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Monday, January 5, 2009

Let's play shape-up

The other day I was with a friend, discussing exercise and such, and she said: "This is the worst time of the year for regular gym-goers. The first few weeks of the new year the gym is full of people who have included 'exercise' or 'weight loss' as part of their New Year's resolutions, and the gym is overcrowded, full of people who don't really want to be there, and let me tell you, they are not good company". Heh. That sounds like a familiar scene. Statistics tell us that over 50% of the people who started going to the gym as part of their vow to get healthier, slimmer, more active in the New Year will drop out within the first 3 months, and likely not return at all before the year is over.

Is that a surprise? Hardly. And not because exercise is a generally disliked activity - it's because when you say "exercise" most people envision sweating for hours running on a treadmill, or frantically pedaling in spinning class. Personally, I have to admit that neither of those things sound tempting to me, either. I don't really like running or pedaling without ever getting anywhere (although some would beg to differ, since regular spinning got them to a smaller size).

The truth is that in order to be healthier, more active, you don't necessarily need to have a gym membership. You can workout outside. Your can get some equipment or videos and workout at home. I personally have a nice collection of videos, and while most gym bunnies snob exercise videos as dorky and "so 80s", anyone who has tried some of the new videos knows that there are some really good workouts out there on DVD. BeachBody, would appear as the obvious choice, because their 30-minute infomercials make them sound very appealing.

To be honest, I have tried 4 different programs they carry and I didn't like any of them. I found Power 90 incredibly boring, while some others, like Yoga Booty Ballet, Hip Hop Abs and Turbo Jam were way too cheesy for me. Not to mention that Turbo Jam didn't feel safe for the knees and Hip Hop Abs was, as my friend Sam would put it,"a load of wank". I ended up giving them away or trading them on SwapaDVD.com which, frankly, is just a brilliant idea. It's great to have a place where you can trade your DVDs if you don't like them, because you never feel like you wasted money, as long as you get to try something else. By the way, if you decide to check out SwapADVD (a free service), my nickname is HipMom - feel free to add me to your buddy list if.

An even better option, if you don't really know what you ware looking for, is to rent workout DVDs and try them at home for a few days. Netflix has some workout DVDs. Another option is Mypypeline.com, where you can download videos to keep or "rent" them for 24 hours and stream directly from your pc. The cool thing is that they also have programs for lots of different goals and levels, from beginner to advanced, from getting fit to play golf to postpartum fitness.

In the past year, a new trend has developed: people using Wii Fit to become more active. To be completely honest, I don't think you can have a well-rounded fitness routine by using only the Wii Fit, however it does offer lots of good points:
1. for starters, it's infinitely better than doing no exercise at all. At least you are standing and moving around.
2. if you are a busy parent you may find it easier to fit in a few challenges on the Wii Fit with your kids, than getting through a 30-minute workout uninterrupted (yes, that is from personal experience).
3. if you are just starting out, playing is a way for you to gradually get into exercising, improve your balance, your strength, your cardio capacity, without it feeling like too much work.

The market for Wii Fit-related products has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year, and now there are lots of games and activities to choose from. Even Gillian from The Biggest Loser made a Wii Fit workout!

Everyone wants to get in on the action! The popular videogame chain GameStop has actually come up with a month-long a campaign called “Sharpen the Mind, Shape the Body” that includes a special incentive to discover active gaming. This isn't limited to Wii-Fit, it also includes Dance Dance Revolution and other active games, as well as games that do more in terms of "sharpening the mind" like Brain Age or Crosswords DS. You can stop by a local store and try out games that match your interests and skill level, and if you spend $35 or more on designated products will receive a free 12-month trial subscription to Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Good Housekeeping or Esquire.
This is your chance to see if this is something you might enjoy, because you can try different things for free!

Like many, I really didn't see the big deal about Wii until my husband got one last Christmas. And now I see why it isn't like the other game consoles, a passive thing. Same with Wii Fit: I wasn't even sure I wanted it, but my husband got it and now I have to admit I'm glad he did. My favorite part about using Wii Fit is reason number 4: after a while using the Wii Fit, you will likely realize that you don't actually dread exercise as much as you though, and you might feel more comfortable branching out into other activities, be it pilates, kickboxing, dancing, or jumping on the elliptical trainer that has been sitting in the home office pretty much unused (*ahem* no reference to anyone specific, I swear).

And then you'll be on your way to a healthier, slimmer you. It may be trite, but little changes add up.


Ryan Ashley Scott@Opitimistic Cyicism said...

Don't forget the Wii Fit's wonderful tendancy towards snark! As my friend (who was always one of those ultra-thin w/ no effort girls until she stopped smoking last year) likes to say, "That B*tch is mean to me!"

Let me add that putting on some funky kid's music (Laurie Berkner/ Dan Zanes/ Jim Gil..) and dancing your butt off every day with your young child is another great way to forget you're working out.

Keely said...

My Wii is out on loan right now, and it's killing me!

Elisa said...

You crazy woman, you lent out your Wii? I'm impressed at your selflessness, you are a better woman than I am - no way anyone is touching my Wii ;-)

Kristy said...

I wish I had a Wii in the first place....can I borrow it next?

Teapot said...

hi, just stopping by!

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