You made the decision to get into better physical shape. Fantastic! The next decision to make is where you want to work out – the gym or at home? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. So, let’s discuss.
The Gym – The Advantages:
A gym or health club or whatever you want to call it is an all-you-ever-wanted workout facility. You don’t have to buy a thing. The gym has every piece of equipment you could ever think of to lift weights, but it also has treadmills, aerobics classes, yoga classes and spinning classes. Some gyms have indoor swimming pools so you can take workout classes in the water. This is especially good for people with bad backs, knees or hips. My particular gym also has judo, boxing and MMA fighting classes as well as saunas, a masseuse (costs extra), and basketball and volleyball courts. Check out the gyms in your area to see exactly what they offer.
The best part about a gym, especially when you’re new, is they have trainers. Usually when you join a gym, they will offer you a free training session or two. While they can certainly give you a workout, may I suggest that you have them walk you around and show you how to use every piece of equipment. Find out what the machine is called, what muscles they work, and how to properly use them. Some machines have that information written right on the equipment. Some don’t. When I first joined a gym, I didn’t ask those questions. I had to keep coming up to the trainers and pestering them. If the trainers are busy with paying customers, they don’t have the time to help.
If you have the money, trainers are the best way to get you started. You don’t have to read a book that tells you how to exercise, they already know and will put you through the paces. When picking a trainer, make sure they specifically understand what your goal is. Is it to lose weight? Gain muscle? Become more cardiovascularly fit? Rehab your knee? Also, make sure you tell your trainer if you have any impairment in any part of your body and your level of experience in a gym. The idea is to get fit, not get hurt.
One thing that you absolutely cannot find at home is the energy that’s in a gym. Everyone is sweating and pumping iron and working hard. That creates an electric atmosphere. My workouts are always more focused and intense at the gym. I also finish my workouts faster as I don’t have the phone ringing or any other distractions.
Gyms are also good places to meet other people who are looking to get healthy. These people can become your friends and help you meet your goals. Additionally, they can keep you consistently coming back. I can’t begin to tell you how much good-hearted grief I get from people if I miss a day at the gym. It makes me wonder if there’s some sort of phone tree or smoke signal system that lets everyone know. But that’s a good thing! I know they care.
For the people with children, most gyms offer babysitting services as part of your monthly fee. How great is that? Your child gets to play with other kids in a supervised setting while you work out uninterrupted under the same roof. Not only does this remove the excuse that you can’t work out because of your children, but you become a role model by showing them that taking care of your health is important. Who knows, they may even start begging you to take them to the gym!
Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 of this article which talks about the disadvantages of the gym and the pros and cons of working out at home.
Until then… keep up the good work and remember that there are no excuses!