Gym rat no more?

I intended to write a “Gym Rat” post back in May, when my beloved chain fitness center branch shut its doors with only a week’s notice.  I couldn’t feel too sorry for myself as a patron because the fitness center employees received the same minimal amount of notice regarding the end of their jobs.  Oof.

Last October, after debating which gym to join, I chose the closer (i.e., walkable), cheaper, now-shuttered option.  I quickly got in the habit of working out (i.e., lifting weights) there at least two, and often three, times a week.

Even with the $10/month unlimited kids’ room (i.e., childcare), I was paying less than $30/month total.  It was definitely money well-spent, as that gym helped save my sanity during the early part of this year, when wintry weather minimized outside time, leaving me stuck indoors with this.  For much of February and March, my two or three visits per week increased to four or five, as the kids’ room provided a much-needed break!

When they closed their doors in mid-May, my visits had already decreased, and with warmer weather and more built-in physical activity (i.e., active living — walking, biking, etc.), I’d been questioning continuing my membership.  They transferred our memberships to another [relatively nearby, but biking distance, rather than a 3-block walk] fitness center, which I tried I couple of times over the following month, before deciding it wasn’t the place for me.

After another month of no gym, a different fitness center’s $10/month with a $1 joining fee lured me back.  In a moment of weakness, I signed up for the free intro session with a personal trainer, a privilege I’ve waived at past gyms, given my training and years of experience lifting weights.

Ironically, that training session, meant to encourage me to pay for more training, contributed to my [almost-finalized] decision to leave the gym.  The session itself was good — personalized and challenging — but I realized afterward that almost all of the exercises the trainer gave me were using my own body weight, not free weights or weight machines, and thus were things I could do for free, at home.

Still, I was not convinced that I would actually do the exercises at home, where there are always a million-and-one other things that need doing, making it easy to put off the workout until it ends up not happening.

Then, a few weeks ago, as I was writing my “gratitude” post, I came across a NYTimes Well Blog post about a 7-minute workout that could be done almost anywhere.*  It almost sounded too good to be true, but something about it appealed to me.  Many of the exercises (there are 12 total) were identical or similar to those assigned by the trainer.

For whatever reason, this seems to be an at-home workout routine that I can maintain.  The short duration helps.  I mean, seven minutes?**  How can I not find just seven minutes at some point in the day to do this?

Instead of saying, “Oh, I’ll workout after I do x,y,z,” my mentality with this is, “Oh, I have enough time to squeeze in a workout before I do x,y,z.”  This shift in mentality is HUGE.

In reality, I’ve made the program my own, focusing on reps rather than strictly on time for a few of the moves where I want to focus on form (e.g., squats and push-ups), and adding in an extra move or two for shoulder and back muscles.  Even with these tweaks, a full circuit takes less than nine minutes, and once I get going, I usually end up doing the complete circuit twice.  For my fitness level, this provides a very good workout in barely more than 15 minutes!

While I did fall off the wagon a bit last week, I’m on track for maintaining a 2-3 times/week routine for almost a month now.

Since I have until the end of the month to decide, I should probably revisit the gym at least once before cancelling my membership (since I would pay a much higher fee to rejoin if I cancel), but I really don’t think I’m missing much.

*7-Minute Workout originally published as “High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment” in the American College of Sport’s Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal.

** I am using this circuit in addition to the “exercise” I get from active transportation.  Great full-body routine or no, seven minutes a day (much less seven minutes two or three times a week) is FAR below the minimum guidelines for daily/weekly physical activity.

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