It really has been over 6 months since I have been to the gym. The gym was always a big part in my life and almost overnight it was stripped away from me and I didn't know how to handle it. I was finally approaching a high point in my fitness, hitting new personal records very regularly in my lifts and workouts. In December 2016, all that went down hill.
Coming off a 30k/year pay cut, what's the obvious expense that gets cut first? The gym. Especially when you are paying for a CrossFit gym membership. I may have got by with the $10 Planet Fitness membership by scrapping together some change or something for a month but that kind of gym has never motivated me. CrossFit was part of my identity and now it was gone when that last check was used up and there was no more money. Everything I had planned went down the drain.
When I couldn't afford a membership anymore, when I couldn't afford anything anymore because I was unemployed for 6 weeks, I was in a huge fitness drought that continued for months even after finding a job. I was so use to how the gym was structured and having a coach and other people there to hold you accountable makes a HUGE difference.
Months had went by and I still could not get back into the rhythm. I'd do the normal thing everyone does and "tell myself" I'm going to workout tomorrow and not do it. Sometimes I'd even write up a weeks worth of workouts but only do 1 or 2 days and fall back off for a week or 2. Gradually, I was dropping from most fit to most lazy and it began to eat away at me. I got angry, angry at myself for letting this happen. Not just the fitness, but the money.
As I sit with 10 years in the Army National Guard I think to myself, now what? The only answer, request to be discharged from the Guard and transferred to Regular Army so that I can try out for Special Forces. Knowing I'd need to improvise and put all my excuses behind me if I wanted to make SF, I got up and did something. Having a dream that I had nearly 11 years ago revitalized in me was just what I needed. Now I had a purpose to train, now the excuses of not having money or a gym membership were invalid.
I found a local park that has a running trail and some outdoor equipment, specifically for the pull up bars. I started running again because I new I'd need to be not only fast but have great endurance. I started doing pushups, pullups, sit ups, burpees, lunges, whatever I could string together to make a hard workout. I even got a backpack and filled it with heavy stuff to ruck run and use it as a weight to lift. I did deadlifts, overhead presses, kettlebell swings, you name it. I improvised and turned a heavy backpack into a full fitness system.
It wasn't long after forcing myself to run 1 mile before my workout several times a week that I was hitting PRs again. For the first time ever, I broke under 6 minutes for a 1 mile run. In addition, for the first time I also ran 2 miles in 13:28, the fastest I have ever ran.
Many people don't workout because they aren't motivated and now, I understand that. I wasn't motivated for anything but once I found something to attach to my fitness, I was right back on track without any excuses, and I think that's what needs to happen. People need to remember why they are training. For me, I'm training because it will (not may) be the difference in life or death for me or someone around me. Not feeling like working out isn't a valid excuse when a life is on the line, you just have to do it, you are obligated.
Maybe you aren't prepping for SF, but it may still be a life or death situation. At a minimum, think about how everyone you know who is over 40 is all beat down and can't even get around to play with kids or grand kids. I personally, want to be the fittest grandfather ever, outside running circles around all the kids. I want to be healthy, active, and life a LONG life. That's another motivator for me, and it should be for everyone.
As of July 2017 I still have not been able to go to a gym, but I'm still hitting PRs. I got the approval to transfer to the Regular Army as well, although because of my rank, I couldn't go directly to SF selection. All that means is I have 3 more months of a new MOS to prepare for selection while I'm on active duty with free housing, free food, and free gyms. After that, I can drop the packet and I'll be even more fit and prepared for the crucible that is selection.
Whatever your situation is, find that purpose and attach your fitness to it. That's going to be the secret ingredient in keeping yourself accountable and not wanting to skip a training day. Constantly set goals. Without a purpose or goal, why are you even training? I started off saying I want to run under 2 miles under 14. I kept practicing and eventually, I did it. Same thing with under 6 minutes for 1 mile. MANY times I hit 6:01 or 6:05 but finally, I broke under 6. Next goal, under 13 minute for a 2 mile run.
With all that being said, do I think you can train without a gym? Short answer no, but it really depends on your goal. For me honestly, I feel like I'm not training hard enough because I don't have weights to lift and get stronger so I'm relying on body weight movements, which in combat, will be much different running with a full kit and rucksack vs gym clothes. The plan really is to get back to the gym ASAP so that I can use that to my advantage to squat, deadlift, and train with extra weight, and if you have a similar goal, I believe you should too. The biggest thing is not letting yourself fall into that rut of no training.
Keep training hard, because life is hard!