3 MIN READ | Health Psychology

Adam Mulligan

Why People Stop Going to the Gym

Cite This
Adam Mulligan, (2022, May 16). Why People Stop Going to the Gym. Psychreg on Health Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/why-people-stop-going-gym/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

All too frequently, people lose their motivation and stop going to the gym. They create big plans for working out and getting fit, but they abandon them after a few months.

Why is this the case? Why are people so quick to abandon their goals? And most importantly, what can you do to make sure you’re not susceptible to these factors?

The big push and burnout

People frequently sign up for gym memberships when they feel a surge of motivation to do so. They watch a movie, talk to a friend, or encounter some major life event that sparks new interest in them, so they rush into fitness. They start working out every day, as hard as they can, and they push themselves to the absolute limit. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks, they feel sore, tired, and completely demotivated. They’ve burned out, and are unable to continue the way they were.

The solution: What’s the solution? For starters, make sure you set healthy expectations for yourself before going in. Understand that this is a long-term commitment, not a short-term burst. next, when you do start going to the gym, definitely push yourself, but don’t exhaust or overload yourself.

Intimidation or embarrassment

Nobody likes the idea of making a mistake at the gym. There are many people around you, sometimes dozens, and most of them are probably going to have more experience than you. Using a piece of equipment incorrectly, breaching etiquette, or getting tired easily may all make you feel embarrassed. If you feel intimidation or embarrassment strongly enough, it may discourage you from ever coming back to the gym.

The solution: Remember that everybody is new to the gym initially. Most of the people around you probably remember what it’s like to go to the gym for the first time too. If you’re not sure about something, ask someone for clarification; as long as they’re not in the middle of a set, they’ll probably be glad to help. And if you do make a mistake, don’t sweat it. It happens to everybody.

Lack of progress

Some people stop going to the gym if they feel like they’re not making any progress. Usually this happens because of one of two reasons:

  • Impatience. It takes a long time to get fit, especially if you’re starting with no experience and a long history of unhealthy lifestyle habits. If you notice you haven’t lost much weight after a couple of weeks, you might feel discouraged – but this is premature.
  • The first plateau. Exercise plateaus are very real. After making progress for some time, you may eventually hit a wall that seems impossible to cross.

The solution: First, recognise that it takes weeks to start seeing progress, months to achieve significant progress, and years to maintain that progress. Second, be prepared to encounter and overcome plateaus with the help of new exercises, more varied routines, and in some cases, extra rest.

Boredom or loss of interest

You might stop going to the gym because you feel bored or because you’re no longer interested in the exercises you’re doing. This is especially common for people who commit to the same routine and all the same exercises.

The solution: The best way to address this is to keep yourself interested and invested in your workout routines. That means finding exercises you genuinely enjoy, experimenting with new exercises, and changing things up whenever you feel a tinge of boredom.

Time concerns

Do you really have time to work out? If you’re juggling other priorities, like a career and family, you may find it hard to find time for the gym.

The solution: You can’t create time out of thin air, but you can plan your schedule more proactively and strictly. Can you squeeze in the gym before work? Can you save time by delegating some of your responsibilities?

Gym membership costs: the final straw

Your gym membership may cost as little as $10 a month, or more than $75 a month. In any case, it’s an extra expense that complicates your desire to get fit. If you’re already feeling demotivated for other reasons, the cost of a gym membership may practically force you to cancel.

The solution: Consider negotiating a lower rate with your gym; they may be willing to reduce the cost if it means keeping you, or they may have a cheaper plan for people like you. Alternatively, consider working out at home – gyms are nice, but you can technically exercise anywhere.

It’s true that most people who sign up for new gym memberships eventually quit, and most of those people quit within a couple of months. But you don’t have to be part of this demographic. If you know the common reasons why people quit going to the gym, you can get ahead of them, and preserve your motivation for the long term.


Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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