Getting Fit: Hitting the Gym vs. Working Out at Home

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Everyone wants to get and stay fit.  But do you have to hit the gym in order to get results?

Going to the gym has its advantages. When going to the gym, you are there for a purpose and have a mindset of going specifically to workout. Other people are there to workout and can provide you with motivation to workout. Gyms can be a social environment which for some people can be helpful to keeping you motivated. Having reliable people expecting you to be there or signing up for a class js proven to be a great way to ensure that you will be there.(1) Being at the gym can provide you with a sense of community and support. Most gym facilities have a trainer or fitness advisor on staff to help you workout effectively. The gym offers a variety of classes and equipment, which can help you get a well-rounded workout and keep you interested in working out.(2) Fitness needs to become a lifestyle inside and outside of the gym.(3)

The gym is an environment that is set up to help you workout and focus; however, technology and our need to be constantly connected is influencing this environment. A survey performed on behalf of Life Fitness revealed that 72% of exercisers use technology while at the gym in support of their workout.(4) The same technology that is helping workouts can be hindering and distracting. The smartphone that you use to play music or tablet that you bring to read books while on the treadmill can also often receive texts and emails! (5)

My tips?  Do one of the following:

  1. iPhone Off. iPod On.  I keep a non-Wifi iPod specifically for workouts.  It’s smaller and not connected to anything (or anyone!).  I can listen to tunes, podcasts, even audiobooks.  I use this for workouts only!  The cell phone doesn’t even get past the gym doors.
  2. Airplane mode. You don’t have to be sending and receiving while you’re working out!  However, this requires a bit more discipline once you’re at the gym as opposed to #1!

We also know that having to travel to get the gym can keep you from going on a regular basis. Poor weather can only add to the problem. Gyms can be expensive and having to pay a monthly fee can be hard on a tight budget(6) — so, there are ways around that!

Getting in a workout –or even some moderate physical activity– without going to the gym can be fun and easy. Here’s a few things you can do:

  1. Take your bike to run errands.
  2. Need to catch up on phone calls? Go for a walk while you chat.
  3. Do you take the bus or subway? Getting off one stop early and walking the last distance home is a great way to be active without using too much time. (7)
  4. Some people have gym equipment in their homes, but you can create your own home gym with everyday items or inexpensive equipment. Filling can or water bottles sand can be used as weights, chairs or stools as a prop for squats or leg raises, stairs for cardio, or resistance bands for more strength training. (8) I’ll often use these tricks when travelling!
  5. Use your own body weight. No gym required!  Squats, lunges, push-ups, or crunches are easy workouts to help you stay fit without leaving the house. (9) At-home workouts are inexpensive options to help you stay active.  Just be sure to keep up the intensity!

It’s not to say that workouts at home don’t have their own disadvantages and distractions. It is very easy to be distracted at home by other tasks, chores, and phone calls. (Now you’ve got to shut off both your cell and your land line!)

Living with other people can be a distraction as they are coming and going in the house and possibly interrupting your workout time.(10) Another frustration can be not having the equipment or supplies that you want for your workout readily available at home.

Developing a workout routine whether at the gym or at home is important. Knowing what your routine is and having it planned out ahead of time will help with time management and keeping yourself active in a safe and effective manner.(11)

According to Richard Weil, M.D. and exercise physiologist, there are five essential components to a workout, with the most important being the warm up and cool down.(12)

Elements of Fitness:

1. Warm Up – Light walking pace, slow bike pace. Warm up your muscles.

2. Cardio Workout – Faster pace walk or bike, jump rope. Get your heart rate up within help margins as recommended by your physician.

3. Strength Building – Crunches, push-ups, squats or lunges. Exercises that build muscle.

4. Flexibility Moves and Stretches – Stretch out the muscles and relax.

5. Cool Down – Finish with a light walk or bike.(13)

Time is one of the major concerns with keeping to an active lifestyle. Kevin Steele, an exercise physiologist and vice president of 24 Hour Fitness, says, “In today’s world, the reality of it is people don’t have time to go to a facility every day and consistency is key.”(14) As Steele points out, consistency is key. Having a set time and day that you can commit to every week can help you stay on track and remain active. Weils recommends doing your workout first thing in the morning so that you can get the task out of the way first thing and avoid coming up with other excuses.(15)

I know that, for me, if I don’t take care of my body, mind, and spirit first thing in the morning, the chances of me doing so later in the day are highly unlikely.

Regardless of where you are working out, make sure you kill the distractions. According to the Life Fitness survey, 57% of exercisers use smartphones or tablets while at the gym and an additional 62% use technology to track their progress in the gym or home workouts.(16) This is good. Just use that tech for progress and productivity only!

It is important to keep track of your progress to stay motivated. Seeing how far you come helps you stay active; however, that does not necessarily keep you motivated on your own.(17) Here are some more tips to try and stay active and motivated?

  • Challenge yourself and avoid boredom in your workout routine. Keep the muscles guessing!
  • Find an exercise or accountability partner.
  • Check out fitness clubs that offer small group training or bootcamps. This is a great way to get the benefit of personal trainer, while paying only a fraction of the price.
  • Schedule your workout at a consistent regular times and days.
  • Track your progress on a smartphone app or journal.
  • Set achievable goals.
  • Integrate exercise into all areas of your lifestyle including sleep and diet.(18)

Stay active. Know your limitations. Set goals.

Now, go crush it!

Dr. B.J. Hardick

About Dr. B.J. Hardick

Raised in a holistic family, Dr. B.J. Hardick is an organic food fanatic, green living aficionado, and has spent the majority of his life working in natural health care. In 2009, he wrote his first book, Maximized Living Nutrition Plans, which has now been used professionally in over 500 health clinics. Dr. Hardick regularly blogs healthy recipes and holistic health articles on his own website, DrHardick.com, and speaks to numerous professional and public audiences every year. In his spare time, he invests his keen interest in sustainable living into urban development in his hometown of London, Ontario. Learn More