So I joined a gym

Published 6.20.2016
Like the title says, a week or so ago, I joined a gym. I went with a friend who had a "special deal card" she received in the mail, and of course, they were more than happy to show both of us around and sign both of us up (for the same deal). I had no intention of ever joining a gym again, but once I chose to go with her, the die was cast. If I was going to say no, I needed to let her go on her own. My friend hopes that I will spur her to go to the gym regularly.

I am not a fan of gyms, in fact, I loathe them. I don't generally like the vibe at gyms and I resent the monthly fee. A few years ago I convinced (okay, I harangued) my family to join the local YMCA so that we could as a group use the gym facilities. The Y has a gym, my thought was that I would swim, while the others worked out on machines or whatever. That lasted all of 6 months before I got tired of dragging people to do what they didn't want to do. And so we quit.

I own a treadmill that I use regularly, both for walking while working and jogging for a cardio work out. I also own a recumbent bike that I am pedaling at as I type these words. In addition, over the years we've accumulated some free weights, a Totalgym (don't laugh), bands, as well as balance balls and disks,. I have enough equipment in my own home to make a tiny little gym. And in fact, I routinely use much of the equipment we own. However, I workout alone at home as no one else in the house has any interest whatever.

Along with the usual cardio machines (which I don't need because I have a treadmill), the gym of course has weights and other equipment. Interestingly, it does not have many weight machines. I can't use the weight machines because even on their shortest setting, I'm too short to use them safely, Beyond deciding to have workout buddy, the other reasons I chose to join are the weight room and the classes offered.

I've read great things about working our with free weights, particularly for body recomposition, but don't actually know how to do so properly. I certainly don't want to injure myself. The new membership included two sessions with a trainer, which is not enough time to learn much— and regular trainer sessions are simply outside my current budget options. But there are classes that include working with hand weights, bands, etc that are lead by teachers who explain how to do the moves correctly. In addition to classes incorporating free weights, I will be taking pilates and a gentle yoga class.

Yoga is a wonderful exercise for osteoporosis, and I have been doing yoga at home for a few years using the descriptions of Loren Fishman, MD in his book, Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide. I highly recommend this book for anyone with osteoporosis, and I did the poses reasonably accurately. Still it was a different matter to be in a room with an instructor demonstrating the pose, and offering hints to improve position.

Weight loss or recomposition?

Of course, the trainer wanted to know what my goals are. Mostly my goal is learn how to use free weights, learn how to do Pilates and improve my yoga skills. But I'm not going to complain if over time the addition of the classes results in a bit of weight loss. However, I'm not assigning that as a goal. The first thing is to establish a routine. The first week was basically trying out classes, and the few exercises that the trainer gave me.

As this is deliberate exercise, it would count under the exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) term of the energy balance. I will still be standing, walking or pedaling while working, so I intend to keep my non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) levels elevated. I know it's common for researchers and trainers to claim that NEAT is genetic and can't be changed or they claim that as EAT increases, NEAT decreases subconsciously. I don't accept that.

Part of NEAT is subconscious, of course, but a portion of it comes down to choices. Fidgeting in your chair might be genetic, but choosing to slowly pedal while working is not. And both are examples of NEAT.


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So I joined a gym

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