Speaking Up for Gym
Gyms come in for a bit of a bashing. Membership costs can be high, client slope off can be rapid, people can feel intimidated by some of the Bunnies & Marys and people say they are bored on the treadmill.
Before someone shouts, ‘Arh but going to the gym doesn’t mean you’re healthier or fitter’, here’s my experience.
Where Solo Works
I admire people who can create a whole exercise programme based from home; whether it’s running or home circuits. I go through phases where I try this and others where I’m not in the least bit interested. Going solo seems to work best when I want to run or the odd kettlebell workout. Even then there’s a goal. So it doesn’t work just for the sake of it. It’s for a purpose and part of a plan.
Why do I like the gym?
For one, like anywhere that has a particular purpose, it allows me to focus. The office allows you to focus on work. The library provides a place of research and study. The gym means good honest hard graft without distraction. There’s also the choice of more equipment than I could possibly own myself. Often there is access to instructors allowing you to focus further on things you want to target (slim down, bulk up, etc). In my case, having a Personal Trainer has meant that I am pushed harder than I would push myself. If you are a singularly focused individual who can push yourself that bit further without someone telling you to, great. I am honest enough with myself to know that I need that extra push. Those pushes that make the difference and return far quicker results than if I were left to my own devices.
I stopped deluding myself that I will use that piece of home gym equipment which is now part of a very expensive herd of clothes horses and dust gatherers. The TV is inundated with commercials for home gym equipment. Most of them giving me the body I’ve always wanted in three minutes a day. Dream on.
Once I know I’m going, an attitude sets in and focus starts. Even if I don’t want to go, there is something about walking through the door where that all changes. I’m there to work hard and if all goes well I’ll do better than last time. I don’t care what that extra bit ends up being just as long as I come away knowing something has improved: my performance, endurance, a minute on a treadmill, a half-kilo on the weights or an extra rep.
Because every visit to the gym is part of feeling better physically I see & feel changes and improvements constantly. At worst, a bad day at the gym is better than having not gone at all. That extra minute on the treadmill is a minute more than last week. That extra rep improves strength and tone. Working with various combinations to tailor and target strength, size and endurance. I feel better functionally (e.g. running for trains or buses, moving furniture). It’s a stress-buster, plus my immune system has improved – bouts of illness niggle me but they don’t bring me down. It’s all a bonus.
Meet Encouraging Strangers
The added bonus here is that random people (meant in a kindly way!) have provided positive feedback, extra encouragement as well as friendly competition. Like any situation where people of common purpose congregate you pick up snippets of information which can be useful and informative. But be wise, you also see a lot of bad form and you will soon recognise those who work well & intelligently.
Home is Where the Heart Is and the Stomach Dines
Feeling healthier definitely increases my desire to eat better. It’s often reported that 80% of your workout results is achieved by what you eat. I control what I eat most when I’m at home. Yes, we all eat on the wrong side of the tracks sometimes. That’s OK (he says, knowing he has recently tickled his tastebuds with more than his fair share of chocolate & ice cream!). What’s not good is eating the bad stuff and then doing nothing to offset it. It is so easy to find yourself steadily eating more and more toot. So I regularly make a rough mental note of what I eat, why I eat it, what it was for and what it did for me. Recognising patterns is a good way to address the bad habits and to reinforce the good ones. The upside of regular exercise is that it increases your metabolism and doing a healthy activity makes you far more aware of what you’re eating. Win-Win! I’ve noticed that the bad eating phases tend to be shorter lived as I quickly recognise the negative effects in my day to day as well as during my workout performance.
So Why Speak Up for Gym?
Eating well combined with regular exercise is good & fundamentally important to everyone’s health. We all know it and it can sound repetitive & boring. Where’s the benefit? Where’s the buzz? For me it’s about honesty in both what I eat and a non-prissy hard workout. If you do both well & consistently you always have a good measure of your level of health, your mental state and progress. It can be used to trim you, bulk you, help understand how your body moves & functions, improve your cardio, focus your eating-habits, as well as be part of a physio/rehabilitation programme, We’re designed to move! So the gym gets my vote. And anyway, I felt Gym needed a good word 🙂