I stay in shape by simply walking the stairs instead of taking the elevator, or riding my bike a lot instead of taking the car. I have no need for expensive equipment.
And I think you'll get a lot more structure into your life when you incorporate a workout into your natural routine instead of letting it be dependable upon a fixed location where visiting is completely optional.
---------- Post added 2013-06-29 at 05:55 PM ----------
I thought the thread was about getting fit as opposed to getting muscular. Being fit is important for your health, being muscular serves no real purpose.
At least, for most people who visit the gym it adds absolutely nothing to their life. If you do heavy lifting in the harbour then I can totally understand being muscular serves a purpose as it comes naturally, but just visiting a gym to get a certain look is just childish if you ask me. If you aren't going to use those muscles for anything, then why have them?
Fitness is a culmination of multiple things which includes strength training. You can stay in relative shape by simply staying active and eating properly, but if you want to take it to any serious level you need to include some form of strength training. For some people, that means going further than others.
For myself, I couldn't complete my workouts without a good power rack, barbels, dumbells, a multitude of weights and the space to accommodate them and that is simple not feasible. A gym provides awesome equipment and the space to do what I want to do. Just because you do not value what I or others chose to do does not invalidate it.
Your hypothesis doesn't really match your thread title. You seem to be saying "You don't need a gym in order to lose weight/gain muscle/remain fit." I agree with that statement completely. What I don't agree with is the statement that gyms are ruining physical health. I don't think I've ever seen someones health actually deteriorate as a result of going to the gym.
I have a gym membership for a few reasons:
1. The equipment is much better than what I have at home, resulting in a more versatile workout.
2. Seeing other people working out motivates me to work out harder, and stay longer.
3. I don't have to worry about making a mess, moving furniture around, being distracted by my computer/television/whatever.
4. Sauna. They are incredibly awesome.
5. Group workout classes.
While I agree with you to an extent, I think what he means is that there is a mindset that for people to get in shape they need to go to a gym. Thus, a gym membership is expensive, and therefore for a lot of people, just not worth it. So instead of going to a gym, or working out at home, they do nothing, and ruin their health that way.
I'd also point out thou, that really 90% of losing weight is diet. Realistically, no amount of exercise outside of the workouts for people training for the Olympics or something is going to burn enough cals to lose the weight.
As to your points:
1) You can actually have an extremely versatile workout at home if you know how to workout and how to change some simple exercises. For examples: a) Men's or Women's Health Home Workout Bible, b) You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises by Mark Lauren
2) That's just you. It can have the opposite effect on other people. They see someone lean and buff and they think I'll never look like that so why try.
3) Again, just you. Realistically, actual Bodyweight workouts don't really require a lot of moving furniture around. A lot of people also find television, music, etc... helps distract the body and the mind and you can go longer because you're attention is elsewhere.
4) No response
5) While true, again back to point 2, it can intimidate people
Instead of blaming the best place to go to, blame the schools instead. They don't promote physical activity anymore. Most elementary schools now days have completely obliterated gym class.
Being just 23, the curriculum has done a complete 180 in a matter of a decade. I have more in common with my parents gym class, who are both 51 than I do with kids who are 12,13. My high school dropped gym and weight lifting class from being mandatory, to optional two years ago.
Elementary gym class is what got all my friends and practically my entire grade into some kind of sport. We had a very healthy class all the way to my senior year. Maybe 10% of my graduation class was obese because nearly everyone stuck with sports. It was because our gym teachers, even our math, science, what have you will teachers were all involved in our health at an early age. We were even rewarded for our health. For instance, if we tested above average as a whole class, we would have a field day where we would do sock wrestling, sprints, potato sack racing, four square, dodgeball, kickball you name it. They brought out the snow cone machines and popcorn for snacks and plenty of water so we could play outside all day. It was actually fun to be in school.
Gym was such an important classroom for me. On a typical day, gym was always the first class. Got off the school bus, went to homeroom to wake up and socialize with friends for 15 minutes before gym. Class for 1 hour. Shortly after was music class. Something that everyone had to participate in. Then we began our basic principles. For the very reasons of having gym and music first, my mind was ready to learn. I truly believe gym shaped who I am today.
I don't know about anyone else but the reason I got a gym membership was to swim. The only places around my house that have swimming pools are gyms and country clubs. I'm not big on country clubs.
A year ago I decided I wanted to lose weight. I'm lazy as all hell. If you're lazy and want to lose weight, diet is the way to go. I swapped from regular sodas to diet sodas and became pickier about what I eat. Before the gym membership I lost 100lbs.
If you've been fat your whole life then shed 100lbs there is skin everywhere. The only activity that I think I could actually do on a regular basis for exercise is swimming. Sure there is stuff I could do at home to tone, but it doesn't usually make me feel any better about myself. Not to mention, there are times when all I want to do is get out of the house and the gym gives me a place I can go to workout then sit in the hot tub and relax.
The machines are interesting and every once in a while I'll go play with one of them, but I've never wanted to be ripped or even particularly muscular. I just want to not jiggle when I move.
I think that gyms are like any other popular culture business. If you research what you need and go in knowing what you want to get out of it you can make an informed decision. Anything you ever buy was made to simply make you spend money. Nothing exists just to make you a better person. Gyms were created to get people to spend money on something they shouldn't need. So long as you realize you're buying into a system designed to screw you, you can try your best to get your money's worth.