Does exercise make more sense when it blends with actual life activities?
Workout at the gym has yielded jaw-dropping results for countless people over time - with or without trainers, whose experiences really do add optimal results. But there's another mass number of people who have a different take on working out at fitness gyms. Among the various reasons why paid efforts have not...well... paid off for so many, there's the challenge of grasping the concept that the healthy-weight vision and goal can be achieved over time within one single building.
I interviewed Juline Bruck, California life coach and author of Expectations: God's VS Yours, about her personal journey. As opposed to lifting weights, as she specifically explained to me, she more easily grasps the concept of moving a heavy log from one spot to another. (And she's never watched Rocky 4, the movie in which the boxer trained in such a way!) Below, she expresses her view of exercise being more goal-oriented than running in place.
SaladEaters (well... me, Y.Robert): Explain your reservation about your time with your trainer at the gym.
Juline: Fake work. That's what went through my mind as I surveyed the gym. That impression only got stronger as I went from station to station. The weights are happy where they are. They look all in order on the stand. And the exercise bicycle is, um, stationary. I won't be traveling anywhere if I used it. The treadmill, at least, lets you look out through the floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. The rest of the equipment looks so sophisticated. To be honest, I'm intimidated by it.
SaladEaters: Have you seen fitness gym membership work well for others whom you know?
Juline: One of my good friends is a fitness trainer. I do believe in what they do. My youngest daughter loves the gym and has spent nearly every semester of her high school with a body conditioning class located in a well equipped gym.
Clearly these preferences are not genetically expressed. The best effort to explain my reticence is that a workout only has one function. Whereas my life activities involve at least three functions regularly.
SaladEaters: How does walking on a treadmill compete with walking throughout the day for you as exercise? (Or vice versa)
Juline: I will admit my overall ignorance of a treadmill outside a stress test at the cardiologist office. I have always loved to walk and can walk long distances. It's not that the treadmill would be a terrible experience. (I envision its efficiency as a workout with the setting that mimics going uphill.) It's that it's missing all the elements that make taking a walk in the world outside the gym worthwhile.
Ticking the advantages off quickly on my fingers, I'm approachable as a walker. The body is designed for walking. This activity is great for kids and dogs to join in. Relational sharing seems to naturally occur on a walk.
It's free. Stress seems to melt away on a walk. Creative solutions are easier to find. It's even easier to pray when walking. Lastly, I really wanted to go to the destination of the walk for more than just the benefits of the walk.
SaladEaters: What health goals do you intend to achieve with day-to-day casual activity? Juline: Since one of the activities that I do by walking is grocery shopping, this is more than just physical locomotion. This is a full body work out. This has two purposes. One is restricting my impulse buying. Oh, a person literally weighs the value of adding something to the cart if the outcome is having to carry it home. Load bearing means my bones are healthy, and my muscle to weight ratio is good.
I'll have more sustained energy. Since I am a morning person, my days often start at 5 am. This helps me stay active throughout the Southern California summer as this time of day is quite pleasant to be outside. Being able to keep up with two teen daughters (most of the time) is a good indicator that this plan works. Then, as my husband is more active in the evening and into the late hours, long days happen. Listening to my body when it needs some rest and even a power nap is important. I find routine walking as a way of upping my metabolism, which slowed down right at age 34 after the birth of my second child. I've been duking it out with it ever since.
And there's social time. I meet my neighbors more than the average resident, although safe to say I have greeted more of the neighborhood dogs out on their walk than the homeowners. Extroverts like me get more emotional energy after good social connection has happened. Think of it as a buffer protecting good mental health.
SaladEaters: How would you say this routine impacts you as a life coach?
Juline: As a life coach, I sense stresses build up because not all the stresses are my own. Exercise in half hour wedges about three times a day burns off the stress as a type of fuel. I'm not sure that I could go to the gym as often as I fit in exercise in this casual manner.
SaladEaters: You've basically given the initial concept of goal exercising in both conversation and within a previous blog you've written. How would you like to define goal exercising for others who are in a similar journey that we are in as busy moms? Juline: From extended conversations about lifestyle choices with my sister, I'm anticipating what the reservations would be to this plan. The suggestion to get out of the car for any reason will not resonate with many. Trust me, I've heard all the major reasons that are being formulated right now. If the gym is working for you, excellent! For those who intend to go and just don't quite manage to fit it into life's patterns, these options have merit. Increasing time spent in a car eventually has diminishing returns.
My recommendation is to target trips that are between two and three miles or less and see if a bicycle ride will suffice. It should be noted that I personally do not travel on the street even though that is the expectation of the State of California. Too many motorists mentally delete pedestrians and cyclists to safely observe that expectation. Even a former mayor had a broken arm when he was clipped by a cabbie a few years back. A bicycle trailing a child trailer could carry two little ones and some gear. A cruising speed of ten miles an hour would still be a good ratio of time spent to exercise with your daily goals still being observed. Please use due caution and make sure your little ones will be safe!
It's an established fact that walking can "clear the head". Parenting stresses are real. Taking some time before the discharge of frustration to walk out the stress and strategize how one will overcome the challenge helps. As a sidebar to that, having your children exercise some of that energy in a safe, sustained way may prevent some of the frustration at the onset. We tend to watch them play. Walking is something sustainable that parents and children can both do together for longer periods of time.
Instead of seeing the car strictly as saving you time, which is something that no exercise plan can compete with, see the time in it as sedentary. (There is literally no exercise happening.) Maybe this is the reason gyms are popular because a half hour or hour session in a gym create a lot of health value for the time spent. That plan relies on regular attendance. The plan that my life is based around is built into everyday events that have to happen anyway: small errands, seeing local friends, grocery shopping, exercising dogs.
I don't imagine I'm the only one who feels disconnected from the gym because of the impression of fake work. If you're like me, there is an alternative! Build exercise into your life doing what you are already committed to doing!
Listening to Juline explain her take on the need for goal-oriented exercise made me realize something. At this point in my life, I feel the exact same way as a salad-eater.