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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 14, 2008

Shake Your Gym Addiction. The Outside World is Waiting for You.

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20 Comments

Thanks to Rusty Moore from Fitness Black Book for the Guest Post! If you haven’t checked out his blog do so immediately. He offers a ton of sensible advice about how to get fit and live a healthy (and enjoyable!) lifestyle. Thanks, Rusty!

I’m not that impressed with Fitness Magazine models. I know I probably should be, but the physiques I see look almost “forced” to a certain extent. I am more impressed with people who are fit as a natural result of being active. Sure, the men and women in the fitness magazines have extremely low body fat levels, perfect skin and hair, 8 pack abs, etc…there is just something that doesn’t “feel right” about the way they look. I look up to athletes like mountain climbers, soccer players, sprinters, and others who are functionally fit. Most of these men and women balance gym workouts with their sport. The result is a more attractive and healthy look in my opinion.

Rusty

[During the summer, I’m lucky to get in the gym 2 times per week. In this picture I’m teaching my nephew how to Skimboard on a beach where I grew up. We had a blast, but I was very sore the next day…3 days actually.]

“You Know You Are a Gym Addict When…”
There was a stretch in my life of 12 years where I would workout in a gym, 5 days per week, 52 weeks out of the year. I seriously didn’t even take a break on vacations. Before I traveled to a destination, I would see if they had a nearby gym and found out what a day pass cost. I actually spent 2 hours a day in a gym in Hawaii during a one week trip. What was I thinking? Seriously…I will probably end up going to Hawaii 5 total times during my lifetime. Why would I spend a minute of that limited time in a stinky gym? Really, what was I thinking!

You Won’t Lose Much by Taking Time Away from The Gym
The last 3-4 summers I got most of my exercise by playing tennis, volleyball, the occasional run around the lake, etc. I stayed active, but was only doing 2 gym workouts per week. After 3 months of summer, I would get back in the gym on a more consistent basis and gain back all my strength within 2-3 weeks. I would also get back to lower body fat levels within 30 days. As long as you stay active, you can maintain current levels of fitness for a long time.

Rusty Moore Sunset

[Planet Earth is a better backdrop to your workout than a gym. Well…I guess the gym is technically on Planet Earth. You know what I mean!]

If Your Time Is Limited in the Gym, Train for Strength

If you want to maintain the muscle that you have, strength training is the way to go. I recommend a slow and steady approach to strength training. Things like forced reps, and negatives are just a short term strategy to gaining strength. You will reach sticking points quickly by employing these methods, you will risk getting injured, and you will feel sore on your days off. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t working out make you feel better? Here is a “sensible” approach to strength training: Gain Strength Without Fail By “Mastering the Weight”

All Gym Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

If your only physical activity is working out in a gym, then you should mix it up. It is a big world out there…so get out and explore a bit. When I used to spend all my time in the gym people would ask me if I was a swimmer or some sort of athlete. It kind of sucked because all I could say was…”I workout a lot”. How boring is that? The conversation pretty much ended right then and there. Gym talk is not very interesting. Seriously…it will put people to sleep.

Too Much Gym Time Can Turn You Into a “Gym Rat”

Am I the only person who thinks the gym is a strange environment? There are weird styles and some odd individuals. Don’t get me wrong…I still spend a decent amount of time in the gym, but I “keep it real” (at 38 I’m probably too old to say “keep it real”…but you know what I mean). My whole existence isn’t based around trying to gain as much muscle as possible and I could care less about the current bodybuilding champ. I don’t spend my whole time talking about Arnold or protein supplements. I actually walk and talk like a normal human being and I’m friendly and considerate to those around me. I pretty much don’t fit in! Note: Don’t even get me started about the locker room and people who seem to hang out buck naked for long periods of time. Not a good deal at all!

