Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Does Fitness = Gymness? (Part I)

Pretend you're at a dinner party.  Imagine you're standing around the buffet line and making pleasant conversation.  Then imagine that the topic of exercise arises.  You have just met a new gentleman named Bob.  You take note of Bob's bulging biceps, flat stomach and round backside and determine that Bob is in great physical shape.  What do you ask Bob?  I bet you ask, "Which gym do you go to?"  In today's fast-paced, highly specialized and technologized (I made that up) world, fitness seems to always be equated with a gym membership.  This relationship, fitness = gym, is no doubt great for the fitness industry, but it can be discouraging for the majority of Americans who are not gym members.  When gyms have the lock-down on fitness, it tells us that we can only be fit if we're exercising at a gym.  That the only way to get healthier, slimmer, faster, stronger and sexier is to have a membership card and go to a building with fancy machines and equipment, the majority of which no one knows how to use. 

Let's imagine a different Bob.  We'll call him Bobby.  Bobby comes into my office one afternoon and informs me he has just returned from his physician's office.  Bobby is feeling discouraged because his physician is threatening to prescribe medication for Bobby's high blood pressure.  The doctor is giving him a 60 day grace period in which time Bobby has to demonstrate a commitment to exercise and  lose at least 15 pounds.  Bobby is glum.  Typically in this scenario (which is repeatedly almost weekly in my office) I ask Bobby what his exercise program looks like now.  Almost without exception, Bobby will tell me, "I don't exercise at all, I hate the gym."  If I had to estimate, I would say that 85% of my sedentary clients tell me, "I don't exercise because I hate the gym."

This is a problem. 

The gym can be a great tool in a fitness arsenal.  Inside the gym it never rains, is never too hot and there's always TV.  You can run, walk, ride a bike, pump some iron or workout with friends, all in one location.  You can learn new exercise programs from professionals and even hit the sauna.  Gyms can be a great resource.  But fitness doesn't = gym.

Millions of Americans can't afford the cost of a gym membership.  Millions more can't join one even if they can afford the cost because there isn't one in their community.  And more importantly, there are the millions of Americans who wouldn't go to the gym even if was free and next door to their home.  And so we have lots of Bobbies in the world who "don't exercise because they don't like the gym."

So I have good news for those of you who aren't gym members but still want to be healthier, slimmer, faster, stronger and sexier -- fitness does not = gym.  In this week's blog posts, I'm going to give you three simple and inexpensive pieces of equipment you can purchase that will bring the gym -- no, better than the gym -- right to your own home.
Posted by Rachel L. May
School of Health Sciences


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