Last Updated on June 21, 2018 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
I work in a very small health club in a very small town in Vermont that many will proudly tell you is perpetually stuck in a time warp of decades past. As a whole, the town is the antithesis of modern, and the majority of people seem to like it that way. The health club itself is over 24 years old, and a good bit of the equipment is equally as old. Impeccably maintained and functioning, but decades old none the less. The cardio equipment is much newer, however still aged enough that it lacks all of the bells and whistles that practically wipe the sweat off of you as you do the exercise, as seen on brand new models.
As one would expect, part of my duties at the gym include giving tours and signing up new members. A portion of potential members are already active and well versed in gyms and working out, but the majority of them are not. They are what we call in the industry “health seekers”, and they have now entered the “preparation” stage of the Transtheoretical Model of Change. They want to get in shape, they don’t necessarily know how to do it, but they figure joining a gym is a logical first step. As I tour them around the facility, I can always see the hesitation in the faces of the health seekers as they face a room full of basic, black free weights and dull, standard cable machines that aren’t practically glowing in their purple or neon yellow plastic coated newness. The potential members usually don’t know what it is they are looking for, or even at, but they assume that newer MUST equal better…and this isn’t it.
When I see this hesitation, I always ask the potential member what their intentions and goals are at the gym, and I push them to ask me questions. Nine times out of ten their desired goal is weight loss. Nine times out of ten the following question is “what is the best machine at the gym for that…and do you have it?” My answer?
YOU are the best machine in this gym for weight loss, or any gym for that matter.
A ten pound dumbell forged in 2014 is not going to get you stronger any faster than a ten pound dumbell forged in 1990 if you never pick it up.
You will not burn more calories on a state of the art treadmill versus a basic model if you never get on it and put in the effort.
A personal best dead-lift is still a personal best dead-lift whether it is done in a huge Crossfit box with brand new Rouge bumper plates, or if its done in your uncle’s garage with his rusty Olympic bar and dented plates from the 70’s.
A pound is a pound. A nine minute mile is a nine minute mile. 10 pullups are 10 pullups. I could go on and on…
You see, it all begins with YOU. Your effort and your dedication paired with proper form and execution is the best “machine” in this gym, or any gym, for weight loss. Of course “state of the art” facilities and equipment can be motivating, even convenient in some instances, but it is not necessary to achieve your goals, and what’s more, worthless if you don’t put forth the effort. And no man made piece of equipment or instruction can put in the effort for you, except for you.
Which brings me outside of the gym: I often hear from stay at home mothers or other health seekers who cannot afford a gym membership. Guess what? You don’t need one. Even as one who earns a paycheck that essentially comes from others purchasing gym memberships, I’ll still be the first to tell you that you don’t NEED a gym membership to achieve your weight loss or fitness goals. (Don’t tell my boss I told you that.) You also don’t need an expensive workout DVD set, or a treadmill in your basement, or any of the other pricey equipment being sold seemingly everywhere. Convenient? Sure, but necessary? Nope.
Because you already own the best piece of workout equipment: it’s you.
(Have I made myself clear yet?)
So in conclusion, work with what you ALWAYS have: you. MOVE your body. PUSH outside of your comfort zone. LIFT heavy things (even if it’s your own body weight!). Get your heart rate up, often. Determine what your goals are, and don’t let any one thing, place, person, or item stop you from reaching them.
Virtual high five! Heather-soap-box-moment-over-and-out. Now go do some burpees.
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.