Too often we focus on the action itself as the cause of change when it may well be that the action is a small part and the environment - in this case the gym itself, its spirit, and the people active within it - is the greater influence. When you immerse yourself in surroundings where a higher level of performance than you find "normal" is expected how do you respond? I recall it written in Hagakure that, "The more the water, the higher the boat," a phrase sometimes translated thus, as rises the water, so rises the boat. We are pushed and pulled up by what is around us. While we use physical exercise as the means to express push and pull, and you may see yourself as the boat, the workout is not the water. Instead, the example and expectation of those (we choose to place) around us reshape our own expectations, self-image, behavior and ultimately, character traits.