The moment Hollie Azzopardi realised she needed to quit the gym.

 

I first set foot in a gym when I was in high school. I was introduced to the gym by my Dad, who I grew up watching go for daily runs and spend time weight training and boxing. I wanted to be part of that.

By the time I was 16 I knew my way around the weights room and ‘gyming’ was part of my every day life. I was less inclined to spend time on treadmills and doing cardio and preferred weights as this was when I spent time with my Dad.

Leaving high school, I spent more of my time at the gym as being a Uni student I had more time to spend there. I transitioned from weights to classes – pilates, spin, body attack – and I loved it! I loved the endorphin rush and the way it made me feel after sweating it out in a class. I loved seeing my toned body morph and change. It was good feeling strong and fit – plus I got to spend more time training with my Dad.

When I moved out of home and away from my local area, I quickly found a new gym and started training solo. What used to be fun and something I looked forward to started to feel like a chore. It wasn’t what I was used to. I signed up to a local yoga class which I looked forward to going to each week, but kept my gym membership because it was something I always had.

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Images: Supplied

I started to skip gym sessions and it would leave me wracked with guilt. It wasn’t that I wasn’t exercising at all – I was riding my bike, taking yoga classes, going for walks – but because I wasn’t going to the gym as often as usual, I started feeling really bad about myself.

I decided to kick myself up the bum and sign up to a 12 week fitness challenge – maybe that was the accountability I needed to commit to the gym again. I took my ‘before’ photo and changed to the gym that my partner was training at, so he could hold me accountable.

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I started training every day before work at 5:30am – that way I had no excuses. I had my gym bag packed the night before and even started going to sleep in my gym clothes so I could up and go! I followed a heap of ‘fitspo’ pages on Instagram and food was all lean protein, shakes, veggies and egg whites.

I became a woman obsessed. My love for the gym was back! My body was changing, people were noticing and I felt good! Didn’t I? Sure, I was tired – ALL the time – but I put it down to the early starts and not being a coffee drinker.

On top of training six days a week, I was doing my weekly yoga and walking as often as I could. I was dedicated to having my ‘after’ photo the best it could be.

And it worked! The ‘ab selfies’ were filling my friends Snapchat feeds and my body looked better than ever – I had the gym to thank for that, so after the 12 weeks were up, I kept going – ignoring the little voice in my head screaming at me to stop and rest.

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“On top of training six days a week, I was doing my weekly yoga and walking as often as I could. I was dedicated to having my ‘after’ photo the best it could be.”

I started feeling really run down and getting sick became a regular occurrence. After seeking health from professionals (including my GP and naturopath) it was advised I tone down the gym to rest.

Secretly, I felt relieved. My body had been craving sleep and rest, but I was so focused on getting back my love for the gym, that my actual health was failing and I hadn’t noticed.

I stopped the early starts. Then I stopped going to the gym altogether. At first I was wracked with guilt – I felt lazy sitting on the couch when I ‘should’ have been sweating it out at the gym. But any time I had free to train, I just didn’t want to! Surely there was another way?

Watch: The Glow’s Lizzie Marton tries Sam Wood’s new 28:28 workout…(Post continues after video)

 

I had kept up my yoga as I truly enjoyed it and looked forward to it every week. I unfollowed the fitspo pages and started to follow yoga accounts. One day, it was like the penny just dropped – I didn’t enjoy the gym anymore, so why did I feel the need to keep going?

I wasn’t unhealthy – I eat very well and was training in other ways, so why did I feel the need to guilt myself for missing the gym? Yes, it made me truly happy for a period in my life – and it might again – but at this stage in my life, all it was bringing me was guilt and pressure.

So I quit.

It has been nine months since I have had a gym membership and I haven’t felt happier.

Yes, my body is not as toned or tight as it was when I was slogging it out on the regular.

But do you know what? When I exercise now I genuinely look forward to it! If I miss a class or a walk because I feel tired or sick, I don’t feel guilty about it – I let myself rest. Mentally, my health hasn’t been better.

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“Mentally, my health hasn’t been better.”

The gym was a wonderful form of exercise for me for a period in my life and for that I am grateful. But if it isn’t for you, that’s okay too. Find a form of exercise you enjoy – it could be walking, ocean swimming, boot camps, one on one personal training, weights, boxing, yoga – the list goes on.

Tune in to whether you are training because you genuinely want to as opposed to feeling like you should. And when you find what it is you want to be doing, stick to that. That is when you will truly find wellness on all levels – mind, body and soul.

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“Find a form of exercise you enjoy.”

What workout works best for you?

This piece originally appeared on The Glow.

Hollie Azzopardi is a Wellness Coach and writer based in Sydney. You can follow her via her website, Instagram and Facebook.

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