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Do you need a gym to get fit?

With the return to a "new normal" many of us are returning to gyms. On the other hand many of us have also found solace in at home workouts without the bothersome nature of crowded spaces and the miasma of sweat. As governments begin to loosen restrictions the question for many is whether or not it's really necessary to return to the gym in order to progress through their fitness.

A case for going back In the same way having your office in the same room as where you sleep is a bad idea, sometimes having a gym in your home might lead to less motivation to lift. Too many kettlebells are relegated to expensive doorstops and a good majority of us would be willing to admit to have bought some kind of fitness equipment only to let it gather dust in the garage. Part of going to another physical space to exercise is that it's economical. Not having to purchase a full gym's worth of equipment is reason enough. But another factor of why gyms are useful are because they can be part of building a habit. Even if you dislike working out, once you're there, you might as well get a good sweat in. Although I recommend following a system or a program, stepping through the door and doing something is something I would consider a success for many. With a home gym, there's always a case for doing it later, which more often than not means not doing it at all.

As a personal trainer, the gym is a space that allows for me to work with clients on a more tactile level. Although we're able to train people through visual cues, nothing beats being able to actively modify movement in real time. A lot of success for me comes from being able to point out where tension needs to be held, and feel whether or not my client is actually undergoing activation. At Fitnastika, we have dumbells, kettlebells and barbells as well as a cable machine, which allow us to work through multiple cycles of training adaptations. Different demographics have different needs, and it's often unrealistic to expect clients to buy equipment that will take up space in their homes.

Fitnastika - North Vancouver The case for staying home Coming from a martial arts background, I can tell you that you can build incredible strength (and also physique) from just training with bodyweight. With modalities such as calisthenics, gymnastics, yoga and running, there is a wide array of fitness activity that you can do without having to put much of an investment into equipment. Bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, rows, pull-ups and lunges have remained staples in my own training for over a decade. The are a wide variety of variations and progression for bodyweight movements, and are often good enough to provide a good basis of strength for everyday life. A push-up can be modified based on your hand positioning, while squats can be progressed through either a plyometric or by changing it to a pistol squat, which is performed with one leg. There are hundreds of variations of each movement which means a lifetime of exercises to practice and learn for functional strength.

Should I go back to the gym? My answer to most questions regarding fitness is that it depends on you. If you're an athlete training for a sport, working with a trainer at a well equipped facility is almost always necessity as you'll need barbells, medicine balls and other tools to maximize your physical potential. If your sport is bodybuilding, having access to a variety of equipment may help you maximize strength and hypertrophy. Even if you don't play a sport, the gym is a social environment that can help with motivation towards your goals and is a great place with resources such as trainers (if you can find a good one) that can help you build towards better health. If you started fitness out of boredom of self isolation or and thinking about rejoining a gym here are a couple questions you can ask yourself: 1. What are my goals for fitness? 2. Do I feel safe sharing a space with other people yet? 3. Are there things that I can work on that don't need me to be in the gym? 4. Can I self motivate? Or does a gym help me get off my butt? 5. Why do I go the gym? Whether or not you choose to stay home or go to a gym, the focus should be finding long term goals that you can work towards. Whatever you can do to make physical activity a habit and not just a chore is going to be the best choice for you.

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