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I Want to Get Fit but I Don't Want to go to the Gym

29 March, 2016

5 alternatives to reaching your fitness goal without going to a gym!

Going to a gym can be daunting. Getting in and out of the car just to get there can be a workout in itself plus did you ever get the feeling that everyone is looking at you when you go to a gym. I hate that feeling. It’s like I’m not supposed to be there.

Gyms can be intimidating places, especially if you’re not quite comfortable or used to how your new body works post-accident. Even for veterans like myself who have been using a wheelchair for many years’ gyms can be a place where you can feel very different. They are not exactly set up to cater for wheelchairs apart from an accessible toilet and if you’re lucky a hand crank machine to warm up on.

But on the other hand gyms can be wonderful places where you find a strong community of people to support you in reaching your goals, whatever they may be. They can be a place where you find empowerment and you get to experience that infectious feeling of success. I love gyms because they are a place where I can push myself further than what I usually do. In my experience gyms are usually happy places and the staff are always on the better side of positive.

In all the gyms I’ve been to I have only seen very limited numbers of people with a disability attend them. I’m not exactly sure why but the reasons above are probably a good guess, they’re not welcoming places for PwD’s. It’s really surprising to me because as a group the disability community is extensive and a market that gyms really should be targeting because of its size and diversity. I’d be interested to learn about how you feel about gyms and why the numbers are so low.

"I love gyms because they are a place where I can push myself further than what I usually do."

"I prefer small, boutique, local gyms or personal training studios where I get to interact with the trainer on a much more intimate/personal basis..."

Personally I’m not a fan of major gyms. I don’t like being surrounded by that many people. I actually find them hard places to connect with people. In a way I feel lonely and like I’m being watched in these big places. I prefer small, boutique, local gyms or personal training studios where I get to interact with the trainer on a much more intimate/personal basis but also with the community of people that come to the gym. I like the family atmosphere but I also like the idea that I can explore exercise options without being judged or watched. I feel free to get on the floor and roll around or play with balloons and do non-traditional movements that would be weird to do in a regular gym.

I also like gyms where there is lots of space and specialised equipment I can use without feeling like I’m going to fall off it. I hate cluttered gym. In fact I prefer to not use machines at all apart from a cable machine. You’d be surprised at what you can do in a space with very few machines.

Society has been conditioned to think that gyms need to be full of treadmills and machines if they are to be regarded as a good gym. It’s simply untrue and all that ‘stuff’ adds to the intimidation factor for people who use a wheelchair….

So what’s the solution?  We all have a choice in how we deal with our health and fitness so not doing anything because you don’t want to go a gym isn’t really an option, so here are some tips.

  • Workout from home in private.
  • Find a trainer that can send you an online program.
  • Go to a small local gym where they specialise in one on one training.
  • Boxing studios can offer awesome one on one training.
  • Play a sport.
  • Get some friends together and go for a push along the beach paths or around a park.
  • Play with your kids.
  • Get a hand-cycle.
  • Adapt exercises you see on social media designed for people who can walk.
  • Blow up some balloons and keep them in the air. You’ll be surprised at how high your heart rate will increase and the different dimensions your body moves in.

So it really is as simple as making a decision to just do something.

If you have any questions or need some advice on health, fitness or SCI life I’m more than happy to help out. Please contact me via www.pivotalfitness.com.au

"I also like gyms where there is lots of space and specialised equipment I can use without feeling like I’m going to fall off it."

Curtis Palmer is a Paralympian wheelchair rugby player, qualified personal trainer, coach and motivational speaker. He has also been a journalist, TV presenter and authored a book about his life's journey.

Tags: Blog, Health & Wellbeing