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I got a really funny meme at the beginning of the year via WhatsApp that perfectly captured the financial status of gym owners in January. The picture was a screen-grab of Saul the Lawyer’s bodyguard Huell (from Breaking Bad) getting cozy on the stacks of dollar bills Walter White had earned from his ‘cooks’. There is this misguided notion many of us succumb to that paying those gym fees and getting a bag full of kit is a ticket to getting back in shape (usually after sinful levels of holiday indulgence). Surely with an instructor ordering us about and an abundance of gadgets at my disposal, how will I fail to lose? But even with all these motivating factors, many of us do lose. Not weight, but the will to continue working out.
After a brisk start and weeks of treadmill-pounding the mirror still tells the same story. The pain, financial and physical, of availing yourself for sessions is getting harder and harder to justify. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to put yourself through this misery. Take it from a dude who hit the gym faithfully from January to February and then gave it all up. But I feel fitter now than I’ve ever felt. This is why I gave up the gym, and how I’ve still managed to scale heights of fitness hitherto unattained.
Having surmounted those welcome-back pains, it didn’t take long for the gym routine to begin getting boring. Yes I added weights, reduced the weights and increased the reps, and varied the exercises for the different muscle groups. But it all boiled down to the same movements- up and down, push and pull, cycle, walk, run without getting anywhere. Oh boy, I would think whenever I contemplated doing the same stuff over again. My morale couldn’t climb above my socks. This is now a thing of the past since I replaced gym with swimming. This mode of exercise gives me a full-body workout to my very brain cells. And there’s always something to learn; a stroke to master here, a technique to refine there, or a person to race against. Never a dull moment in the pool.
And if you’re hydrophobic there are many other ways to lose weight or sculpt your physique while avoiding the gym tedium. Take a walk or jog around the park; I guarantee you everyday you’ll see something different. And if you feel yourself plateau-ing, you can always change your route. You will burn plenty while enjoying a vast change of scenery and much, much fresher air. Or why not make time for your favorite sport? How about arranging a game of tennis or a three-on-three half court game thrice a week with friends? Even on the days when you’re feeling most lethargic, you will work yourself to the bone not to get beat.
Another factor that lured me away from the gym was just how inconvenient it was to get to. The only time I could free myself for my session was at the end of a long work day. By the time I had disentangled myself from rush-hour traffic and sometimes braved heavy downpour (I commute by public means), I was physically and mentally drained. Of course this extra leg in my commute attracted extra expense (besides the not-insignificant gym fees). Since I also have to endure the same drama when going to swim, I decided to search for a routine I could do at home. A simple Google search revealed plenty; there was one I found said to be used by Navy Seals, and another Japanese one that went by the name of Tabata. Both entailed a combination of demanding workouts- crunches, jumping jacks, chin-ups etc, that had nothing to do with weights. And what makes them all the more interesting is that they are timed. No yammering away between sets.
Now if you’re intent on promenading Miami’s South Beach with Dwayne Johnson-esque pecs, ignore all that you’ve just read. You’ve no choice but to suck it up and bear the boredom and inconvenience of the gym. But if all you want is to be able to fit back into pair of abandoned jeans, forget the fitness centre. Pick a sport or dance you love and a supplementary private routine and get busy.
Miami Based, Internationally Known
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