First posted July 9, 2014. Updated!

I used to be an athlete. I played summer soccer for seven years as a kid, and I played tennis all through high school. I also danced for eleven years.

Despite all those years of physical activity, I never seemed like an athlete. I wasn’t very coordinated in gym class, I couldn’t run a mile all that quickly, and don’t get me started on push-ups. While I was a decent soccer player and a decent dancer and a decent tennis player, I wasn’t great, so it’s unsurprising that by college all that stuff fell to the wayside. Barring a few months of working out sporadically in college, I avoided words like “treadmill” and “elliptical” and “weight-lifting” until about two years ago, when I joined a gym.

It can be difficult to go to the gym in NYC, especially as it’s tough to create a routine. In my pre-gym days I used to be confused by friends who’d decline plans because that was their gym night, but now I get it. Life is busy – if I’m out late at a choir rehearsal, I have no interest in going to the gym next morning. Some friends are amazed when I say I go the gym before work, but what they don’t realize is, if I tried to go after work, I’d never make it. If I don’t have plans, at the end of the work day I want to go home, eat dinner, and watch TV.
So instead I roll out of bed before 7 am and drag myself out the door for a quick workout a couple times a week, and while I don’t quite get the endorphin rush, I don’t hate the time I spend on the elliptical anymore. It’s especially bearable if I bring something to read on my Nook, or if I can find a tennis match to watch. Turns out tennis makes me run faster than reading does.
NYC gyms can be expensive, and mine is no exception. If I were more of a hardcore cyclist, I’d bike for exercise and scrap the monthly fees. But I’m not, and while getting to the gym in the snow or rain is definitely hard, I’m better at it than I used to be. Going in the summer is downright easy by comparison. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself this week after a month of failing to get there. The best-kept routines can suffer when you have as busy a May and June as I had, and my routine isn’t best-kept at the best of times.
But I’m getting back into it, because I do see a difference when I go to the gym regularly. I’m a little stronger, a little fitter, a little more confident in my abilities. I don’t get quite as tired when I’m out long walks in the city. I’m sure I’ll miss weeks again next time I go on vacation, or when the cold weather comes back, but for now it’s time to buckle down and jump out of bed early a few days a week.
How do you exercise? Is a gym membership in NYC worth it to you, or would you be biking across the bridge every morning?