without a gym!

Here’s what happened to my body (and mind and soul!) during my Gym Sabbatical. Please note, though, that just because I stopped the gym doesn’t mean that I stopped exercising! I walk quite long distances when I’m casting and I’m the kind of person who will run up an escalator rather than stand still holding the handrail. My basic level of exercise is probably a little higher than the average as a result!


1) I thought that I would start jogging, buy a boxing bag and some gloves, buy a WiiFit or an exercise video – I did none of these things. It seems that – for me at least – when it comes to exercise, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. The routine that I had of popping to the gym every time I was in town for castings had gone out of the window, and so had my desire to exercise!

2) I started to feel really drowsy in the afternoons. Really drowsy. Say hello to the Afternoon Nap. And by nap, I’m talking one-and-a-half to two hours.

3) I didn’t put on any weight! Well, perhaps a pound or so some weeks, but it always went back down again. I expected to put on quite a few pounds very early on, but it just didn’t happen. Over the last month or so it has crept up, so perhaps it just takes a while for the decreased level of activity to take effect?

4) My fitness level, calculated by having some weird electronic thing strapped to your chest, has very slightly decreased. But not spectacularly! Weird, considering that I was doing spin class three times a week and could (quite literally) sprint up the sides of hills!

5) Despite the fitness level not registering much of a change, I now cannot sprint up hills. Which is surely a better indication of change than a weird chest harness contraption!

6) Also, despite having not actually put on weight, there has been a marked change to my body. The loss of muscle tone is actually quite astounding – my arms and legs are no longer sculpted and sexy. They’re not fat, or even chubby, but the flesh has lost its firmness. Don’t even go there with bottom and tummy – they move when I walk, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter. There’s also an excess of flesh above the waistband area that wasn’t there before. None of these changes are individually that drastic, but there’s a definite overall transformation, and it ain’t for the better!

7) Whether or not this is in my mind, I have no idea, but I feel less alert and generally less positive than when I was taking part in gym classes on a regular basis. I tend to take the easier option with things when given the opportunity to – and I’ve definitely been less sociable.

8) I have been eating less. You’d think that would be a good thing, but actually I have been picking at food and eating at weird times. Exercising regularly meant that I was properly hungry at specific times and I didn’t really crave sugary or unhealthy foods – being more sedentary has made me lazier with my food choices!

There! What do you think? I’m telling you all of this now because from the first week of May I’m starting back at the gym from scratch. I have categorically decided that the gym is a necessary evil in my life – I don’t have the discipline to exercise alone and I need the routine of gym visits to make sure that I exercise on a regular basis.

So I’ll be bringing you regular updates – reporting on new classes that I’ve tried, exercises that I’ve found effective, and I’ll be tracking my progress and the effects that it has on my body.

Over the next two weeks until Gym D-Day, I’ll be telling you all about my new gym and why I chose it. I’ll be gearing up to starting my new regime, and perhaps sharing a few ‘before’ statistics!

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