The Gym: Who Needs It, Really?

Cut the excuses and costs. All you need is your living room.

Written by Jay Ray

By the time you get your things together and drive to the gym, you could have already worked out. That’s not even counting the time you might waste negotiating waiting lines at the gym during peak hours. Look, I’m not fundamentally opposed to gyms; this is no rant aimed at bringing down the industry. But the idea that they are integral to the process of fitness, and the expenses involved, might be counterproductive to actually getting in shape. There are other, more time-efficient, less expensive options.

Why do we go to the gym? Is it because we believe they have resources we need that are beyond our budgets? Do we feel that signing up for a membership will forge a commitment that will serve as motivation? Are we under the impression that we are joining a pleasant, like-minded society where we can meet and interact with a dashing crowd? There is,  I believe, folly to these preconceptions — and I want to debunk them.

If you are in your late teens or early twenties and financially solvent: congratulations. But for the majority, disposable income is a concept more than a reality. And any peripheral monthly expense can put undue strain on already tight finances. I must concede that gym memberships can readily be found at reasonable rates (I’ve seen them as low as twenty  dollars a month), but there are considerations of start up fees and, also, the resources of time and fuel spent driving there. In the photo that accompanies this blog, you see the equipment that I own and work out with — at home. Total, I spent well under two hundred dollars to obtain these things. You don’t need unweildy monstrosities of steel and iron; you need dumbbells. And gone are the days of racks and racks of dumbbells; you can find affordable, space efficient adjustable sets with enough weight to keep up with advances in strength. With two adjustable dumbells, you have a wold of versatility. Check out these instructional viideos from our friends at Nerd Fitness, and note how many involve dumbells. Can’t afford them yet? I promise you that you will start getting in shape with burpees, which are the push-up from hell.

As for the idea that signing a membership will act as a spur of commitment that gets you to the gym, this might be flawed reasoning. For some, this psychological manipulation might work, but for others it could just become a sort of obligation that leads to resentment. And that can lead to a cancellation of membership. And besides, if we need to guilt ourselves into working out, perhaps the sight of equipment staring back at us in our homes might be better motivation. Of course, those dumbells in the closet could easily become just part of the scenery — not too much different than  membership cards tucked away in our purses and wallets. My point is this: let’s not confuse membership with commitment; we must find motiviation from within.

For me, the reality of a gym is kind of like the reality of a nude beach: not as appealling as one might anticipate. Seriously, though, subjegation to bad music and sweat-stenched locker rooms filled with people in various states of undress — I had more than enough of that in high school. Now, most individuals I’ve encountered at gyms have been considerate, pleasant enough people. However, it is a strange place filled with mirrors and an atmosphere of preening self-involvement — which is fine, but there really isn’t any engaging social setting. I mean, with new interests, we naturally want to meet others who share those interests, right? Counterintuitively, the gym is not conducive to this; it is a place of isolation. You can do that at home — with fewer distractions and better music.

Though I’ve cracked some jokes at the expense of gyms, my sincerity lies in helping you find affordable, available means to worthwhile goals. Make a commitment to yourself, and then find options that work best for your budget and your schedule. Do you live in an apartment? If so, there’s a good chance that there is a serviceable gym there — and you already have a membership. Are you enrolled in college? Your student ID is likely a membership to the gym on campus. Do you have two arms and two legs? The burpee is one bad…


Posted on March 26, 2012, in Fitness, Fitness and Nutrition, Physical Health, Work Out and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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