Have you ever let the gym take over your entire life and now you’re sick of it?
I’ve been there.
And it’s UNTHINKABLE to imagine that the weights room, once the only place you ever wanted to be, suddenly holds no interest. But it happens. Heck, I’ve known professional bodybuilders experience this “gym burnout”, never mind newbies!
So how do we combat this?
How do we regain the drive and focus you had in the early days?
That’s what today’s article is about.
I know some people reading this will be expecting me to give a motivational speech, tell you to “man up”, “go hard or go home”, or some bulls**t like that… I’m not going to.
You see, I have first-hand experience of this “gym burnout” and I can tell you that it’s not a question of whether you ‘want it bad enough’ (sorry influencers, you’re full of s**t). The best piece of advice I can give you is to actually STEP AWAY, rather than trying to force things.
The last time this happened to me it was caused by over-working.
I’d stress myself out all the time about not being able to train properly, and beat myself up for not being consistent with my nutrition. When I eventually got to the gym I just didn’t enjoy it because my head wasn’t in it.
Rather than trying to push harder, I did something I’d never done before… I cancelled my gym membership.
I’d been training since I was 9 years old, so this was HUGE for me. But I just wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. I felt unmotivated, lazy, and stressed out. I took a big step back and realized that I’d actually let the gym take over my whole life. I had literally NOTHING ELSE going on. This was a large part of the problem for me.
Perhaps it’s the same for you.
When I started developing hobbies that weren’t gym related, I began feeling happier in myself and becoming the person I used to be.
Before long, I was back in the weights room, enjoying smashing the f**k out of the iron.
Nowadays, whenever I feel that “gym burnout” creeping up on me, I instantly take a step back and look at whether I’m becoming ‘obsessed’ with it again.
Trust me, it helps
So what kind of hobbies are we talking about?
Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna tell you to become a hippie. Your hobbies can be ANYTHING YOU LIKE, as long as they don’t involve you picking up weights and re-racking them. Here’s three ideas to get you started.
1. GET A NEW PHYSICAL HOBBY
One of the things that really worked for me was going on walks with my children.
We downloaded Pokemon Go and hit the road, collecting little creatures as we clocked up the miles and burned through stacks of calories.
The mental health benefits of a) getting outside, and b) spending more time with family, were absolutely massive, and reignited my spark for life at a time when I really needed something to replace the gym.
For you maybe that hobby may be something else; just make it physical! The other two suggestions will focus on other things.
Maybe you’ll take up zen archery, or enroll in a dance class. After lifting weights you might have the mobility of a f**king brick, but that’s not the point; it’s about turning a physical activity into FUN!
Some activities come with cross-over benefits, too.
For example, dancing can be a great hobby if you’re interested in boxing. The two go hand-in-hand, so much so that Vasyl Lomachenko started dance classes at just 10 years old, after being instructed to by his coach. We’re not talking cool street dance, either. This was old school traditional Ukranian folk dancing!
“You want to be a great boxer? Then you must learn how to dance!”, recalled Lomachenko when he told ESPN about his childhood.
It paid off, too. Today he is among the greatest lightweight boxers in the world, and possesses the nimble footwork of a well-trained dancer in the squared circle.
Anyway, the point is this: get a new physical hobby to keep your activity level up. Trial a few things and choose the one you enjoy the most.
2. SUPPORT A S**T SPORTS TEAM
This is one of the most FUN hobbies, as it requires no effort at all.
There’s something inherently motivational about supporting an underdog. If you’ve ever watched a Rocky movie (and PLEASE tell me you have?!?!), you’ll know that victory is sweeter when it’s an underdog proving people wrong and overcoming insurmountable odds.
This is something I actually started doing with my son.
I grew up supporting Newcastle United Football Club. Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, David Ginola, it was a great time to be a football fan. However, nowadays they’re run by a bunch of money-hungry cockroaches who cause more anger than enjoyment, so it was lots of fun choosing a lower league football team and cheering them on with my kid.
It gave my son and I something to look forward to every Saturday, and when our tiny team won a match I felt genuinely inspired by their efforts!
Choosing a team and keeping up to date with their progress is super easy. Football Scores constantly updates its list of live scores and league tables, so it’s a hands-free hobby. So perhaps you’ll start supporting Hampshire’s Havant & Waterlooville F.C, or Merkshire’s Maidenhead United F.C., see if they can escape mid-table obscurity and climb the ranks like Rocky Balboa. In my case, we supported South Shields (our local non-league team). You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is.
3. ENROLL IN A COURSE
We’ve covered something physical and something fan-based, so now let’s look at a mental hobby.
Whenever I’m feeling unmotivated, I love reading.
For me that involves reading and learning about fitness. It’s been a hobby of mine since I was a kid, so even if I’m not particulary enjoying my training I still love reading up on the science behind it.
Heck, it’s stood me in good stead, too. We at Russ Howe PTI are keen on shutting down misleading headlines and I’ve laid dozens of them to rest here on the blog throughout the years, and that’s because I love to read.
So perhaps you’d like to pick up a reading hobby or, better yet, enroll in a new course? It doesn’t matter what you decide to undertake, just do something you’re INTERESTED IN.
The bottom line in all of these suggestions is FUN.
Maybe that is landscape gardening, hairdressing, coding, or something else. Whether it’s a new hobby or even a qualification; GO FOR IT.
I’ve personally used all of these when I’ve felt “burned out” from going to the gym every day and watching my nutrition .