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The 20-Minute Myth
by Bob Bonham


Who Needs a Gym When You Can Buy So Many Great Workout Machines on TV?

As you are bombarded by ads on television about home gym equipment and assured that just 20 minutes on this machine or that machine will give you the body of a cover model, you begin to ask yourself: Do these machines really work? Will I really use them at home? Is it easier to work out at home? Can one machine really do what it takes 10 machines to do in a gym?

The 20-Minute Myth
First of all, if you work out, 20 minutes a day, three times per week, you will make "some" improvements in your body. When you see a gorgeous model on TV say he or she only works out 20 minutes a day, they generally omit the fact that they don’t consider cardiovascular work part of the workout. The 20 minutes per day is 20 minutes of hard, solid work, and along with this, a serious diet program.

If you want to achieve coverboy or covergirl results with the 20-minute, three-times- per-week machine, you have to be one of those "one in a million" genetically so-gifted people that you can eat ice cream and cake nightly, do a few light exercises and a "to-die-for" body just materializes magically. I have yet to meet anyone like this, but rumor has it that such people exist.

Should I Buy That Machine?
So, back to the question: should I buy a machine for the home? If you have the money, why not? Some days when you can’t get to the gym or you just feel like doing a few extra sets, you can use it. Should you count on one machine to get you into optimum shape? Only if you are totally disciplined and by some magic find a machine that is totally suited to your body. Despite what most ads say, some machines do not function well for tall people, or in other cases – short people. No one machine can do what a gym full of machines can do. That’s just marketing.

Should I Join a Gym?
If you want to stay in shape and you can afford to, the answer is a resounding "yes." The equipment is just one of the reasons for joining a gym. A gym is a place where exercise occurs. The moment you walk through the door that is clear. When you go to a gym, you always work out at some level. At home you answer the phone, check on dinner, and deal with the family. Since the machine is always there, you can always put off the workout. It’s the "Oh, I’ll do that later" syndrome.

At the gym, once you arrive, you can leave everything else on your mind at the door and focus solely on your workout , your body, your improvement. This is your time. This is for you. This is what the TV ad that says "It’s important, I deserve it" really means.

Although the TV ads espouse that you can use the same machine over and over, who wants to do that? Following the same routine on the same machine can get downright boring. Variety is fun and "shocks" the muscles and makes them grow and tone faster.

Are Gyms Intimidating?
Some people say they find gyms intimidating. They are looking at it in the wrong manner. It should be inspiring. If you think that people have better bodies than you, then work out harder to improve yours. If you think that people are looking at you and talking about you, forget it. Most of them are thinking about themselves. The old myths of superjocks ridiculing and bullying the weaker people in the gym are cliches. No well-run gym would allow that.

People pay to go to gyms to work out. People in gyms respect other people who work out. If they see someone who is overweight or just out of shape working out diligently, generally you hear them say, under their breath, "Good for him" or "Good for her."

You also go to a gym because there are people available to help you, to guide you, to design a program that’s right for you. A videotape and a manual cannot substitute for a trained professional who will point out the most effective way to achieve results.

And when you work out with other people, they become your "gym family." You may not see them any other place besides the gym, but they increase the fun of gym-going. They generally comment on your improvement (even if your family and friends don’t) and encourage you to work harder.

When you find the right gym, you will want to go. It will be one of the most pleasurable parts of your day. For as long as you stay in the gym, you will clear your mind of all the day’s problems and work on one thing: your personal improvement. Is it addictive? You bet. But what a great addiction!


Bob is a regular contributor to many bodybuilding magazines.





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