Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rage against the machines

Going back to our exercise guidelines of 5 sets of half an hour of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity”, I just want to talk about something that I’ve never understood. Treadmills, the bikes in the gym and the cross-trainer. Is everyone serious? I see so many people on these and, personally, I could not think of a worse way to spend my time. In fact, those machines are so boring I don't think I've ever managed more than 20 minutes on one but I’ve seen people approaching the 40 minute mark. Well done, I take my metaphorical hat off to you.

Endlessly moving your legs, literally getting nowhere, constantly looking at the time in the hope that more than 10 seconds has passed since I last looked, the worst part of all this is that I'm paying for the privilege. If only there was a free alternative that wasn't as mind-numbingly boring, a free alternative that pits me against the elements, makes me think about which way to turn, let me discover new places and where I can see how far I've been. If only........

Bottom line, take those legs or that bike and get outside. That’s only my opinion obviously but I just think there are a lot more reasons to get outdoors than get in the gym if you’re going to run or cycle. First, you can start straight away. Pop your trainers on, open the door and off you go. And then when you’re finished, you end up right outside that very same door. Go to the gym, though, and you have to walk/bike/drive there, walk in, put on a fake smile as you walk past the receptionist, get changed and then trudge over to the aforementioned exercise machine to finally begin exercising. Only took 10? 20? 30? minutes to get there, and then the same when you’re done.

I know the argument you might come back with. Yes. I know. I’ve heard it before. “...but the good thing about those exercise machines is that you can then do other things in the gym. And they’re a good warm-up.”

First, running and cycling are not a warm-up for lifting weights. The amount of times I hear people say that they use this machine for this reason is amazing. And the look on their face once they’re asked how cycling warms-up their arms for a bicep curl, even better. The only way to warm-up before a certain lift is to perform a similar movement with less resistance.

Are we clear? Good.

Second, unless you want to be the next Mr/Mrs Universe, you don’t need to go to a gym to tone up.

Although it may seem convenient that a lot of fitness facilities are crammed into one, monthly membership required, swanky and shiny place, I believe that most people can get the same, probably better, results from running and cycling outside and then using their own body weight and a set of dumbbells (although this is for another time in another post).

Next argument please.

“...but when it’s cold and raining I prefer to train in the gym.” This is nothing a waterproof coat and a new perspective cannot fix. Forget the cold; you will heat up as you run (change of perspective). And with the rain, you only end up a little more drenched than you would otherwise through sweating anyway. The coat keeps your body dry, your head might get a little wet and at the end of it, you only end up showering all the same, just like you would at the gym (well all those with a sense of personal hygiene).
The bottom line is that running and cycling are free, fun and.....I can’t think of anything beginning with “f”....but you get so much more from them than using aerobic gym equipment. Even the name “aerobic gym equipment” makes me bored. Sorry if I have not convinced you otherwise but I hope I have just emptied the gym and flooded the street with newly converted runners and cyclists.

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