I work out at home, commercial gyms, privately owned hard-core “pits”, and out doors by hiking and biking. It’s all good. What is the most effective? That all depends on your individual circumstances; however, eventually I think it’s best if you can migrate to a commercial gym to get a solid, well qualified start to developing good, safe technique and form.
The Sneak Up On Fitness Posts are obviously geared to the convenience of home. The idea is to just move when you would otherwise be sitting. This is a great way to start; and later, a good calorie burning supplement to your more intense cardio and weight workouts. Once you have committed at any given moment to be walking on a treadmill, walking in place on the floor, or pedaling some sort of stationary bike, you’re free to turn it up to whatever you happen to feel like at the time. However, you can see from the post by the good Dr. Nagy that her days are so scheduled up that she doesn’t have any otherwise “wasted” time that she can borrow to sneak up on anything.
On the other hand, back over 30 years ago when we bought a home treadmill in order to get some good workouts in, it just didn’t work. That first treadmill, like I think most home units, wound up as a clothes hanger. Although I know better now, you might also recall in Who is That Strong Old Guy (10/31/11) the self-directed start to my short-lived running career:
We had an old orchard that covered about 30 acres. I cut a course through the ragged trees and long grass with the lawn tractor such that seven laps gave me exactly 3 miles. Within two years of off and on training I was running at better than a 6:00 minute/mile pace. My best times were getting down to 17.5 minutes for the 3 miles. My blood pressure was now back to where it should be; however, most of the extra goo on the waist was still there. In addition, my running was becoming more and more restricted due to painful shin splints.
Why go to a top-notch commercial fitness center? Well, for one thing you can avoid rookie mistakes like I made at the start of my running program. Basically, because that’s where the knowledgable and caring people are. That’s where you will find people who work in the industry because they are so enthusiastic about all things fitness that they choose to try to make a living at it. All of your better managed clubs try to hire people with a sincere desire to help other people reach their goals. They can get you started on the right foot; just as importantly, they can provide helpful tips and often necessary encouragement if you get discouraged.
A word about muscle-heads: For the most part, the perception of some kind of intimidation by the “big guys” is just that…perception. This is probably as much as anything else discomfort at being in the presence of younger, boisterous guys in general, and I think it is exaggerated. Personally, I don’t find any more real knobs in this population than in guys my age with little sports cars; or in women who still climb all over each other like wannabe middle school mean girls. Although you can certainly find gyms that discourage “big” members by such things as limiting the amount and kinds of free weights, I find those places to be a little sterile. They kind of remind me of retirement communities that don’t allow children. Without the big guys when I started out, I would not have had the benefit of their experience (which for the most part was readily shared, and free). Nor would I have had the inspiration of personally witnessing the lifting of what I thought at the time were super human weights. And last, but in no way least, I would not have had goals and a yardstick to measure myself when I eventually far exceeded those goals. Those earliest aspirations, which at the time seemed ambitious to the point of bordering on impossible, turned out in the final analysis to be exceedingly modest.