Getting in Shape After the Holidays
It’s all well and good to pig out over the Holidays. I do it every year. But, when the season is over and it’s time to get in shape, do you have a plan? Lots of people have plans; those plans usually involve gym memberships, fancy cloths (can’t look silly in front of the mirror you know) or other prerequisite equipment. Sometimes people get really motivated and tell themselves they’re going to run a marathon or an Iron-Man, or something like that, in the New Year. I think resolutions are great; fitness resolutions are equally great. They’re funny too. The length to which people go to get in shape is ridiculous. Watching the little hamsters on the treadmills is a great pastime of mine when I’m at the gym watching my sons’ gymnastics class. It’s so cute to see them toiling uselessly. I know the secret to getting fit. It has nothing to do with gym memberships. Resolutions? Yes. Equipment, clothing and wasted time? No.
If you’re the kind of person who has to motivate yourself every day to go workout then a gym membership is the last thing you should get. The time needed to get a good workout at a gym is frequently about 2 hours. Between getting dressed to workout, preparing the babysitting duties, driving to the facility, actually doing the workout and driving home, you’ve wasted a good portion of your day. Single people who don’t have jobs might have that sort of time. Parents and people who work don’t. The dropout rate at gyms is phenomenal, and it’s not surprising considering how many good reasons there are to talk yourself out of going.
Germs: You’ll get sick in a gym. It’s bad enough hanging around a bunch of sweaty Neanderthals without having to touch them. But to use the same gross equipment, after it’s been insufficiently sanitized, is just a recipe for illness. Again, you’re a parent so you aren’t allowed to get sick. Another reason to skip the gym.
Expensive: Since when did getting in shape require 100 dollars a month? That’s money better spent on your kids’ cloths and food.
Fancy Home Equipment:
Let’s say you realize that gym memberships are stupid wastes of money. Still, your idea of getting fit requires a fancy piece of gym-like equipment, perhaps a treadmill. Treadmills, rowing machines, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes have several noticeable drawbacks.
They’re Expensive: You saved money on the gym membership, but you spent it all on one machine instead. Don’t you feel dumb?
You Won’t Use It: Don’t fool yourself; machines are boring under the best circumstances. They’re unbearably boring in a basement, staring at a wall. That iPod you bought to relieve yourself of the boredom is a silly investment too. More senseless expenses (seriously? A dollar per song?). How many times have you visited someone’s house and seen their treadmill being used as a coat rack?
The Problem With Running:
Jogging is a great exercise. Unfortunately people take it way to seriously. Let’s bear in mind that almost every animal on the planet runs faster than a human. There’s nothing particularly special about a person running. Yet, for some reason, every yahoo with a competitive streak thinks he looks awesome to the ladies running around town in tights. Like I said, running is great. Just don’t take it seriously.
The Clothing and Equipment Problem: I used to show up at races wearing basketball shorts and a regular t-shirt looking like I just crawled out of bed and stumbled to the starting line. Naturally everyone would think I was just running for fun. Then I’d win the race. I showed up at a 5k looking like that once and pushing a double running stroller (containing my two boys). I figured I’d still win the race so I lined up in front. The whole front row, wearing their Nike crap, yelled at me to get to the back. I told them not to worry, that there was no way I’d be in there way. I won that race by more than a minute and nobody ever passed me (under 17 minutes pushing a stroller). I don’t own any running cloths. I’ve got a pair of shoes. That’s it.
The real secret to fitness doesn’t have anything at all to do with equipment or preparation. It has everything to do with making a resolution to do something manageable with your life and getting started. You don’t need much money, time or space to get in shape. Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion to this piece, Executing a Successful Fitness Plan.