Is It Time To Build A Home Gym?

A short piece on impulsive desires during uncertain times

The short answer is no. It may be tempting, but believe me you’re better off putting that money somewhere else.

The entire prompt for this article — as stated within the title — is a reflection of a thought that’s been looming in the back of my head in light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve been locked-in in house arrest for the past fortnight as a result of intensifying fear and panic that’s been sweeping through my local community, which meant that I was unable to sustain my usual fitness routines at the gym. Owing to the fact that I do not own a home gym, I was faced with limited resources in the exercising department.

Exercise is undoubtedly important in times like these. We are not exposing ourselves to the level of physical activity that we’re so used to having in the pre-lockdown work days through either job commute or physically-demanding duties in the line of work as a result of being cooped up in our makeshift offices. We are simply not burning enough calories sitting idly at home, and our bodies are undergoing lapses of reduced metabolism.

To quote from David Niemen, a Human Performance Lab director whose review was featured in a brilliantly written piece by Christie Aschwanden, “[Our] data show that physically active people have a 40–50% reduction in the number of days they’re ill with acute respiratory infections.”

As a person who goes to the gym a lot, I am starting to really miss it. My body aches to get back to the weights and I know my inactivity has also started to eat up on my muscles, counteracting the muscle-building investment I have ventured upon since I started lifting some good years ago.

The current state of affairs has forced me to be extra creative with the 2, 6-kg dumbbells that I have collecting dust behind a set of old suitcases, a jump rope, and some bags of uncooked rice.

Obviously things are quite bearable, until I’ve reached the fifth consecutive day of bicep curls and shoulder presses. And then my mind starts veering off, thinking about how nice it would be to have my own gym at home; maybe start with a practical and versatile pull-up bar, then a battle rope, expander cables, then a bench, weights, and ten minutes later I would have built a blueprint for a five-star fitness hall that I could open for an entire neighbourhood.

Would that be nice? Yes of course, I have no doubt that it would be nice. But is it sensible? Maybe not so much. You see, this is what I think of as impulse buying — buying without a clear plan in advance and often based on sudden urges and whims. This is what humans face on a daily basis. It’s like that overpowering urge to purchase that new coffee maker you see on TV, the new pair of sneakers you see your friends start wearing, or that new tumbler you think looks ‘cute’. Reality check — it does not look cute, it’s your brain playing tricks on you.

In this scenario, my brain is essentially closing off the possible existence of alternatives because of the impulse running riot in my cerebrum. If my sole aim is to exercise and get sweat to start flowing, then in all its simplicity, I can easily purchase a yoga mat and start stretching, and that’s a puny investment compared to a $1000 home gym.

Or I can go to Google and try to look for alternatives there — there are plenty of helpful resources and regimens that you can follow from the safe confines of your own backyard. Julian Smith has adapted a routine based on makeshift weights involving a suitcase filled with books and dirty laundry, entire apps built on such premises like Aaptiv and the conveniently named Home Workout, and even comprehensive Reddit threads on this very subject.

And for us nature-loving folks, there’s plenty of hope. Health officials still consider the outdoors as safe communal grounds given you keep your distance with other individuals, and that makes running, jogging, and cycling completely viable options. In addition to the calories burnt, outdoor exercise can also provide connection to nature, which is thought to be empowering for your mental health.

This article’s intent is to help people acknowledge and take appropriate measures for urges and impulses that can at times seem like the only logical path to traverse through. This is why impulse buys are never calculated and well thought out. When you remove the sense of urgency, and give it some time to cool down, you start being more rational and logical, enabling you to see your intentions through a more objective lens.

That’s why personal finance evangelists like Stefanie Rodriguez encourage us to institute a hold policy to our purchases. This is practiced by jotting down something you intend to purchase into a wish list, then giving it some time before you check back to gauge in your interest. In essence, you’re evaluating your initial intentions, and seeing if you still want it as bad as you did before the hold. Stefanie suggests a 24-hour timeframe, but I recommend a more conservative 7-14 day frame. No matter the timeframe, chances are your impulse flames would have simmered down significantly if not completely died out.

That being said, it’s good measure to invest in some basic workout kit to make your WFH (Workout From Home) more effective, variegated, and fun. I’m no fitness trainer, but I would advice looking into a jump rope and a fitness mat of sorts — a setup that would cost you well under $100 — and one that I guarantee you’ll do wonders with, even after the pandemic is well over its expiry.

Written by

Junior doctor, writer, photographer, and part-time social media strategist. Receive weekly updates from me ⤵

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