The Gym Is NOT the Answer – Part 1

Even typing this title seems like a betrayal.

My family and friends know how happy the gym makes me. How I talked about CrossFit and my gym for the first two years straight, regardless of if the listening party was interested. How my gym was my self-professed “church”, my rock through some of the stormiest times of my life.

The gym used to be my answer. To everything. Stressed? Gym. Sad? Gym. Feel pudgy and unworthy and unsexy? Gym.

In the midst of expatness (four years in South Korea), I didn’t always have my gym and community that I thrived in. Now, in the midst of repatting (moving back to the U.S. after four years in South Korea), I haven’t yet found a gym and community that I call home. I’ve been forced to reconsider.

And here’s the thing: the gym is not the answer.

Let’s zoom out. Why do people go to the gym? Health. Stress relief.  To get smaller (women), to get bigger (men), to get sexier (everyone).

Again, here’s the thing: the gym is not the answer.


Before we talk about what is the answer, let’s examine the question. What are we seeking in the gym? Truly? What is lying under our desire for that killer workout?

My list looks like this:

  • mental/emotional stress relief through exercise
  • community
  • challenge and growth (learning new movements, mastering new skills)
  • physical health and longevity
  • lose body fat (something I think about far more than I’d like to admit)
  • balance out poor food/drink choices
  • be as attractive as possible to attract a romantic partner and be accepted and successful in society

The second half of my list has more to do with self-acceptance and mindfulness work than with the gym and exercise (a whole different blog post). The first half of the list are in fact things I can accomplish at the gym (bolded). And the bottom line is, I feel better about myself and my body AND I function better as a human when I’m going to the gym often.

However, my recent transition has forced upon me an important realization: the gym is not the answer; movement is.

This means that just because I don’t have a gym right now, I don’t have to fall apart. I don’t have to flounder. I simply need to move. Every day.

This also means more freedom—I might go for a long walk one day, and ride horses the next. I might go on a hike with a Meetup group or play around with handstands and backbends in the park. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve also noticed some shifts that have resonated with me when movement (not the gym) is the answer.


For me, the gym is still one of my happy places. When I find that home gym, it will be one of the places I get to challenge myself, be surrounded by like-minded people, relieve stress, and maintain or improve physical health. However, it is not the only place or way these needs can be fulfilled.

Whether I am traveling, settling in to a new country or my home country, insanely busy or with lots of free time, I can honor my body by moving every day. And you can too!

Join me on Instagram and post in what ways you #moveeveryday. The gym is not the answer, but delicious movement is.





  • Cathy October 8, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Tiffany, I so enjoy reading your blog posts…I too have been obsessed with the gym. If I don’t go I beat myself up…In Shanghai I walked an hour to the gym and an hour back…And while overseas I walked and walked and walked…But now that I am back at home and live in the country I tend to drive everywhere. I do drive to the gym three to four times a week and take Body Pump classes and Yoga and Zumba which I enjoy but I live in the country right by the beach and I should really walk more here!!! I have so enjoyed your pics of hiking by yourself and on the horseback ride etc…You are so right we should go outside and enjoy nature and just move….I listen to a podcast called Fit Cast ( i have listened to him for over 7 years…) and recently he interviewed a fitness enthusiast called Max Shank. You should check out his web site! Though he does own a gym he advocates fitness from the perspective of movement and he thinks that we should all do a five minute flow every morning right after we wake up. Nothing specific…just make it up your self… So I decided this is what I needed, drink two cups of water and just move…for five minutes…I can look at Facebook for an hour…I definitely can move for five minutes….I am on my first week and already a feel better….I recently decided just as you have that it is about movement…just move…

    Thanks for sharing Tiffany I look forward to hearing about your future adventures….Today is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and I am trying to think about things that I am grateful for and I am definitely grateful for meeting you, following your journey and learning from you!!!

    • Tiffany Skidmore October 26, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      LOVE this, Cathy! Thank you so much for the recommendation—I will certainly check that out. And I adore the thought of 5 minute flow in the mornings. I was doing that (or crazy dancing to a fun song) when I was doing my morning routine in Korea. I’ll have to get that started again! =) Grateful for you and the love you sent in this comment!! <3


Leave a Comment