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Myth: To maximize your workout, join a gym

Gym membership has risen significantly over the last 10 years – from about 36 million people to 48 million!  Many experts speculate that the market is still not saturated, so membership rates are expected to rise for several years.

Clearly, many people out there subscribe to the idea that gyms are necessary to be healthy.  Let me say that I don’t want to discount the benefits, such as:

  • Gyms offer a huge variety of ways to exercise. They have classes, weight machines, cardio machines and exercise professionals on site.
  • They have good ventilation and personal televisions to keep you comfortable and entertained.

But, when you discount the frills and get down to the bare bones, gyms are merely rooms with equipment that we don’t need.  Unless you’re joining for the classes, you could be saving around $1200 per year!  Exercise research clearly indicates that gym members are not necessarily in better shape than at-home exercisers.  So, it doesn’t have to be costly to be effective.

To workout at home, you need smarts and strategy.

Smarts:

  • Listen to your body; if an exercise hurts, stop doing it.
  • Find creative ways to engage in weight bearing exercise.  Try:
  • Using your body weight as resistance.  Google it – there are a million free videos.
  • Exercise bands.  You’ll pay about $20-$30 for a full set.
  • Using technology. There are free exercise programs on demand, you can rent videos on Netflix, or you can buy exercise DVDs to do in your own home.
  •  Using your body weight as resistance.  Google it – there are a million free videos.

Strategy:

  • Choose activities that you like to do.  It’ll make you more likely to do it!   I like to hike, swim, bike, and run but that’s not for everyone and I can’t do all those things year round in the northeast.
  • Plan for inclement weather or cold seasons.  I purchased an elliptical off craigslist.  It’s not a top-of-the-line machine, but it gets the job done and in a single winter, it already paid for itself in gym memberships.
  • Plan for times of diminished motivation.  One technique that has been shown to be effect: join other exercisers.  If you’re expected to be somewhere (i.e. meet up for group exercise), research shows you’re more likely to go.  Check out the Road Runners in your neighborhood or find a group on meetup.com.

This week i started running outside again, and though my elliptical will sit around and collect dust for most of the summer, it’ll be there when i want it.

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