In today's April 1, 2010 newsletter . . .

  • Home Gyms vs. Health Clubs

  • Exercise of the Month:
    The Side Split Squat

Home Gyms vs. Health Clubs

Patty and I have belonged to the same gym for many years. It is independently owned and good place to workout, kind of a cross between the Big Iron gyms of yesterday and today’s sleeker health clubs. For several years, we led cardio-kickboxing classes there. So we have a connection. It is a comfortable place, family-friendly, and with reasonable rates.

Yet for years I have known that I would eventually switch to training at home. I never really had a date in mind for making the change, but I think the time may be near.

Newsletter readers will know that I had a rather serious bout with pneumonia over the holidays. So I was of course away from the gym and my regular routine. Then, as I began working my way back into shape, I did it at home.

At first, I did modest repetitions of .bodyweight only exercises. Next, I got out a set of resistance bands that I had bought from the BodyLastics company and began working with those. My plan was to work myself into fairly decent shape at home before returning to my normal pattern at the gym. But something happened along the way. I discovered what a challenging workout I could get just using the bands. The bands I’m talking about are not the lightweight strands with handles attached that you see in aerobics rooms. They are bands that come in a set of various thicknesses and strength. You can use a single band or combine several by attaching them to handles. Many professional athletes (the NFL’s Terrell Owens comes to mind) train with them.

I also have some free weights and will add to them if I continue to train at home. I have always taken my cardio in the hills in nearby open space preserves. I’ve never cared much for cardio machines and have used them only during the foulest of weather. Bottom line: I’m saving time by not having to drive to and from the gym, and I have gotten comfortable in my new pattern. Will this continue? I’m not sure yet. But I’m leaning in that direction.

I hope my remarks do not sound like criticism of gyms, health clubs, or the people who belong to them. Because it isn’t. Commercial health clubs are great. But so are home gyms, outdoor "boot camps," or any other exercise venue or kind of equipment you happen to like. If you are doing what is right for you, well, you are doing what is right. Nothing else matters.

If you happen to be considering a home gym, I suggest a test run of some sort. Also ask yourself, and be honest, if you will actually train at home on a regular basis. The image of the expensive treadmill that has been pushed aside and used to hang clothes on is all too real. Some people need a commercial gym and/or a trainer to prod them. Others do not. Know yourself. Then take advantage of any method or place for training that will most likely lead to your success. Few things in life are more important.

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Exercise of the Month: The Side Split Squat

Side split squats are favorites in many martial arts. They develop leg strength and flexibility at the same time. They may look difficult to people who haven't done them. But don't be afraid of them. There is a way to ease into side split squats gradually, which is demonstrated here. Yes, they're probably a little too advanced for total beginners. But if you have been training for a while and have built a reasonable fitness base, jump right in. Once mastered, both men and women love them.

Split Squat demo.
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Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

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The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter