Gym Time

Like almost 43 million other Americans (12% of the population)  I belong to a gym. And, I go.  I subscribe to the Hippocratic prescription that says, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Going to the gym ensures that I complete the exercise part of this equation.


Some of my friends think I am crazy. They site various reasons for thinking this: “It’s too expensive,” or “It takes too much time,” or “It’s too hard to schedule,”  Actually, they are right about it costing money, taking time, and being difficult to schedule. But, they are also dead wrong.

It’s too expensive. Membership rates vary but I’m paying about $125 a month to belong to a full service gym with all the latest equipment, group classes, and personal trainers. But then, I spend about $35 a month on coffee, $50 plus on the New York Times, and $70 on manicures/pedicures to keep my appendages presentable. Added together these three incidental expenditures are about what I’m paying for my gym membership. So, in the big scheme of things, it is not so expensive. It just depends on what’s most valuable to you. Gym or latte, gym or NYT, gym or pedi-mani. For me it is clear. It is the gym.

It does takes time. Does it take too much time? Perhaps, but against what measure? If I weren’t in the gym, I’d be sitting at my desk working, or sitting in my car driving, or sitting at my piano practicing, or sitting on my derriere reading. Put that all together and that’s about 10 hours of sitting every weekday and let’s say half that on weekends.

That’s a lot of sitting, but not a lot of calorie burning. Sitting consumes around 170 calories an hour.  That’s not much when you consider that a Starbuck’s Grande cafe latte made with whole milk has about 272 calories and typically takes much less than an hour to consume.

It’s too hard to schedule.  The other day, I asked my trainer which were the busiest days and times at the gym and here’s what he said. “Monday is the busiest day. It’s busy in the morning and in the evening. Tuesday is a little less busy, Wednesday even less, and by Friday it bottoms out. Saturday morning gets busy again as does late Sunday morning.  Everyone starts the week off with good intentions and acts on them. Then as the week progresses scheduling either gets too difficult or motivation wanes.  It is not clear which but most likely it’s a combination of the two.  I have found that the only way to be consistent about going to the gym is to treat it like a meeting and schedule it ahead of time in my calendar. I often hear myself say when asked for a 9AM appointment, “I have  a meeting at that time, but I could meet you at 10:30.” Oddly enough 99.999% of the time, it works out for me and my client.

It is easy to say, “Be active.” But, it is harder to put into practice. When I lived in a big east coast city I walked about 4 miles a day because I took public transportation to work, walked to the grocery store, to my neighborhood cafe, and on all my other errands. Of course, the need for efficiency drove my behavior. Here on the west coast I live in Palo Alto in the suburban sprawl that extends down Silicon Valley where taking the train or bus is the most inefficient means of getting around. That means I hop in my car to do just about everything. Who has all day to get done what you need to do? Just that alone is good enough reason to make time in your day for the gym.  I say, “Do it.”

All original content copyright 2008 Mary E. Slocum


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