Really? We’re Still Doing JUST the Cardio Thing?

Last night I was taking a late evening stroll with the little one since he was crabby as all heck and I figured a little crisp air might help him relax (which thankfully it did), when I noticed, as I passed by the little local gym, something that perplexed me. (Or, I could also say that it was something that made total sense to me which in turn made me feel sorry for those poor gym members.)


Shall I set the scene? Small town, main road, plenty of foot traffic, storefronts lining the street; here sits a little local gym, snuggled among other storefronts with three LARGE windows looming over us passerbyers (much to the chagrin of its members who are on full display for our enjoyment—and pity.) Anyway, so at the first window what you see is all the machines (and not a soul), and at the 2nd window you see all the cardio equipment—treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bikes—(PACKED, not one machine available), and at the 3rd window you see the mats, row machine, medicine balls, stability balls, roman chair, free weights.. you get the idea (and not a soul).

Can you understand my perplexed face as I walk by you, you who is walking on the treadmill at a medium pace? Oh wait, you’re reading the latest People mag so you don’t see me at all.

Really? We’re still doing this treadmill thing?

Don’t get me wrong, I have spent my fair share of time on the treadmill and I will put clients on it as well but they’re busting their butts. They’re sweating in all sorts of odd places and they’re off that thing in 15 minutes. From the looks of what I saw last night, there was no one grasping for air, there was no one intervaling (probably not a word but I think it should be), there was no intensity. There was calm. Peace. Talking (and probably too much of it).

What gets me is that obviously the majority of gym goers love cardio equipment because it’s safe (you know how it works so no chance of looking like a fool), and it’s easy (doing a 3.5 on a 0 incline for an hour is a walk in the park). If I ever built a gym, I would never put in one treadmill, one elliptical or one recumbent bike in it. If you’re a healthy adult, you should be in that third window using free weights, medicine balls, bosu balls, weighted bars, mats and space (all that space is yours to move around in because you’re the only one using it!) How liberating. And the best part is, you can get your heart rate up even faster than doing ‘cardio’ the traditional way by going non-stop in your routine. Squats to lunges to mountain climbers (don’t get me started) to side skaters to ball slams to high jumps. Rest. Do it again! Rest. Do it again! Cool down and get out, all in less than 30 minutes. (See, this is where the pity comes in because as you’ve just blown through a rigorous workout, your friend on the treadmill has another 15 to 30 minutes of running in place to go before they think they got in a good workout. PLUS, once they’re off their cardio machine of choice, there won’t be much of a post-workout calorie burn going on for long, while the opposite holds true for you. You will be burning calories for the next hour at least!)

I pity the fool.

My point: get more out of your time by spending less of your time on the cardio machines!

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo