Dim View From The Gym

As a fitness professional, I probably should not be saying this, it’s not like it’s helpful to me or will improve my chances of gaining more clients, but here it is; gyms are boring. That’s all. It takes immense discipline to maintain and repeat – forever – whilst also trying to improve, a routine that involves movements that you do not do in any other facet of your life, except for the treadmill and that is a god awful machine that allows you to believe you are fitter than you actually are.
I do use the gym, both personally and professionally, and thanks to experience and accumulated knowledge, have generally managed to keep it from being too repetitive and dull. I did even for a while get sucked into the trap of trying to lift increasing amounts of weight – definitely something that appeals to the male ego – but soon nixed that as I found my shirts and jackets getting more and more snug of fit.
Machine weights are probably the dullest thing, though for a gym novice I would still initially advise machine weights, the reason being they are safer and can build strength before progressing to more complex movements. You still have to push through the mind-numbing boredom of doing the machine stuff first.
Personally, I feel for fitness, one should learn to manipulate their own bodyweight first. Classic exercise staples such as push-ups, squats, lunges, triceps dips, supine hip raise, plank, back raises, abdominal work, before moving on to weighted resistance. Bodyweight exercises not only can improve fitness, but they allow you to understand your body better, its planes of movement and capabilities. Advancement or improvement can involve more complex varieties of the basic exercises, explosive plyometric exercises or callisthenics.
With the exception of the rowing machine, most cardio exercises are more beneficial when done outdoors. Understandably, that is not always possible or doable, but when an option, I would deem it preferable – I am a person who prefers and have run outdoors in the middle of winter, rather than plod on a treadmill! – in terms of fitness benefits. You only have to run a mile on a treadmill and run a mile around a park to feel and compare the difference. Cycling, whilst not to dissimilar indoors, is still more of a challenge outside.
The elliptical machine or cross trainer. Hmm. This probably my least favourite machine period. Unless carrying an injury or you have knee problems, I see no reason to head to this horrible piece of apparatus, beloved by so many gym ‘enthusiast’. Admittedly, the cross trainer is better than no exercise at all. I just feel that far too many never progress beyond the comfort of forty-five minutes on the cross trainer.
For shaping the body and increasing overall strength, gym machine workouts are perfectly acceptable. They are also good for body maintenance when you’ve reached a good level of fitness and want an easier workout day. It is still boring.
Like play was in childhood, getting fit and keeping fit should be fun, if not fun whilst doing it, it should at least feel like an accomplishment, making you want to return and challenge yourself again and again. Obviously people are different and some prefer the comfort of repetition, that know what is coming, but to truly improve you need the challenge, the surprise, the doubt that makes you wonder if your body will do what you want. That is why marathons are so popular, most participants know they can run or walk, they’re just not one hundred percent confident they can do it for forty-two kilometres.
There are those people like the gym. They enjoy the routine and get results through their diligence. As a person who has worked in a gym for many years, the true regular, machine loving, gym goer – year round, not just pre-holiday – is rare. We have older members who attend the gym regularly in a maintenance fashion, but the most hardcore gym people are the free weights users – though my gym only has a small free weights section and they mostly have piss poor gym etiquette! Different blog – these are the gym users who seem to enjoy the process the most.
A gym workout is not for everyone, just as running around the park or pounding the streets is not everyone’s bag. Fitness and the road to it can take many forms, find one and stick with. If it doesn’t work you can always join a gym.

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