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The second crucial component to so many people's New Year's resolutions to lose weight seems to involve running out and getting a gym membership and trainer...stat! We regulars annoyingly anticipate the influx of newbies, as they take our usual machine or place in class, because we know most of them won't make the cut of lasting much past the beginning of February. Come Valentine's Day, the rush dwindles, and it's back to business as usual with maybe one or two new faces hammering away at their "usual" piece of equipment. Why is that?

I think that people hit the gym, because they don't know what else to do. Or, they hire a trainer to educate them on what to do. I think joining a gym is just what you do...right? Like so many things related to diet and exercise, it seems like we have to live in the extremes: tight-bodied or morbidly obese, completely restricted diet or no-holds-barred at the buffet line, fancy gym membership or nothing but the couch. As a former gym rat, having a membership opened my eyes to so many different forms of exercise from kickboxing to step aerobics to circuit weight training and even yoga. Having not been into sports or any physically challenging pursuits for most of my life, the gym got me on track and kept me interested in fitness...for awhile. As life got more hectic (aka having a family, more job responsibilities, a home, etc), the gym became that one-more-thing...that extra stop I had to make, when all I wanted to do was go home. Throw in having a baby and dropping him in childwatch, while I pounded away on the treadmill, an anxiety-riddled mess, and keeping up with my gym membership changed from something I looked forward to to becoming a chore.

I think that is what happens to so many of the avid, post-New Year's gym goers. They took a step that they thought they should without really thinking through the level of commitment that that would take. Then, it just gets to be too hard, which results in quitting...not just the gym but exercising, too. Has this happened to you? What if we considered some other options, instead of running straight for the obvious and, ahem, easy answer? If you have been fumbling around for ways to get some exercise in but haven't successfully gone the gym route, look around you and consider the convenient and, generally, free options that may be available to you:

*office building gym--it may be dated, locatd in the basement, and not overly fancy, but it is probably free and is definitely convenient!
*office building stairs--figure out a routine, using the stairwell like walking up and down 10 times, or taking every other flight in two steps at a time, or adding in run intervals
*bikepaths and sidewalks--are there loops you could create around your very own neighborhood for walking, running, or intervals? Not sure on distances? Use to create circuits in 3- and 5-mile distances. The same strategy works for bike riding, too. As long as the paths are maintained, they can be used year-round!
*library--check-out or request various exercise DVDs to try
*fitness websites--many fitness magazines include exercise routines, which they also post on the web for free! Some of my favorites are Self, Shape, and Fitness, where you can print out or watch various routines
*phone apps--I don't have a lot of experience here, but I have tinkered with some free apps and podcasts for yoga poses
*friends--ask if they walk or participate in running or hiking clubs regularly and see if you could tag along. Also, they may have some ideas on what's worked for them. Of course, they may also have some old workout DVDs and/or equipment that you could borrow, too!

Now, make a plan with your arsenal of options and GET MOVING!

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