I’m 28 years old. For better or worse (worse), that makes me a millennial. And if there’s one thing millennials love more than anything else, it’s being on the internet all. the. time. I am by no means immune to this, but I do try really hard to keep my internet “addiction” under control—I don’t check Facebook on my phone at night or on the weekends (unless I get a notification…ain’t nobody got time for little red dots on their apps!); I don’t aimlessly browse the web when I’m at home; and as much as I’d like to be interesting enough to post something on Instagram every day, I know that I’m not.
Basically, the only times I bum around on the internet with no actual purpose are when I’m trying to avoid work, in short bursts while a passenger in a car, or if I find myself in the unfortunate situation of being book-less while stuck in a waiting room somewhere.
I’m not saying my way is the “right” way, but I am saying that there’s a time and a place for mindless internetting, and the time you spend at the gym is not that time or place.
Which leads me to my rant. The number of people I see glued to their smartphone at the gym blows my mind. And even though I know it shouldn’t bother me, it drives me fucking crazy. Part of my frustration certainly comes from a place of “if some of us are here working our asses off, why are the rest of you so blatantly half-assing it?” But my bigger issue with it is that if you’re on your phone, you’re robbing yourself of a really great workout. It’s an issue of mindfulness (I know that’s a big buzzword at the moment, but please know that it’s a whole lot more than that to me), and it genuinely makes me sad, if just for a moment, to see so many people doing (potentially injurious!) things so mindlessly.
Think about it…
When you run outside, do you also spend the entire time texting? No.
When you ride your bike, are you also scrolling through your newsfeed? I hope not!
Do you try to beat your high score on [insert the name of whatever game you can’t stop playing here] while you hike up a mountain? Nope (And even if cell service wasn’t an issue, I’m fairly certain the answer would still be no.)
So why do so many people think it’s okay to do all of these things when they’re on a treadmill or elliptical or bike or stair machine at the gym? Why do I see at least one person a week walking around the track at the Y with a giant Dunkin Donuts coffee in one hand, and their phone in the other? Why is it so difficult for us to stay focused on just one thing at a time—especially when that thing is our own health and well-being?
I mean, I get it—using the machines to work out is usually suuuper boring. Ditto for walking in circles on the track. But chances are you’re only doing the thing you’re doing for 60 minutes or less (I make this assumption based on the people I see when I’m at the gym during my lunch hour) and there are plenty of (better) ways to beat the boredom! For example:
- Try an interval workout—if you constantly change up your speed and/or intensity, it’ll be a lot harder to get bored
- Work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time—you can’t be bored if you don’t give yourself enough time to get bored
- Listen to music/podcast/book on tape
- Actually pay attention to your body and breathing, and let the workout become more meditative
If you really need your gym time to be a more “social” experience, find a class you like (I’m obsessed with the boot camp class at my gym), or make a new gym friend. Just please, please, please put your damn phone away! Leave it in your car or in a locker. If you use your phone for music, get your playlist going and then put it in a pocket or armband or the convenient little holder on the machine.
I promise the internet and all of your social networks will still be there when you’re done.
Your turn: What’s your biggest pet peeve at the gym?