I have always hated P.E and the gym. As a child I was often picked last for teams, and my hand-eye coordination was so terrible that I usually felt the burning shame of responsibility for our team losing a game.
On the flip side, suffering with ADHD also means that I love starting new things without fear, diving straight in with boundless energy — I’m just not great at following through with it, because I find something else! I have had so many hobbies — from sober silent discos, to silk rope climbing, to mermaid swimming, which are usually fun but pretty expensive and require a level of commitment. Which we are not great at.
Exercising helps people who suffer with ADHD to use up that extra energy they have bouncing around inside of them. It de-stresses them and allows their mind to calm down for a little while. It wasn’t something I could ever motivate myself to do consistently (I remember studying for my law exams on the treadmill — the only time I have been able to stay on it for more than 5 minutes before getting bored!), until now.
After impulsively spending £180 on a saltyyoga membership that claimed to be ‘hot yoga infused with himalayan sea salt’ and not being motivated to go to more than one class, because it was frankly terrible quality and too far away, I decided to find something closer to home that would entertain my mind that is constantly searching for the next challenge.
I finally found a way of exercising that ticks all of my ADHD boxes — Gymbox. Here’s my advice on finding yours:
Make it as easy as possible for yourself.
People with ADHD find menial tasks extremely difficult, and for me that is commuting. I literally cannot deal with fighting my way onto a packed tube every day, combined with my incessant anxiety about being late. So I found a place to live that is within walking distance of my work, and then a gym.
By recognising what is difficult for you, you can adapt your life around it. Being able to recognise and work with your ‘weaknesses’ makes them a strength, because you can hack your life. Finding something that fits in with your unique personality type will help you stick with it.
Make sure it’s fun
One of the reasons I love having ADHD is that my life is never boring. I am always doing open to new experiences, and dive into them headfirst. Gymbox have an amazing selection of classes that are SO MUCH FUN.
In the last month I have tried: aerial hoop, trapeze, aerial yoga, CBD massage ball yin yoga, jiu jitsu, muay thai, a hammock class, a dance class, paddleboard yoga and pole dancing. The amazing thing about having all of these classes included in a gym membership is that you can try them out with no commitment. I have a new favourite hobby every week, and it’s stopped costing me a fortune and making me feel bad when I can’t keep it up!
It’s also really geeky, but I really enjoy waking up at 6.55am and booking onto classes for the next day on their app. It starts my day off on an adrenaline high and is kind of like a game to wake up to.
Look for flexibility
People who suffer with ADHD tend to change their minds a lot and have slight difficulties with organisation. Gymbox is amazing for this because you can cancel up to one hour before and be on the waitlist for classes that are full up.
I really love that I can book classes at the last minute and cancel them in advance, because I have a terrible habit of over-committing and not being able to do anything at all. I usually end up in a hammock class snoozing away whilst the intense boxing class I signed up for goes on outside!
I was a bit unsure about signing up to Gymbox at first because I hate feeling trapped, and I feel like most gyms have terrible contracts that lock you in. I pay £116 for my membership each month, which has a 3 month minimum commitment. This is pretty good for me, as the classes I had been doing previously were around £25 each!
Find your community
An important part of committing to exercise is tying it to other people. I find it really helps when I have a friend to go to the gym with, or there are nice people at the classes. Having ADHD means that I can sometimes isolate myself due to anxiety, and going to the classes allows me to have forced human interaction.
For me, having a gym that I can go to that is simply so much fun has made me fall in love with it and feel so much better as a result. I have finally learned what it feels like to regularly exercise out all of the energy that builds up inside me because of my ADHD. It clears my mind and slowly repairs my battered self esteem as I surprise myself with how strong I am becoming.
The secret to cracking life with ADHD is to figure out what makes you thrive, and what lets all of the unique parts of you shine. If you judge a fish on its ability to ride tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid. Find your ocean!
I realise that I probably sound like Gymbox are paying me for this article, but they aren’t! It’s just part of the ADHD to obsess over amazing things and want to share them with others.