So it’s the new years and people are flocking to the gyms in droves. Most of them are people who’ve led a chronically unhealthy lifestyle. Suddenly they realize how unhealthy they’ve been and they think signing up for a gym membership is the way to go.
For many, this is a complete waste of money!
Do I need a gym membership??
The simple answer: No. You can get healthy at home if you care enough to stick with something. There’s a ton of exercises you can do without expensive/worthless equipment or a gym membership! If you’re just starting to learn how to work out, here’s where you start. Your body is weak and inexperienced. The last thing you want to do is jump on a bunch of equipment and overload your limited muscles. Free weights may be even worse if you haven’t taught your body how to move properly. Until you reach the point where the bodyweight exercises are too easy, that when you look into alternatives. Before then, a gym is a complete waste.
What are the best bodyweight exercises?
Mark’s Daily Apple has many to choose from. Perhaps give the nerd version a try for the really light weights. If you have access to some equipment, here’s some more advanced stuff. As you get more stronger, try Mark’s prison workout. If you can afford a sandbag, you got yourself a party! Beginners don’t need dumbbells, you can use just about anything. Milk jugs are a good thing to start with. As long as you can safely grip it and move it, it’s a weight. Once milk is too light, you can fill it with sand! Use your imagination. Don’t have a pull-up bar? No problem! I personally love to find stuff to grab onto and use a pull-up bar. Playground equipment always has something to hang from. Are you a fan of running? Unless it’s freezing cold or hot outside, get out and enjoy the outdoors! I love running on a forest trail, enjoying the sounds and smells of nature. A treadmill is just plain boring. My personal suggestion is to learn how to squat. It’s a very simple but powerful move you do every single day. It’s very easy to do, just pretend like you’re sitting down. As a starting point, see if you can do, say, 20 in a row. Can’t do that? Do 10 in a row. Can’t do that? 5. Start somewhere small and go from there. Do a simple routine 2-3 times a week. You can more than likely do it right this second. Just stand up! You don’t have to be covered in sweat, just move, damnit! Your muscles will slowly adapt and build and it will get easier.
Why bother getting a gym membership?
For the beginners, you just don’t need a gym. Concentrate on improving your diet and basic exercises before you look for a gym. Once you’re confident that body weight exercises are too easy, then you can think about upgrading. Here’s a few of the reasons to drop the cash on a gym membership:
- Bodyweight exercises are too easy
- You need access to real weights and equipment. (Free weights ideally)
- You like to use amenities like the pool, the spa, the steam room, the classes, etc.
- You want to work out as a group/class. (This can work for women especially)
- Personal trainers, which may or may not be showing you the ideal workout. (More on that in a minute)
However, there’s also some alternatives. If you’re really serious about using weights, you could get a simple home gym for cheap off Craigslist. A simple squat rack and a set of decent weights would be cheaper in the long run compared to a gym membership. Plus you wouldn’t need to leave home to workout! You could also see if a friend has equipment you could use. Perhaps they live at an apartment that has those amenities? Why not use them? It might be harder to use consistently, but if you friend is a “workout buddy“, you can both keep each other accountable!
A note on personal trainers:
When you pay the extra money to get a personal trainer, there’s a few caveats. Personal trainers are usually salespeople first, fitness experts second. Generally, they’ll give you a low-end set of exercises that almost anyone can do, but they’re not effective. I honestly believe they’ll tell you to do certain exercises that are meant to be difficult to remember and hard to keep proper form because it will discourage people. Think about it, the gym (as a company) tells their trainers to use a specially designed workout regimen that is difficult to follow and is not meant to produce results. It is either forgotten or not properly done by the gym-goer. If the person finds it too hard or too unsatisfying, they’ll stop doing it and likely stop going to the gym for a time. This means the gym will get their money regardless (via contracts). Fewer people will reduce the operation costs of maintaining and powering the equipment. Thus, you make the gym-goer discouraged, you make more money overall. Simple business tactics.
Besides, what most trainers won’t tell you is that the exercises they tell clients to do is rarely what they’ll do themselves! No matter the exercise, you have to start small and work your way up. That’s what the trainers had to do too. Long story short, I don’t think people need personal trainers.
Personal trainers or form-coaches?
On the other hand, if you can find someone who is an expert on form, go for it. That’s what I’m doing right now. I have a guy who is “International Sports Sciences Association” certified and he trains some of the country’s top weight lifters. He knows his stuff and he’s corrected a lot of my bad postures and form. I feel like I’m almost starting from scratch, but at least I’ll be confident that I won’t hurt myself when I get to higher weights. I had to practically forget everything I THOUGHT I knew about proper form. Sure, I could lift a lot of weight before, but if I’ve got bad form: I’m just asking for an injury! You can only learn so much about form from the internet. If you want to get serious, you need to have a form-coach to see directly how you are doing it and show you how to perfect it. It’s something that takes years for those who are serious. If you’re not exercising regularly, you’re missing out. Start small and make it a habit. A habit becomes a lifestyle that will last you the rest of your life! Your friend, -Yossifpic credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a1/Weighted_sit-ups_on_an_exercise_ball.jpg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Doug%27s_Gym_Inside.jpg