After being dependent on a health club for nearly 30 years to stay fit, I am finally gym free, exercising at home and healthier than I have ever been.
My inspiration for simple--but intense--home workouts came one day at the gym, where I noticed an incredibly fit woman, alone in the darkened Spin room, doing incredibly difficult things (like one-handed push-ups with her legs spread wide).
When she finished, I went up to her and grilled her: what was she doing? How did she know what to do? How often did she do it? Anastasia’s answers motivated me, and she encouraged me to re-think my exercise routine. Doing so allowed me to drop my gym membership, a goal of mine for many years.
Here are seven good reasons for you to quit your fitness center (or not join one) in the coming year. Stay tuned for future blog posts that will focus on HOW to accomplish this while improving your overall physical fitness.
It saves time. I was shocked when Anastasia told me that she only worked out about 45 minutes, a few times a week. How could that be? My fitness routine always included “at least 30 minutes of cardio” on a machine before doing any strength training, plus stretching and abs. But she echoed what my physical therapist told me, and I have read since: short, intense interval training is better than long, constant-heart-rate cardio exercise that mainstream fitness gurus have promoted for years. Also, by including core work in most exercises, there is no need for separate core exercises. Many exercises can incorporate upper and lower body work simultaneously. Finally, working out at home saves travel time.
It saves money. With today’s economy, we are all looking for ways to save money. If your gym costs $50 per month, that’s $600 per year. While that’s a reasonable price for good health, remember that this fee is forever, as long as you want to stay fit. So, if you will be exercising for 10 more years, it will cost $6,000 (more, with inflation). Another 20 years? That’s over $12,000. For 30 years that's a whopping $18,000.
It’s better for your car. How far do you drive to the gym? If it is 10 miles away, assuming 4 visits a week, the 20-mile round trip would add over 4,100 miles to your car annually and cost hundreds of dollars a year in gas.
It’s better for your children. Do you have little ones that join you at the gym? If so, consider how a home workout might help them. By allowing Junior to dabble with you and your dumbbells at home, you can inspire good exercise habits in him and skip the germ-filled, TV-focused daycare that most health clubs offer.
It’s better for your home. With the time I save not visiting the gym, I spend more time cleaning and gardening--two activities that also keep me fit, save money and care for our home.
It’s good practice for the future. For those of us who, um, feel bleak about the future of our country, consider the possibility that when the U.S. economy finally tumbles off the financial cliff (not a question of “if” but “when”), health clubs may become prohibitively expensive or go out of business, or you might need to wait in a long security checkpoint to get there. When that time comes, those who are able to stay fit at home will be better prepared than those who rely on Stairmasters or step classes to be well.
It’s better for your soul. Most importantly--and I’m going out on a limb here--the most important reason to ditch the gym is because it’s not biblical. The modern-day health club is a descendant of the original gymnasium, a Greek invention where men participated nude in a variety of activities (read between the lines).
Today, the gym is a place where scantily-clad strangers gather in very close personal proximity, wearing what they would not wear in public, while listening to music and watching TV shows that reflect today’s pagan culture of death, depravity and promiscuity. (Although I have watched a Bible teaching or two from the elliptical machine.)
I am not saying belonging to a health club is a sin. However, working out at home has allowed me some distance from that dark culture, a time to enjoy cranking my favorite worship music, and even occasionally dancing like David danced, in the privacy of my own home.
Of course I didn't leave the gym without advance planning and intentionality. Moving cross country also helped me make a fresh start. In future posts I will provide practical tips for planning and making this radical switch.