Competitive Sports Can Push You Past the Pain Barrier

After work every now and then I meet up with my buddy Gerry and we play tennis. We aren’t that good (he’s a little better), but we fight hard for every point. Even when I’m sweating like crazy, I can’t help but sprint to get to the next ball. I just don’t want to lose. The nice thing about competition is that you get so caught up in the game you don’t always realize how hard you are pushing. After a tough 2 hours of tennis, my metabolism is on fire. I can’t create the same effect on a piece of cardio equipment. Pick a sport, have some fun, and burn calories like mad! If you haven’t done this in a while you will be surprised at how effective some sports are at burning off unwanted body fat.

Rusty Moore Friends

[Here is a picture of two of my good friends hanging out in a beer garden. It was taken at a hip Seattle music festival called Bumbershoot. We hung out and enjoyed a few cold beers before we watched “The Shins” take stage. Beer and outdoor concerts are a match made in Heaven!]

Let Your Hair Down and Live a Little!

The biggest thing I’ve learned about being fit for a lifetime is that you don’t have to be “on” 100% of the time. If my Grandma makes blackberry cobbler, I’m going to eat it! If I’m at a wedding, I will drink champagne. I enjoy a few beers every now and then…and probably more than a few at a New Year’s Eve or a Halloween party. Once or twice a month I meet my friends after work downtown for “Happy Hour”. Bottom line…You can occasionally stray from your diet and still remain healthy and look great.

Further Reading:

Other Guest Posts:

10 Questions with MizFit from MizFitOnline

Modern Forager: The Tropical Oils

The IF Life: Building Muscle 101

Health Hackers: Conquer Restless Nights with This Simple Sleep Cure

Almost Vegetarian: Almost Vegetarian and Kitchen Geology

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20 Comments on "Shake Your Gym Addiction. The Outside World is Waiting for You."

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Ryan Denner
8 years 1 month ago
“Am I the only person who thinks the gym is a strange environment?” NO!!! I just started going to a gym recently (my company pays for my membership – sweet!), and after doing triathlons all summer – working out inside is so painful. I really only go for spin & yoga. I used to be a gym rat myself, and its funny going back into a gym (for the first time in 4+ years) and the gym rats can be recognized SO EASILY. Honestly, I left the gym thinking “I feel bad for people who don’t work out outside enough”.… Read more »
Mike OD - IF Life
8 years 1 month ago

Great post!! The gym sucks the life out of me….literally. I use it only for the heavy weights and then leave…no cardio…no walking on a machine starting at 12 TVs….no sitting on fake bikes pretending I am outside….I can feel all the electronics just sucking my life’s energy. There’s something about being outside that is rewarding, peaceful and exercise that the spirit needs….no gym can ever replace that.

Chris
8 years 1 month ago
Great post, its a reminder that you can keep fit without a gym. This summer I have only done a handful of workouts in a gym (partly due to lack of membership) doing at most 2 a week. Usually some strength work 5×5 Squats and shoulder presses, followed by a KettleBell/Dumbell Circuit. Other days I have gone running. Done some BW circuits or just played sports. Long gone are my days of slaving for 5 hours (minimum) a week in a gym. Added bonus is I am now in the best shape of my life and I have a great… Read more »
MizFit
8 years 1 month ago

yesyesYES!!

I love the gym

I love taking time out and off of the gym and LIVING.

PLAYING.

sad we all need this reminder—but we do.

Carter
Carter
8 years 1 month ago

I use the gym as a fall back for the “planet earth” option. I much prefer hiking or any kind of outdoor exercise, but the gym is close and it protects me from rain!

charlotte
8 years 1 month ago

Fantastic post!! I agree with everything he wrote, esp. about the gym being a strange & unnatural environment. I’m going camping this weekend and was a little bummed about missing my gym time (am a confessed addict) so this reminder was badly needed here! Thank you!!

