Some thoughts on going to the (free) gym

I have a moderately nice gym on the first floor of my apartment building. It’s nothing fancy, just a small room with basic equipment, mirrors, and a TV. It’s also free. As someone who is constantly trying to find ways to reduce costs, and also debating signing up for a yoga class to be more fit, WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?

Ugh. Okay, here I go. I’ve committed today to go down for at least 30 min and do something. No time like the present, right?

Min 0-2: Some stretches

Allllllright, let’s do this. Damn, there’s someone on the treadmill. I don’t want to exercise right next to him, he’s the only other person in here. Hmm. Okay, why don’t I go to the side here where the mat is and warm up a bit. That sounds nice.

The first step is music. I’m just going to hit play on whatever I was last listening to on Spotify. Perfect. A little toe-touching…hmm, this is harder than it used to be. Switching over to some downward dog and whatever that other position is. This is nice because I’m basically just chilling on the ground, stretching out my back.

Min 2-13: The treadmill that isn’t actually a treadmill

The thing that isn’t a treadmill but pretends to be. It’s got free moving foot thingys that swing back and forth. You can’t really run on them, which I think adds to the workout. Maybe. I feel super silly on it, so I hope at least that I’m getting a good workout from it.

The best part of this machine is that it reads you the calories burned. I like that after 10 minutes, I’ve burned 101 calories. It would only take me 3 seconds to put that back in my body, but that’s beside the point.

Min 13-30: The real treadmill

FINALLY. Dude is gone, time for me to run it up. I haven’t done any running in two months, since I attempted a 5K. I say attempted because I really only ran the first mile, and the rest was a weird walk/jog action. Except now I really need to get into shape, because I’m signed up for a 10K in September. If I can run it in under 75 minutes, Ian will shave his beard. he hasn’t been clean-shaven since 16; this is a big deal to me.

Walk for 2 minutes. Trying to ease into this. Now I’m going to run for 2 minutes. Okay, maybe it was a minute and change. Rinse and repeat. I’m watching the time on the cable box of the mounted wall TV instead of the time readout on the treadmill display because counting seconds makes time feel slower.

13:49 for a mile. About where I expected. At this rate, it’d take me 86 minutes to finish the 10K, and that’s assuming I don’t slow down after the first mile. Fuck. There’s a 90-minute time limit to the race. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Okay, taking a couple minutes to slow down. I am so sweaty right now.

Min 30-34: Free weights

Woo! Made it to 30 minutes. I’m feeling good, let’s keep this going! Time for some weights. Because I’m a wimp, let’s grab these 5-pounders. I know from experience that these will turn my arms into limp noodles if I work them out right.

Up, down, up, down, hold… dammit, I’m tired again. There goes all my energy. Three sets and I’m outie.


I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to self-directed workouts at the gym, which is why I’m considering shelling out money to sign up for yoga or something similar. I’m working on using the free gym regularly, but clearly this is still a work in progress.

Have you ever been unable (or unwilling) to take advantage of a free resources like an in-building gym?


  1. I have a free gym in my apartment too. It’s pretty shitty; one treadmill, one stationary bike, one elliptical, and a handful of weight machines that I cannot fold myself into.
    I just used the treadmill for about six months. I started to look like the polar opposite of wheelchair-bound Joe Swanson from Family Guy – all muscular legs and a stick-figure upper body – so I just shelled out for an actual cheap gym membership last month ($39/month) for some actual weights. I’m not super happy about it since I’d rather my apartment just bought a cheap set of weights, but they’re about as accommodating as a crusty old badger so I didn’t have much of a choice.
    Good luck with your 10k training!

    1. Author

      Thankfully my gym has free weights – weight machines are completely alien to me. $39 a month is more than $0, but it’s not bad. I have co-workers who insist on getting memberships to Equinox, which our employer offers discounts to. It’s still well over $100 a month, which is crazy to me. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Self directed workouts are the hardest for me. Have you thought about hitting up other free resources for workouts? YouTube is my best friend and here are a few favorites if you want to check them out 🙂

    Yoga with Adriene- 10-45 minute yoga videos for EVERYTHING. They are perfect for the basics and the guidance she gives is very approachable. I am a complete yoga newbie but I love these.

    Tara Stiles- Another great yoga option… lots of videos covering all kinds of yoga and focus areas (hips, arms, abs, etc)

    PopSugar- Silly name, but they have lots of 10-40 minutes workouts that require only body weight or sometimes a few hand weights.

    Fitness Blender- Plain videos, but great workouts and a huge selection!

    Blogilates- The gal who runs Blogilates is VERY peppy, so it can take some getting used to, but she has some killer squat workouts and other challenges. I have finished her videos and practically crawled to get water because my legs are so spent!

    There are many others, but those are a few to try! The big perk for me is that I can workout at home or in a hotel gym with these without “thinking”. I just press play and do what they tell me for 30 minutes… I don’t need to plan the workout or figure it out along the way. Its all set and ready to go!

    And for running- are there any local running clubs or people you know who run? I find that sharing the running pain with others (even just once a week) is a great way to actually keep going 😉

    Good luck!

    1. Author

      I’ve stayed away from self-directed yoga because I’m afraid of doing something wrong, but I guess that’s just silly. There are tons of free workout programs available online that I’ve definitely tried in the past. My favorite has been Kayla Itsines; when I did her workout combined with the Whole30 diet (2 years ago now); I was in the best shape of my life.
      Definitely going to check out YouTube tutorials next!

      I’m a very slow runner, and I don’t like working out with most people; there have only been a few exceptions to that. I don’t even like working out with Ian. 🙁
      Still working on how to best get myself motivated for running.

  3. My climbing gym membership is my best friend! I am a serious gym hater and climbing was literally the only thing that excited me and made me pumped to go back every time. There’s a level for everyone, and each problem is different, but if you stick at it you gain so much strength + coordination!

    1. Author

      A lot of my friends (bf included) are super into climbing! I’ve tried it a few times, but the combination of heights and the feeling of falling were a bit much for me. I’m definitely going back in the future to keep friends company and do the occasional slanted easy climb, but not sure if it’s a good long-term solution for me. 😅 Glad it works for you though! It’s a great full body workout, much like swimming.

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