To exercise, or not to exercise… that is NOT the question. Instead, the questions are, “What type of exercise should I do?”, “What type of exercise will fit my schedule, interests, and budget?”, and “What type of exercise will meet my needs, abilities, and take me to my goals?”
Exercise is more than a weight loss or management strategy. Get past that idea, because dropping a few pounds always gets pushed to the back burner for when you, ah hem, have more time. Exercise is disease prevention, injury prevention or recovery, and pain management. It is stress reduction, a social outlet, and provides a tremendous boost of self-confidence. You DO have time each week for exercise. Now decide what type of exercise you are going to do during this time.
Option One: A Home Gym
Pros: Elaborate home gym systems can be expensive, but they are a one-time investment compared to an ongoing gym membership. Even better, you can have a fabulous home gym by spending very little on a few key pieces of portable equipment. Even stairs and chairs are versatile pieces of exercise equipment. Use some of the money saved and hire a certified personal trainer to help you choose budget-friendly equipment and design an individualized workout plan.
Home gyms are convenient and eliminate any excuse or most legitimate reasons not to get-your-sweat-on (weather, childcare, traffic, scheduling, etc.). Compared to public facilities, home gyms are private, uncrowded, and (hurray!) more hygienic.
Cons: Home gyms require much internal motivation (which many people lack) and offer zero social interaction (which many people crave). Home gym workouts keep you out of touch with new trends in equipment and group classes, and this can seriously diminish the fun factor of your workouts.
Option Two: A Membership to a Fitness Facility
Pros: Public and private fitness facilities offer everything that a home gym lacks – versatility, variety, external motivation and assistance from instructors, plus the overall energy buzz from other grunting folk.
Cons: Twenty minutes round-trip, ten minutes in the locker room, and fifteen extra minutes dilly dallying and chatting with your neighbor is an extra forty-five minutes that you could dedicate to something much more productive. Membership dues can be pricey, but worth every penny if your attendance and effort is consistent.
Option Three: A Little Bit of Everything
Conduct an experiment. Try out as exercise modalities that you think might interest you, and then choose your favorite(s). Or keep mixing it up indefinitely. Join a learn-to-run clinic in the spring to train for an upcoming 5K charity race. Purchase a popular, reputable DVD for Sunday roll-out-of-bed mornings. Make a weekly brisk walking date or play squash Beef jerky for bodybuilding on Tuesday nights with your best friend. Indulge in 5 personal training sessions guaranteed to kick your backside (safely). Sign up for an 8-week outdoor bootcamp with your daughter. Ask for a 10-class punch card at a local yoga studio as a gift for your upcoming birthday. Spend 15 minutes stretching before lights-out most evenings. Invest in a stationary bike and vow not to use it as a clothes hanger. Run up and down your stairs 30 times while your supper casserole is cooking. How about renting some cross-country skis on a sunny winter afternoon? You get the idea.
Being sedentary is not an option, and there are as many ways to exercise as there are people in the world. What you do to get your heart pumping and muscles flexing is a reflection of who you are. Bottom line, if you enjoy your workout such that you want to do it again a few days later, you’re on the right track. If not, find something else.