As January comes to a close, I've got one more fitness-themed blog for you. Hopefully, your resolution is still holding steady. If you've been stealthy, you have most likely established a new habit – so, congrats! Whatever you resolved for 2012 – keep it up and make it happen.
Gyms are icky.
I don't even need to physically step into one for the sensory recall to kick in. The feeling of the damp air stewing with germs, the smell of sweat mixed with weight plates and mats, the sounds of grunting, panting humans and clanging metal all set to a vomitous soundtrack that, if I'm lucky, won't leak through the playlist I've got pumping through over-sized headphones into my auditory system in order to protect me from this assault.
I've had more than my share of gym "ick" in a personal and professional gym-going odyssey spanning over the last 20 years.
I've had enough of wasting precious minutes of my day commuting to a communal bacterial stew that could instead be spent ACTUALLY working out and getting it over with.
The gym is not my social hour. I am there to get my fitness on and then get on with my life. I signal this with a dark baseball cap pulled low over my eyes and headphones protecting my ears before I even walk through the door. (YES, to clarify, wearing a low cap and headphones means I don't want to talk to you or get your advice on my workout form.)
I realize there is a culture of gym rats out there that multi-task gym time as social time, but isn't that what bars are for?
I will occasionally go to yoga shalas and boutique fitness studios for classes like boot camps, barre method, specialized yoga and indoor cycling. I suck it up for the motivation of a group atmosphere every once in a while. But, the time and gas wasted commuting makes the issue of practicality start sweating out of my pores more than the actual workout would.
I've come to the conclusion that unless I can walk to the gym in under 10 minutes, (warm up and cool down – check) I'm just not going to go.
So I don't. My home has become my gym. I've collected enough DVDs and minimal equipment to perform all sorts of fitness craziness without having to walk through my front door. No bundling up, no having to start the car, no public showers, no having to drive home in drenched clothes. Just wake up, work out.
Working out at home allows me the flexibility and freedom to do any movement I please without fear of leering eyes or judgy bystanders. (Like jumping on my trampoline with a sandbag. Wait – please don't try that at YOUR home. I take no responsibility for injuries incurred being a workout moron like me.) In-home personal trainers also have this liberty, which is why I prefer the domestic locale to train and be trained.
Plus, I don't feel the need to bathe in hand sanitizer when I work out in my own domain. A towel (for those who are courteous enough to utilize one) does not provide ample sanitization on equipment – especially when you are wiping your sweat and snot with it and then placing it back down on whatever handles, bench or mat you were using. When I put my towel (with my crap on it) down on whatever surface after you've been using it (even with YOUR towel on it) aren't your germs just going to get on my towel? It's an endless cycle of unwanted microorganism exchange. I refuse to believe that a towel provides a sufficient barrier against transmitting any sort of "ewwwww" in the gym. In fact, I know of several unfortunate cases of skin dwelling bacteria passed through gym mats and equipments. Super duper YUCKO!
I cannot leave this manifesto as a simple rant. I therefore offer you some tips to become a part of the home gym revolution too!
Ditch the monthly dues and invest in a few items to transform whatever area you designate into your own private gym! And remember to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or physical fitness program to ensure your safety.
First, define your space. Ideally, it should be interruption-free and big enough for you to move back and forth and side to side, and to lie down and stand up without obstacle. Have a DVD player/TV, stereo system or computer nearby for instructional materials and your tunes. Holster the cell phone, occupy the kids and tell the significant other you are going to have a little "me" time.
Next – dress properly. Bonus to NOT hauling to the gym? You don't need to worry about dressing up. Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for your activity. Be sure to wear the proper footwear (or not, my barefoot wonders) for your flooring and activity.
Then - gear up. A well-rounded fitness program includes cardio, strength and flexibility training. I like to add in some mindfulness for a fit brain too. Besides a mat, towel and water bottle, here are some of my favorite items to outfit your home gym:
Turbo Fire from Beachbody: This kickboxing program has an amazing soundtrack and several options for time duration from 15 minutes to a full hour of heart-pumping cardio.
Jump Sport Fitness Trampoline: A great non-impact way to get your heart rate up. This is not your mother's mini-tramp. This is a full-on smaller version of the big boys found in backyards. The construction of this bounce fest can handle up to 250 pounds and will get you a ton of air, so be sure to have proper ceiling clearance.
Regular old chair: This works well for cardio and strength training. An aluminum foldable one will do, but I prefer something sturdier like a dining room chair with an upright back. Use it for repeating step-ups, touch downs, incline and decline pushups and barre work, among many, many other utilizations.
Sandbag: A functional fitness must-have, the multiple grip options and progressable, adjustable weight of these hoistable sacks train every muscle in your body and have the desirable side effect of being cardiovascular too! I like the fillable 40-pound, smaller SKLZ bag and the longer, fillable-up-to-70-pounds Brute Force Sandbag. (See my review of both in tomorrow's OnMilwaukee.com Recommends. Programs to follow are available on both companies' websites or check out BodyRock.tv for workouts that regularly feature sandbag exercises.
Ugi at Home system: Total body cardio/strength circuits that take only 30 minutes. This system has everything you need to get total body fit at home. See my review in last week's OnMilwaukee.com Recommends.
Physique 57 and Tracy Anderson Method Workouts: Both of these DVD programs are comprehensive "barre" workouts that blend cardio, resistance and flexibility training using your body weight, a chair and light weights. If long and lean is what you are after – these will deliver.
For Flexibility and the mind:
Yoga Strap: Extend your limbs and therefore your range of motion in stretches. Lose the ego on how far you are going and instead utilize the yoga strap (or men's necktie) to perform muscle-lengthening drills. Just google "stretching with a strap" for tons of ideas.
The Ultimate Yogi DVD Set: Touted as P90X for yogis, this is the first all-encompassing yoga lifestyle DVD program that includes all the components of fitness plus meditation. I am starting this program this week! You can follow my experience at hundredeightdays.blogspot.com.
YouTube five-minute meditations: Take five minutes first thing in the morning and before bed – heck, even at work – to meditate. If you don't know how, YouTube has some great quickie tutorials that will walk you through each step. Search "five-minute meditations" to find a bevy to choose from.
Try to fit in a bit of each component each day or do cardio one day, flexibility the next and follow that with resistance for a three-day cycle. Regardless of the order or what you choose to do, do something! And no pressure to buy new toys. You probably have fitness equipment laying around that you promised yourself you would use, but you don't. Dust it off and make it happen. Even for five or ten minutes to start.
And if you have no equipment – no worries. You can still achieve all the fitness components using only your body for bodyweight training exercises. Get ideas from the web and YouTube by googling "bodyweight exercises."
There are tons of other options out there for home fitness, but just like going to an icky gym – you've got to do it to get results. So enlist a friend or join an online exercise forum for support.
Got questions? Reach out to me via email or on Twitter!
Kick the "ick!" Get toned at home!
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