dragonmamma
dragonmamma
8 years 1 month ago
Believe it or not, it’s possible to have fun and play at the gym, too! At the YMCA I belong to, there are about 20 of us who I consider to be a little micro-community of friends. We have a boot-camp twice a week in which we have lots of fun trying to beat the pants off each other in various relay races and displays of strength. On Saturday mornings, everyone’s kids join us and we do all sorts of silly physical games in the gymnasium and the outdoor basketball courts. We also like to show off and share information… Read more »
Rusty
8 years 1 month ago
Ryan, Good choice on going to the spin class. I used to venture in when I was a single guy, because it was full of attractive women. That is a tough workout! If I have been a bit lazy, I’ll do a few spinning classes to whip myself into shape. Sweet blog by the way! You are down with the Indie Rock bands…you can’t go wrong with that stuff. We still have a great music scene in Seattle…the recent bands to come out the Northwest that I dig…Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, Modest Mouse, etc…Can’t go wrong with this… Read more »
Scott Kustes - Modern Forager

Great post Rusty! I agree the being outside is best. The most enjoyable workouts I’ve had lately were the three months where I was spending 4 or 5 days a week at the track doing sprinting workouts. However, when I’m in the gym, I’m at a small CrossFit affiliate rather than a large globo-gym full of meatsticks. There’s a much different level of camaraderie at a small gym.

Cheers
Scott Kustes
Modern Forager

Rachel
8 years 1 month ago

Too bad I did the same thing when I was in Hawaii!
Great post, and very interesting and relevant points. I’ll have to remember this one!

Rachel
8 years 1 month ago

Although I should clarify I do Olympic weightlifting and am at a small gym (like Scott said, the camaraderie in a small gym is much different than a globo-gym), but the Hawaii thing made me laugh because it’s totally what I do when I’m on vacation. I’m learning, though!

Rusty
8 years 1 month ago

Rachel,

I think a bunch of us who workout are type-A personalities who can’t stay still. I do my best to get my exercise outside on vacation now.

I think the main thing to remember is that every now and then it is good to just “stop and smell the roses”…of course once you vacation is over you need to quit being a lazy “flower smelling” slacker and get a good workout in!

Tom Parker
8 years 1 month ago
Great post Rusty. I do prefer doing my strength training at the gym. A few years ago I did purchase a bench and barbell/dumbbell set to use at home. However, I found it too distracting to workout at home and also it’s not as practical as a gym e.g. dips are hard to perform in a house. I agree with you though there is such a thing as overkill. I try to get all my gym time in on weeknights and do 3-4 sessions a week. I find it best to get my gym time in then because if I… Read more »
kate
kate
8 years 1 month ago

Do you have “Vitaparcours” in the US, or is this a swiss thing?
(the website is only available in German, French and Italian, sorry).

We have them in pretty much every forrest here. Each Parcours is between 2-5kms long, and there are 15 stops on the way with different exercises (e.g. pull-ups, hanging leg-raises, jumping over logs, slalom, planks, push-ups,…) which target the whole body.

It’s a great intervall- & strenght training, and so much more fun than the gym or running in the park.

Rachel
8 years 1 month ago

Kate,
That is soooo cool. I haven’t heard of too many of those around here (although I think there are some), but what a wonderful idea! Running through a forrest, doing body weight exercises. What more could you ask for?

Andrew R
7 years 9 months ago
I can’t believe I just found this! I’m glad the link was placed in the “other guest posts” section after the last guest post! Rusty… words to live by. I’ve been trying really hard to get away from that mentality of being in the gym 5 days a week, 52 weeks out of the year. Small steps work for me, for example, I’ve started walking to the gym and I love it! Indoor rock climbing is a fun one too. And for tennis, I really have NO excuse cause I live 300 yards from a public tennis court! Thanks for… Read more »
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K-Alwell
7 years 9 months ago

I am 16 years old and started going to the gym this summer, i spent first an hour there, then two, then three hours and a 45 minute run home. I do sports such as wrestling and believe its completly necessary to go to te gym and be active to the point of failure. Plus its so much fun when kids from other schools come in and you sit there dong dumbel curls and one hundred eighty pound rows at one hundred thirty pounds! I agree its good to be outside I just tought i express my point of view.

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[…] health) that goes relatively unheeded. While you can still get an extremely effective workout in a cloistered gym, outdoor workouts provide added benefits. This isn’t rocket science. I think most people […]

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