A small matter of choice

I am in the middle of my gym binge right now. A gym binge is a period of time between a firm decision to get yourself a six pack and a full rejection of any repetitive movements. It usually lasts three to four months ending up in abandonment of any hope to look like Paul Walker and a disgusting cheeseburger orgy. Gym binges come in annual cycles relieving you of a certain amount of pounds both in cash and fat equivalents (hopefully keeping the ratio to a minimum).

I am into the initial month of the current binge and a familiar problem is posing itself. Which workout do I choose?

Since I got my foot through the door of my first gym – a dingy establishment run by a morose cubiform individual named Alex, located in a school basement on Wolfson street, Petah-Tikva, Israel – I have been observing this ever changing fitness landscape with an ever growing mix of anxiety and excitement. Back in Alex’s place his paying customers – mostly bulky looking young males – lifted heavy metallic objects in an upwards direction while grunting excessively and shaking their muscular arms during carefully measured intervals. That was a workout: you lift, grunt and rest. Then repeat.

Since then the amount of things available to do in the gym increased dramatically. I have witnessed the rise of HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – where a group of adepts led by an overly enthusiastic instructor perform strength and cardio exercises in quick succession skipping those important intervals blindly adhered to by the sombre clientele of Alex’s gym. Bodypump, Bootcamp, Grit Strength… you name it.

Kettlebell swings have recently become another popular alternative to the good old weightlifting routine. In this workout you use a single kettlebell for most of your strength exercises. The idea is that various types of swings work on larger groups of muscles thus making the workout more effective and hopefully … shorter.

There is also TRX classes, CrossFit program, Gymnastics Strength Training and many more.

So the question still stands: which one to pick if you want to utilise the latest achievements of sports science? After all there is social pressure in the gym as well. You don’t want to look like a dinosaur with your old school routine from the 90-s! Reading online just makes things worse. It’s just too much information for an untrained mind that still has a day job.

So you turn to a professional who can set your mind at ease. Unfortunately Ben – the professional gym instructor whose reassuring smile and a firm handshake fill you up with confidence – charges 90 pounds for 45 minutes of his time. This price shifts the ‘cash vs fat’ pound ratio to the level which you can still afford but rather prefer not to pay.

In the end after careful consideration having significantly overcomplicated just another week of your life you decide that whatever you do in the gym still counts. You joyfully wander over there with a scan of a handwritten workout written for you by Alex 20 years ago on the very first day of your very first gym binge. The gym that you left after whole six months and only because the single girl who dared to come to that place rejected your frail attempts to impress her.

Now, I am just kidding here. I do have a work-out routine compiled recently by a somewhat professional instructor. The point I am trying to make is that this abundance of choice isn’t really helpful anymore. Especially because it concerns pretty much every aspect of our lives ranging from a simple purchase of hangers through to a slightly more elaborate headphones shopping ending in a confounding maze of workout choices, holiday rentals and mortgage options.

Some consider this a blessing but all I want after weeks of research is someone knowledgeable enough to take you me by hand and lead me through this jungle telling me ‘Do this, don’t do that, buy this and keep away from that’. This is why we have so many consultants nowadays. There is just too much choice 🙂

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