Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Aug

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

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.

Rusty1

[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.

Rusty2

[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.

Rusty3

[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

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. “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”. This post backs it up!

    Ryan Denner wrote on August 14th, 2008
  2. 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.

    Mike OD - IF Life wrote on August 14th, 2008
  3. 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 tan ;)

    Rusty and Mark keep up the great work!!!

    Chris wrote on August 14th, 2008
  4. 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.

    MizFit wrote on August 14th, 2008
  5. 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!

    Carter wrote on August 14th, 2008
  6. 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!!

    charlotte wrote on August 14th, 2008
  7. 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 and routines when in the weight room. We leave each other alone when we’re working on our specific work-outs, but there are always breaks available for socialization. Weight training does not have to be a grim, serious affair.

    dragonmamma wrote on August 14th, 2008
  8. 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 stuff.

    Mike,

    I am going to hit the street here in a second. I spent yesterday Skimboarding on a beach in Vancouver Canada, but today it is time to run some stairs outside then jog around the lake. It is too beautiful to hit the gym. I agree with it sucking the energy out of you.

    Chris,

    I love doing strength training. I bet you are getting great results doing 5x5s’! Mixing that up with kettlebells, you will get in incredible shape! If I had a back yard, I would buy some kettlebells and do those while developing a tan. I enjoy doing 2-3 things at once. Right now I’m listening to a marketing course, have the Olympics going on my LCD, eating an apple, and replying to comments. So much to do, so little time!

    MizFit,

    Don’t you love to get out and play? I hope I never grow up!

    Carter,

    Amen on getting protected from the rain. I live in an area where it rains a lot. What is funny is that I’m so conditioned to the rain, that I miss it when I visit a place without rain.

    Charlotte,

    You have a very entertaining site. I must admit, the naked people on the exercise bike scared me a bit! Hopefully they really wipe that equipment down.

    dragonmamma,

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m sure there are some gyms better than others & I plan on going to the gym in the future.

    Thanks for the great comments!

    Rusty

    Rusty wrote on August 14th, 2008
  9. 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

    Scott Kustes - Modern Forager wrote on August 14th, 2008
  10. 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 wrote on August 15th, 2008
  11. 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!

    Rachel wrote on August 15th, 2008
  12. 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!

    Rusty wrote on August 16th, 2008
  13. 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 don’t go to the gym after I finish work I’m usually tired and just end up lounging around the house for a few hours. And for cardio I have tried to do my running outdoors.

    Tom Parker wrote on August 16th, 2008
  14. 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.

    kate wrote on August 21st, 2008
  15. 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?

    Rachel wrote on August 22nd, 2008
  16. 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 the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

    Andrew R wrote on December 4th, 2008
  17. 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.

    K-Alwell wrote on December 18th, 2008

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