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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Think of exercise as the reward, not the punishment

Joe Marchilena

The assisted chin-up and dips always get me for some reason.

The two exercises are part of my current workout, paired with a backward lunge, as the third of four circuits, and no matter how I’m feeling when I get to them, they always kick my backside. ...

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The assisted chin-up and dips always get me for some reason.

The two exercises are part of my current workout, paired with a backward lunge, as the third of four circuits, and no matter how I’m feeling when I get to them, they always kick my backside.

It was no different this week, when I was able to return to Hampshire Hills after a little time off, but I also didn’t do myself any favors.

I set up the machine, reached up for the bar and pulled myself up once. “This doesn’t feel right,” I thought, and hoped off to check the weight. It was right – or what I thought was right – and I got back on and kept going. Did two sets of chin-ups and two sets of dips, wrapped around the lunges, and grabbed my sheet to record the workout.

And that’s when I realized I’d set the weight wrong, 20 pounds wrong to be exact. Oops.

While I got water, and laughed at myself, Shelby Young, one of the personal trainers, asked me what was up. I explained, and in a moment of positive thinking, added “Hey, at least I did it.”

“Nice,” Young said, “but let’s see how you feel tomorrow.”

The thought made me groan because he was right. My arms are going to feel like I did something wrong and someone was punishing me.

Of course, I imagine that’s how a lot of people look at exercising, as a form of punishment. Some probably see that punishment as a necessary evil; others likely reward themselves afterward with things that just cancel out all the work they just did. That seems more like punishment, if you think about it.

Going to the gym shouldn’t be viewed as a form of punishment, but rather your reward. Where else are you allowed to get sweaty and not have people look at you weird? Where else can you let out your frustrations in a physical and productive way?

Not getting the exercise you need is really the punishment.

Sure, you might have aches and pains from working out, but is the increased potential for heart disease and depression a good trade off? I would say no, and I hope you do, too.

The best thing to do is find a routine that you can realistically stick to. If you say you’re going to exercise three days a week at 6 a.m., but you’re not a morning person, that’s not realistic.

If you’re lucky, you can likely keep the same routine for months at a time. If you’re like me, you’re routine needs to change somewhat frequently, but that can be OK, too. It can get boring doing the same thing over and over again for a long period of time.

Actually, that sounds a lot like punishment, and that’s not what exercising should feel like.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. For more information about “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 673-7123 or e-mail hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.