Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blasphemy? I Joined a Gym

Say it ain't so! I've joined a gym.

I used to belong to a gym -- two actually -- but dropped those memberships last fall. I belonged to a full-service gym, but it was a bit far from my house, and the upkeep of equipment was getting to be an issue. The other one was a bargain gym that I used for access to a treadmill. But I really prefer running outside, and as FftRG readers know, I've become a big proponent of bodyweight exercises -- which you can do anywhere you have a six-by-two area of clear space.

But the New York Sports Club near my house was running a special, and it's really dirt cheap. So my favorite Regular Gal and I took the plunge.


Now wait a second, you might be saying. Isn't this a sellout? Doesn't it contradict the FftRG ethos? I say no. One of the key aspects of being a Regular Guy is that you should do what works for you. Yes, you can accomplish a lot by simply using your own bodyweight. But that doesn't mean it's the only way to do it, and it doesn't mean you can accomplish everything. For example, there's simply no substitute for lifting heavy stuff, no matter how many pushups you can bang out or how long you can hold a plank.

Belonging to a gym has some other benefits, too:
  • You have more flexibility. There's nothing stopping you from doing your bodyweight routine at the gym. But you have free weights, Hammer Strength machines, Smith machines, nautilus machines, medicine balls, kettlebells and lots of other stuff right at your fingertips.
  • You don't have to worry about the weather. OK, so in true Andrew fashion, I went through basically the whole winter, then joined a gym. But it's nice to know that I can still run even if it's frigid, pouring rain or whatever.
  • You'll learn stuff. You'll pick up lots of ideas just by watching other people at the gym. And most people, I've found, are happy to offer you a tip if you ask.
  • You'll be more disciplined. It's easy to slack off -- in both intensity and frequency. Paying a membership -- even a cheap one -- gives you some skin in the game. So you'll be motivated to go. And I find that when there are other people around me working hard, I'm less likely to take shortcuts.
Now the gym isn't for everyone, and that's OK. Perhaps you just don't have the time -- or at least free time when the gym is open. Maybe nobody's running a good deal in your area and you'd rather do crunches than lay out $30 or more a month. You may not feel comfortable leaving your kid in the gym's daycare -- if the gym has one. Not every gym will have the equipment you're looking for. And some people are just really self-conscious and don't feel comfortable at the gym -- especially when there are a ton of gym rats hanging around. 

But the most important thing for any Regular Guy to remember is that as long as you're getting your heart rate up and tearing some muscle fibers -- and you're keeping good form to prevent injury -- there's no bad way to exercise. It all depends on you, your likes, your dislikes, your goals and how things fit into your life.

So I joined a gym. And I'm good with it.

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