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August 1, 2012

Why Quitting Your Gym Membership Can Generate Your Best Workouts Yet

I haven’t had a gym membership for the last 6 weeks–the longest time without one since the very first time I signed up at 15. I quit my full-time “real job” 6 weeks ago, which was at a university running all their fitness facilities and programs. A great job, plus free access to a huge fitness facility. When I quit, I planned on signing right up at a gym down the street. But I thought, “Ahh, I’ll wait a week, do some outdoor workouts this week, and join next week.” Well, eventually–competitive person I am (with myself)–I thought, let’s see how long I can hold out and do these “unconventional” workouts. And so, it’s been 6 weeks & still going strong.

[Disclaimer, I do, of course, have access to the Metabolic Effect studio, with a squat rack, plenty of dumbbells, benches, barbells, etc. But not one traditional cardio machine in sight–which for a former cardio queen and figure competitor was, at first, a little unsettling!]

Over the last 6 weeks, I have lifted more consistently, sprinted more and did more hills than I have in years. Simply because they are my only options. I couldn’t even read a magazine on an elliptical if I wanted to. Which, I believe, is the trap of traditional cardio machines. They allow for you to stay at a moderate pace, zone out and simply watch minutes tick down while catching up on US Weekly. Though some people hate that, I actually have always found that fairly relaxing. Way more relaxing than sprinting up hills, surely. But, it begs the question: should exercise be relaxing? Um, no. Well, not for fat loss. Sure, walking, yoga, tai chi, etc. all have a place in helping to tone the parasympathetic nervous system and we need restorative activities. But if I want fat loss, I need to work harder. It needs to burn a little bit. 

Turns out, getting out of the traditional gym was just the push I needed to get uncomfortable. Doing things I have not been very diligent about doing. Though I know the science of intense training, I would find myself opting more and more to read on an incline treadmill or peddle on a recumbent bike while watching the news. *hangs head in shame* Not all the time of course, but 1-2 times a week–it’s normal to want to skirt intensity and just cruise. And I was going deeper down that path.

So, back to the present, where I literally kick my own ass daily with intense cardio & weights. Want to know what my weekly split looks like now? Here it is:

Monday: Train Legs with Tara, 20 min Tempo Run outside (about 7:30 min/mile pace)
Tuesday: Train Chest/Triceps with Tara + track sprints, 10 x 70m
Wednesday: Train Back/Biceps with Tara, no cardio
Thursday: Hill Sprints with Tara, 8 x 20s (yes, that’s a total of 2m 30s & I literally die)
Friday: Train Shoulders with Tara, add a metabolic finisher with ropes/KBs, etc
Saturday: Track sprints, 6 x 200m
Sunday: Off

Jade and I also walk for 60 minutes every day at a very slow, leisurely pace with coffee. See? I do restorative stuff too! :)

But that’s it! No steady-state cardio, no big box gyms, no machines or group fitness classes. It’s definitely been a shock to my body, and I can see changes even though it’s only been 6 weeks. Here is my latest progress pic (looking the same as January & April–maintenance is my goal):

The goal is efficient exercise.

Why workout for an hour when you can attain the same results in 20 minutes? I have girls all the time tell me they are doing 2 hours of cardio a day just to maintain. How intense can it actually be when it’s 120 minutes of cardio? I dare you to cut it down to 30 minutes, pick up the intensity, and show me that you don’t get just as great results OR BETTER. Steady-state cardio is old school. You don’t need it to lose fat or maintain. Nutrition is of course key, but more exercise is not better. Better, faster, more intense, QUALITY exercise is superior for fat loss. Good bye counting down the minutes. Let’s just count seconds instead!

If you want to get more workout ideas and try some beta workouts for me, Join my #LeanBuilding workout program 

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