When to say 'no' to the gym

When to say ‘no’ to the gym

There’s something I’ve decided to let go of, something I want you to say goodbye to as well… wanna know what it is?

Gym guilt.

That feeling when you haven’t made it to the gym for whatever reason and you decide that this makes you a failure. That you’re a bad person because you skipped the gym in favour of an extra hour in bed.

It’s this feeling I want us to obliterate because it is simply not true. You are not a failure for missing one workout. You are not a bad person for listening to your body and getting more sleep.

To clarify, I am not saying ‘screw the gym, do what you want’ (well, not exactly). I enjoy the gym, I enjoy yoga – exercise makes me feel better mentally and physically as it does most people.


I started falling in this trap recently. I generally set goals for the week ahead, including what exercise I plan to do on what days. I find this helpful and motivating… but I started putting too much pressure on myself. I was feeling fat and guilty every time I missed a session.

Yes, we should be exercising for our health BUT we should not be putting so much pressure on ourselves that we feel guilty for not exercising.

And the thing is, I wasn’t missing sessions because I was being lazy, I was feeling tired and run down. I was also keeping up with my yoga, so was getting movement in, but I still felt guilty.

There was one morning when I wanted to cry because I didn’t want to go to the gym but I didn’t want to not go to the gym either… it was at this point when I decided no, I shouldn’t feel like this.

I took the day off exercise that day and meditated instead. I then started meditating instead of exercising for a week or so. I felt so much better for it. My body and mind were crying out for stillness.

I’m now getting back to the gym (and meditating most mornings) but I refuse to feel guilty if I don’t feel up to it sometimes. I don’t put pressure on myself and I’m starting to lose the guilt. I think our bodies tell us when we need to slow down, we just need to get better at listening to it.

When to say ‘no’ to the gym

  • When you’ve had a rubbish night’s sleep.
  • When you’ve got a banging headache.
  • When you feel panicky at the thought of the gym the next day.
  • When you want to cry because you’re so tired.
  • When it’s day one of your period and you hate the world.
  • When you just. can’t.

Not going to the gym doesn’t have to mean you waste that time, there’s plenty of things you can do apart from the gym that will benefit your health, such as:

  • sleep
  • meditate
  • yoga
  • gentle walk
  • read a book
  • listen to an inspiring podcast
  • text a loved one

The health and wellness industry is great and I love it, but the pressure we put on ourselves to do everything perfect all the time is infuriating.

I’m done with it, my mental health and my happiness comes first and that means sometimes, saying  ‘fuck you’ ‘no’ to the gym.

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