“I know I should exercise,” a good friend of mine was lamenting to me late last week, “but I really hate going to gyms.” I have to admit, my initial response to this was incredulity – even in my much heavier days (when I had a BMI of 35, very little of which was due to muscle!), I still loved the gym environment. There’s something about being able to pit myself against machines that really kicks in my stubborn streak. Something in me clicks and I downright *refuse* to let the machines win. But to be honest, she’s not the first person I’ve heard say this.
So I started asking around, and quickly found that my friend wasn’t the only person who thought this way. Reasons for avoiding the gym varied, but they seemed to fall into one of four categories:
To quote one person, “Having to sit where other people have been sweating just grosses me out!”
If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, the yearly cost of a gym can feel totally unjustifiable
The hassle of taking time out of an already overloaded schedule, not just to work out, but the travel time too
4. EMBARRASSMENT FACTOR:
The worry that everyone else on the floor will be either muscle-men or toned, tanned gym-bunnies who’d react with either disgust or derision to any less-than-perfect newbie with the audacity to profane their hallowed halls
Now, I could answer almost all of these objections (except for No. 2 – even I can accept that if the money genuinely won’t stretch, it just won’t stretch) with the suggestion that you just need to choose the right gym (both location and clientele-wise) for you, and follow basic gym etiquette (like always keeping a towel between you and the equipment).
There may, of course, be other reasons I haven’t covered as well. If you like the idea of working out in a gym, but can’t (for whatever reason), please contact me, and I’ll try to come up with a solution for you. However, that’s not what this article’s about. And the good news is, we don’t actually need to find solutions in the first place! Why? Because you really don’t *need* to go to a gym to get – or keep – fit.
Contrary to advertising image claims, gyms *don’t* have a monopoly on people’s ability to move; and that’s all exercise really is. Movement and activity is what’s important to our health, not when and where we do it. We just need to make sure we get enough of it in
Current ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines suggest that, in order to simply be healthy, you need to move aerobically for 40-60 minutes (not necessarily all at once), 3-5 times each week. If your goal is to lose weight, not just maintain your health, then this needs to happen no less than 5 times per week (although, if you’ve been inactive for some time, you may well need to build up gently to this level!) On top of this, research shows the need to include regular resistance training to help strengthen bones (especially in women), and to help offset (or even reverse) the damage caused by aging.
It sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? Even with all the equipment of a gym available, it can take a little practice for newcomers to create routines that give them all the benefits of the strength and aerobic activities without eating into too much of their valuable time. It can be even harder to manage outside of a gym environment.
With a little planning, however, it is possible to get the activity you need to meet these guidelines without having to sign up for a gym, and Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at how you can do this.
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