When gyms closed due to COVID-19, it threw gym goers, owners and those employed by gyms for a huge loop. Understandably it affected a lot of people financially, but gym goers were left without barbells, weight and cardio machines and a sense of community also.

And they’re all a great loss, but it got me thinking. Yeah, it happens sometimes. 😊

What if some of these people think exercise starts and stops with the gym?

There’s a train of thought (and I used to think this way too) that all you need to do was to lift weights, eat, sleep, and repeat and all your exercise goals would be taken care of.

However, when the gyms shut with all the barbells and fancy machines behind closed doors, a lot of exercise plans and goals got flushed down the toilet. It’s because of the one way to train mentality. And forget about all those bodyweight and household item trainings, it’s not the same.  

At the gym?
Do You Even Lift?

Here is what some people’s brains had to say on this matter. ‘I’m going to take a few weeks off, rest and raid the fridge until the gym opens again. Those bodyweight trainings are trash.  It’s all good.’

I think their weight scale and they are no longer on speaking terms.

Change Your Perspective

Gyms are great, don’t get me wrong. I have one of my own in my backyard. And it’s a great way to relieve stress, improve your overall health and look better in the mirror.

But if your only form of exercise is lifting and the cardio machines then you’re doing yourself and your body a huge disservice. Because if you didn’t know or you’re too old to remember, there’s a little thing called play.

What Is Play?

Play is an activity done for its own sake, with no real goal in mind and play is often characterized by flexibility (making up stuff as you go along), and the positive effect it often has on the person playing (smiling, laughing, and having fun.) (1)

Remember play now?

What’s Play Got To Do With You?

How does play benefit you now, the adult trying to shed fat and crush your exercise goals?

Firstly, play gives you a welcome break from formal exercise. When you get wrapped up with the gym with all its bells and whistles, other things like moving in different directions and a little thing called non machine cardiovascular exercise gets neglected.

When you’re ‘playing’ you may discover your weaker points that maybe holding you back.

Secondly, it may help you through any exercise plateaus you’re experiencing and improve your coordination.

During childhood, you engaged in locomotor play, which involves physical activity to support the training of your muscles for strength, endurance, and skill. Think of the local school or park playground and all the fun you had on the swings and monkey bars or playing pickup basketball or catch.

Play was the neural and muscular basis of your physical coordination and physical growth. And going back to ‘play’ may help you break through your sticking points and make exercise more enjoyable. (2)

And when exercise outside of the gym is enjoyable, you’re more likely to not sit on your butt.  

But Wait, There’s More

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything you do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, or playing.

When you don’t have time for formal exercise, or you can’t get to the gym, being more active throughout the day will still have an impact on your health and wellbeing.

N.E.A.T  can account for up to 50 % of daily calories burnt in highly active people. To increase your N.E.A.T, find more opportunities to move and include them into your daily routine.

 For example,

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Parking further away from the entrance when you go shopping
  • Doing some house/yard work
  • Playing with your kids
  • Taking the dog for a walk
  • Stretch or do some body weight exercises on the hour, every hour while sitting at your desk.

If you did all of this standing up (instead of sitting down) for an extra 3 hours a day, you could burn over 30,000 calories during a year or 8 pounds of fat.

Combining standing and moving (and playing) more is powerful calorie burning stuff. The chart below will show that NEAT is more important than formal exercise when it comes to fat loss.

Source- Simply Well Coaching.com

  • RMR is the rate at which your body burns energy when it is at complete rest

Calorie burn is more than just the gym. In fact, you are doing yourself and health a disservice if all you do is exercise inside gyms.

Wrapping Up

When something is taken away from us or you like only doing something like exercise one way, it’s time to look at other options and think outside the box. Playing is a great option that’s neglected in today’s world.

I’m going outside to play basketball with my son. He will beat me but at least I’ll reap the benefits of play.

That’s what I tell myself anyway. 😉

If you need getting fit, I have a free program for you right here.

  1. Smith K Peter, BA, PhD, Pellegrini Anthony, PhD Learning Through Play Goldsmiths, University of London, UK University of Minnesota, USA
  2. Byers JA, Walker C. Refining the motor training hypothesis for the evolution of play. American Naturalist 1995;146(1):25-40


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