Thursday, March 04, 2010
I'm a stranger to the gym. I never go to the gym. I am not even a member of the gym.
Don't get me wrong. I understand the importance of physical fitness to improving my performance as a Laser sailor. After all, this blog is mainly about "the delusion that it is not too late to discover how to sail smarter and faster." And I have written several times here about how my comparative lack of fitness is often a limiting factor in how well I do in races.
Stamina, strength, flexibility. I need to improve them all.
Cardio, weight training, yoga. I should be doing them all.
Actually, I do do a bit of all of the above. I like to run and do a bit of cycling as cardio exercise. I have some free weights in my basement man cave and do work out with them once or twice a week. I do some yoga stretches when I remember.
But I don't do enough. So, I often ask myself whether I would be more motivated to exercise more intensively and more regularly if I joined a gym.
I tend to address this question to myself at the start of every winter. During the warmer months with longer days, I do exercise more. I sail a lot (most years.) I run a lot (if I haven't injured myself while running.) I cycle. I swim. I do a lot of work for Tillerwoman in the garden. I go for long walks behind my lawnmower.
But then some winters... I hibernate. I allow the bad weather to become an excuse to run less, sail less, and cycle not at all. I eat more. I drink more. I sit in front of a computer more. I typically put on too much weight. I become less fit.
So every spring I have to start all over again getting fit for Laser sailing and it usually takes me until September or October to regain something close to my fitness and weight of the previous year... and then the weather becomes colder and the cycle starts all over again.
And, about that time of year, I ask myself... should I join a gym?
I read a lot of bad stuff about gyms. About how their business model is based on persuading enough people to sign up to pay for a year's membership dues knowing that a large percentage of those won't actually use the gym for more than a month or two after signing up. I think I might well be one of those people who would be in that large percentage.
I ask myself why I would be more motivated to jump in a car and drive 15 minutes to a gym to lift weights, rather than walk down to my own basement man cave and lift weights.
I ask myself why, if I wanted to work out on a rowing machine or a stationary bicycle, it wouldn't make more sense to use the money that I would spend on a year's gym fees to buy such equipment and put it in my basement man cave. But then I think of all the homes I have visited where it is clear that the stationary bike or treadmill hardly ever gets any use.
In any case, I prefer real running to running on a treadmill; and I prefer real biking to spinning my wheels in one place. And it turns out that my prejudices are based on hard scientific evidence; real running and biking and rowing outdoors are better for you than fake running and go nowhere biking and pretend rowing indoors according to Winter Training - Faster and Safer Indoors? Of course, if you let the weather outside stop you from exercising at all it's a moot point.
So what do you think? Do you need to join a gym if you are serious about exercise? Does belonging to a gym improve your motivation to exercise? Or can you achieve all the fitness you need by doing some exercise at home plus some running and biking outside?