By David Pekema
While attending Berkeley, my nickname was the Human Metamucil Pill for my abnormal discipline and regularity. Every morning at eight-thirty, I could be found in the gym sweating, pumping, and gyrating away. It brought a level of calm—not to mention health—to my life, and I couldn’t have been happier
. But then graduation came, and like a child ripped from the womb I was left cold, scared, and without a free university gym at my disposal.
Barely a week after moving out of my dorm room, I found myself signing a one-year contract for access to the shabbiest 24 Hour Fitness I’ve ever seen. Fortunately, Smithsonian Hour Fitness made up for its lack of air conditioning and new equipment with an astonishing number of nude septuagenarians doing locker room calisthenics. I reneged before the ten-day trial period was up, and haven’t looked back since. While heading home that day through a community park, under the beautiful coastal sun, something struck me—there was no reason for me to belong to a gym. Everything I needed to stay in shape was right in front of me: the city provided pull-up, dip, and push-up bars for strength training; running and biking trails for cardio; and an adult women’s soccer practice for entertainment.
My decision was looking brilliant—right until the rain came, and then inexplicably refused to go away. My workouts started growing shorter—and more frigid—so I started shopping around again. Sound familiar? Check out the tips below.
The benefits of pumping iron in a gym are numerous: air conditioning, variety, ice-cold drinking fountains, state of the art equipment, and sexy co-eds strutting around in spandex. Frequenting a gym at the same time every day leads to a sense of community. For many, the gym becomes what Ray Oldenburg would call a third place —somewhere to be social other than the home or office. But whether it’s high fees (up to a couple hundred dollars for the types of places that don’t even let me through the front door), overcrowding, or seeing the wrong person in spandex, sometimes all the gym’s "hidden costs" are more than we bargained for.
Finding a Good Deal
Gym memberships can range anywhere from $100 a year to over $200 a month, with initiation fees from $0 to $600+. We can't tell you how much is reasonable to spend on a gym, but here are some essential factors to consider:
By David Pekema
The biggest irony in my transition from college slacker to working stiff is that I get sick a lot more now than when I was in college. How is this possible? One year in the dorms featured vomit-filled sinks, a turd in the shower, and the varsity water polo players. The place was a germ factory, yet I somehow
made it through unscathed.
Shortly after moving to Southern California, I started sneezing all the time and constantly getting sick. I tried everything I could think of—replacing my grimy pillow, taking allergy medication , even calling Mommy—but nothing worked. Then something finally dawned on me one day at work, while surrounded by an especially loud chorus of hacking—my office was making me sick. An unhealthy lifestyle is a side effect of the fast-paced architecture firm where I work. We put in long hours, eat crappy meals at odd times, rarely sleep, and, in my case, drink ridiculous amounts of Bacardi 151.
You can’t prevent your coworkers from getting sick. Fortunately, by living in moderation and making time for the things that matter, you will be healthier, look better, and get sick less often. Just follow these steps.
We’re all pressed for time. If we could just tack on a couple additional hours to the day, we’d have no problem getting the daily seven to nine hours of Zs the National Sleep Foundation recommends. Any less and you are putting yourself at risk. Sleepfoundation.org reports that roughly “100,000 police-reported crashes are caused by drowsy drivers each year.” Even if you do make it through your commute, sleep deprivation results in decreased mental function, increased stress levels, and a generally high bitchiness level (to use the scientific term). If you’re not getting enough rest, the other things required to live a healthy lifestyle—maintaining a balanced diet, exercise, etc.—will also suffer.
One strategy is to use your bed only for sleep. Getting into the habit of watching television or reading in bed creates the expectation that some other activity must take place before you can go to sleep. There is only one activity besides sleep that’s perfectly acceptable for under the covers, only because nothing tuckers us out like a good romp in the hay.
More tips on how to get some shuteye .
We live in a country where 50% of the population is overweight or obese, and heart disease is the number one killer. These stats are the direct result of poor diets and not enough exercise. It’s easy to get into a rut in these areas after college, but it’s even easier to get out of it.
I’ll be the first to admit that eating out is delicious and convenient, but unfortunately it is surprising...
By Arielle Sachar
There’s a reason we get sucked into watching those shows on cable on the 100 Most Wanted Bodies or the Tightest Thighs on TV or, these days, the Sexiest Sixteen Year-Olds on the Planet. Despite the half-eaten boxes of Milanos in our laps and the chocolate crumbs stuck to the corner of our mouths, we all want
superstar arms, supermodel thighs, and abs of a Greek god. Unfortunately, starting salaries don’t always provide the funds necessary to hire a personal trainer and a personal chef who can turn you into a specimen like Roger Federer. But have no fear, my friends. There are ways to avoid the slow burn on your budget and still stay fit. Just follow these simple and easy routines at home or at the gym and soon you’ll have your own special on VH1: Best Bodies with the Least Hassle.
Laying a Foundation
First up, what should you aim for? A solid goal should be moderate-intensity workouts 5x a week for at least 30 minutes or intense workouts 3x a week for 20 or more minutes per session. Then, throw in some strength training 2-3x a week to build up muscle mass, increase your metabolism, and improve both your mental and physical health. Check out national standards and governmental recommendations on physical activity.
Getting motivated is another story. One fun approach is find an exercise buddy—if someone else is depending on you to work out, the guilt trip could be the fire that lights your hungover/lazy/sore butt out of bed. Grab a friend, post an ad on Craigslist or a gym’s bulletin board, or even find a fitness partner with similar goals at readytosweat.com . Joining a league is another option, and there’s always a range of sports and skill levels to choose from. See if your company has any teams, and check out local rags, league websites, and gyms for more information. Finally, if you’re not much of a team-oriented athlete, you can join a charity run, walk, or triathlon and raise money for a good cause while getting a sick body to boot. Check out local running and biking clubs for events or try Race for the Cure , Live Strong , or the Jimmy Fund .
Exercise At Home
Sometimes just the thought of going to the gym can make you even more nauseous than the fried calamari and tequila shots from the night before. Most of our generation wants things to be quick, easy, and effective, and what better way to streamline than by working out without ever leaving the comfort of your own home! Whether you pop in a Jane Fonda VHS from your mom’s video library or follow the routines below, you’ll be able to roll out of bed in the dirty clothes, make unattractive grunting noises, and pick all your wedgies. No one will be watching except that creepy neighbor with the binoculars…but you secretly like that anyway.
Check out our survival guide on Beginning Yoga to find out how you ...