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The True Cost of Joining a Gym

January 2nd, 2007 at 10:52 pm

Every January, people surge to the local gyms, determined to get a jump on their vows to get in shape for the new year. Gym memberships spike sharply in January, bolstered by the legions who are out to lose those holiday pounds (and then some). As I was stopping by the pharmacy last night, I glanced across the shopping plaza at local NYSC, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the big banner which read, "JOIN NOW FOR $20.07*!!!"

"WOW that is a phenomenal deal!" was my first reaction. But what was the catch? I went home to dig around some more on the internet and boy was I surprised to learn the true cost to joining the local NYSC:

$20.07 is just the cost of "joining." Remember that little asterik? The very, very fine print revealled, "Monthly charges and $49 processing fee also apply." Hmm, so it costs only $20 to say you'll become a member (isn't talk supposed to be cheap?) but then $49 to sign and push around papers? And what about those monthly charges? Not too surprising, the NYSC website did NOT have an easy-access page that listed monthly fees, but after a Google search, I finally discovered it to be $89/month.

So, in total:
$20.07 + $49 + (89*12) = $1137.07 for a 1yr gym membership! And who knows what other hidden fees lurk within? Locker rental, personal trainer or dietician fees, daycare, not to mention the penalty fee should you decide to break the contract.

$20.07? I think I'll run clear of that "deal."

Best Time to Exercise- part 2

December 8th, 2006 at 02:12 pm

Ok, my fingers are cold so I'll type to try and warm them up.
Question: When is the best time of day to exercise?

Noon(ish)-
The sun is out (usually), the temperatures are warmer, and your muscles, as fueled by breakfast (you did eat one, didn't you?), are finally warmed up and ready. So what's stopping you from doing your exercise routine during your lunch break? The most obvious is the "sweat factor" especially when your workplace has no shower facilities. Well, I wouldn't recommend doing a strenuous workout if you are meeting with high-level clients at 1 or something, but it definitely is possible to workout during lunch and still look presentable afterwards, sans shower. A towel is a big help. The other key are baby wipes/wet wipes. Now, they do tend to smell like powder or flowers so I'm not sure what if that's exactly right for you manly men. But in a pinch, a towel and some water works just fine.

The biggest problem I've encountered with running during lunch is the time restraint. I feel like taking the entire hour is sort of pushing it, since it tends to be workworkwork at my office most of the time. Coworkers have expressed much surprise upon seeing me in running clothes (or "jog togs" as my supervisor calls it) and asked me (a bit peevishly), "You actually have time for that?" I normally like to go running for 6-10 miles at a stretch, but with the 1 hr time limit I have to be sure to fit in time for a stretch and cleanup, which means (for me) less of a workout. Another problem, of course, are the unexpected meetings, emergencies, and other work-related business that pop up last minute. So, while your energy levels are at a maximum and the weather is at its' prime, the mid-day timing may not work for everybody.

Afterwork/night-
This has never worked well for me, though there are benefits. If you like having a workout buddy, nighttime tends tobe the best time to meet up. It also seems easier for most people to swing by the gym at this time. Since the gyms are packed, this could be good motivation as well.

Scientifically, your body has been working all day and burning/processing all your food intake into energy. So you have lots of fuel to keep you going. Also, your body is more efficient at converting metabolites into energy, so you're less likely to feel tired.

However, there's just something about it being the end of the day that, well, tires my mind out. I don't know about you, but after work, just want to go home, cook, eat and sleep. But again, other people may seem the afterwork workout to be a great way to burn off the daily stress and to relax.

That's my spiel for now. As many of you have pointed out, exercise at ANY time of day is beneficial, so why not get started now? Have a great workout and have fun!

The "Best" Time to Exercise- Part 1

December 7th, 2006 at 02:08 pm

Despite all the debates and arguements, there really is no "one size fits all" answer. As with most "is it or isn't it good for you?" debates, results vary depending on the individual. As an avid runner,I have varied my routine several times to adjust to my changing life situations, so these are my personal observations, as well as some of the more reasonable medical evidence I've encountered.

Morning-
What better way to start your day than with an energy-boosting workout? The early release of endorphins may also pave the way to a good day. Psychologically, exercising in the morning is the best way to "get it over with." Studies have also shown that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to establish and maintain their routine. Egotistically, you have something to feel proud about (while people were still in bed, you were clocking in the miles on your run).

Physically, though, your body is more prone to injury at this hour. Like your mind, your body needs some time to wake up. Thus it is extremely important that you stretch and warm up prior to starting your morning workout.

As for the question as to whether you burn more fat by exercising in the AM; well, logically, if your last meal was at 7PM the night prior, then when you go exercise 12 hrs later at 7AM, it's likely there won't be as much sugars floating in the system to be converted to quick energy. So, yes, fat is the next source of energy. However, if you have ever looked at the pathway of fat metabolism, you might notice it is an arduous process. Alhough you inevitably burn off fat in a workout, your body is does so slowly. in the early morning hours, the body may not be able to burn fat as efficiently as it could be later in the day.

Despite it all, morning has my vote. The biggest reason is that I've lived in the south for many years, and the summers were so humid and hot that I had not choice but to run in the early morning- and I loved it! The air was fresh and the sunrise was a joy to watch. I loved getting my run done and then having the rest of the day to spend in the lab (bleh). Also, there was the added benefit of being able to shower and freshen up inthe comforts of home.

That's it for now. Coming soon, the pros and cons to working out at other hours of the day.