It’s that time of the year again. Gym subscriptions go skyrocket with people making new year’s resolutions to get fit and healthy or to build a sexy body. I have a controversial opinion in this regard. In my opinion, an average person shouldn’t join a gym to achieve his/her fitness goals (unless of course there is specific purpose: Gymnastics, Bodybuilding, etc.). Before I explain my reasons, let me introduce you to a self-made term for this post: “Sustainable fitness”. Think of it to something similar as sustainable development. By sustainable fitness, I mean a level of fitness that can be maintained despite disruptions and without any side effects, injuries, drugs, protein shakes, etc. This kind of fitness doesn’t fade off too quickly if you stop your workouts regime. Of course, a basic level of discipline is always required to maintain a level of fitness. I am a fan of this sustainable fitness. I have always aimed for this kind of fitness for the past 8-9 years. Since my first week at IIT Kanpur (July 2011), I have maintained an almost consistent work ethic and discipline for this sustainable fitness. In between, I never joined any gym (though I tried for 6-7 days which further strengthened my belief). Here are my reasons for not joining any gym:

  • I never enjoyed the gym workouts: Running on treadmills in bursts was fun, leg workouts, situps, pull-ups were all fun too. But these things, I can do better at stadiums or even at home. The rest of the gym workouts such as pulling weights and dumbells were not fun. It’s not that I shy away from weights, it’s just that lifting iron rods never felt natural to me. I always felt that I am a moment away from an injury. I later developed my own way of doing weight training at home.
  • Home workouts are fun: Time is always the biggest factor in maintaining regularity in your fitness regime. Maybe the stadium is too far off, the gym has a rush at 7pm or maybe its too cold outside. Little things such as these may kill your motivation and desire. However, if you’re able to workout at home and enjoy at the same time, all these problems are solved instantly. Despite being part of athletics, football teams, adventure sports club, I have been regularly doing home workouts from 2012. I just put music on speakers and start. Aerobics, stretching, yoga, shadow boxing, nunchucks, staff swinging, lifting bags, boxing, Muay Thai kicks to even dancing have been part of my home workouts. They are always fun. Plus I can analyze my progress and technique through videos.
    Glimpses of my home workouts.
  • Stadium workouts > Gym workouts: The kind of space, freedom and versatility a stadium (ground) offers, I would always prefer a good, old 90 minutes stadium workouts over gym workouts any day. I was a long-distance runner, obviously had an inclination for running. Sometimes, I can also challenge myself through timing the 400m and 5k runs. Beleive me when I say this. A person who can run 400m under a minute is far ahead in terms of sustainable fitness compared to someone who can bench press 50kgs. I am not dissing gym going dudes. But I know for a fact that in terms of endurance, cardio, and lasting longer in a physically intense task, an army man would beat a bodybuilder all day long. You think leg days are difficult, try sprinting on stairs with a 15kg filled bag on your back.
  • I never felt the need: Bodybuilding has never been my priority. Staying fit and healthy was. With the consistent home workouts, cross country running, stadium workouts, sprinting, football and now boxing and martial arts, I have always succeeded in maintaining a level of physical fitness that makes me feel confident about myself and my body. At times, I even achieved feats that are simply impossible for a gym going version of myself. I occasionally challenge myself with marathons, treks, mountain biking trips, 400m sprints, etc. And I enjoy all of these. This makes sure that I am consistent. Whenever I start getting bored, I innovate and switch to something new (dancing, nunchucks, martial arts). This space and freedom that I have for fun and innovation is something I value a lot.

So, if staying fit and healthy is your top priority, you should start by giving yourself 1 hr every day at home. Couple this with just 10 minute morning runs and you’ll achieve sustainable fitness quite soon without spending a single rupee. In upcoming posts, I’ll list a series of effective workouts which you can do to further increase your fitness levels.
Happy new year in advance!