New Year's celebrations are behind us, leaving only the resolutions to eat better and get fit. Don't worry, we're here to help. This week – Healthy Living Week, brought to you by The Milwaukee Y – we will focus on articles and information about exercise, eating right and staying healthy in a variety of ways.
Here are two realities that can stand in the way of working out: there are a million different options out there and many of them cost a lot of money.
While neither of those is necessarily prohibitive – you can certainly run outside or do isometrics in the living room or join a YMCA on the cheap – the paradox of choice and the fact that you’re going to have to pay for what you choose can be dissuasive when deciding if you want to try Zumba or CrossFit or Petsercise or whatever else that charges an exorbitant amount because of the Big Fitness lobby’s commodification of society’s obsession with bodies and physical appearance and … whoops, sorry.
(Does four pushups to work off stress)
Anyway, it’s too bad because trying new things is the best way to get in shape, both in terms of effectiveness and fun-ness. Studies have shown that a varied exercise regimen with diverse challenges is key to improving fitness and sticking with the program.
On that note, the ubiquitous daily deals companies can help solve the problems of too-much selection and too-high price. Groupon Milwaukee lists nearly 270 health and fitness options, most of which offer at least 50 percent off. LivingSocial has a few dozen more, and there are similar websites that provide other opportunities to lift barbells like an old-fashioned bodybuilder.
While all of that may seem like precisely the problem of overwhelming choice, it's easy to filter by location, activity, schedule, price, etc. And the idea is just to use the deals that catch your eye – whoa, hey, backwards running group training at an abandoned warehouse in Bay View! – as a not-terrible reason to give an otherwise-unappealing workout a go.
But seriously, my mom, a Groupon disciple, is a strong proponent of this approach to exercise. She’s used numerous deals over the past few years to get gym memberships, take new classes, self-flagellate via boot camp and explore different or unusual training sessions. Recently, she bought one for 9Round and is now doing kickboxing for the first time in her life – and loving it.
The dabble-and-save tactic has not only gotten her in great shape, but it's also gotten a former marathoner to broaden her physical horizons. She's had some dud buys, of course, but at least they've been more interesting experiences than jogging around the neighborhood or curling 10-pound weights over and over.
I’ve done the deals-for-deltoids thing, as well, having once purchased a Groupon for hot yoga (I know, not exactly a manly muscle-maker). I was initially intrigued by it ... and then quickly glad I didn’t feel compelled to go again. See ya later forever, sweat pond!
My mom says she likes the coupons because they encourage experimentation but remove the excuse of something being too expensive to give it a shot. And if the trial doesn’t go well, there’s no contractual or sunk-cost obligation to continue doing it.
Along the way, she meets new people, some of whom she likes (the cute trainers that are nice) and some of whom she doesn’t (the young girls that do everything too fast). She learns what she enjoys and what movements most benefit her body and mind. And she doesn’t spend a bunch of money on something she eventually loathes or gives up.
Which is good, because it’s impossible not to hate hot yoga.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.