Body Weight Exercise, Cross Training, Dumbbells, Exercise, Free Weights, General Health, Gyms, Home Exercise, Machines, Outdoor Exercise

Traditonal or Progression: Which is better?

Traditionally, most people have chosen gyms as their preferred exercise environment. It was expected, it seemed, that the only way to get a good workout was to join a gym and plug away on the treadmill, elliptical, or various machines. Gyms do offer a large variety of machines and dumbbells, but most of their equipment is unnecessary to get a proper workout. Also, who knows just how clean they are?? Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons: boredom, not seeing results from a proper path of progression, or a lack of help from employees, 50% new gym members quit within six months. Whats more, many times the gym continues to charge your credit card and make it close to impossible to stop those charges. What a waste of money!

Excitingly, there is a new movement to take exercise from the gym to the home or outdoors. Increasingly, there is more and more literature explaining the benefits of training at home or outdoors, and how easy it is to piece together a home gym. The popularity of DVDs such as Insanity and P90X are prime examples of this trend. Participating in these DVD workouts challenge your body in new ways, and training from home avoids judgemental points of view towards “nontraditional” exercises. Also, many trainers and even individuals are taking advantage of parks, the beach, and other outdoor spaces to do boot camps, private training, and personal exercise. The best part is it is completely free to use those spaces. The great part of this type of training is that you can get a full workout with dumbbells, body weight exercises, and using the environment around you. Training in this manner, called functional training, allows you to move your body as you would in your everyday life (in all planes of movement), it does not rely on machines (which are not built for all body sizes, force you to work in one plane of movement, and will even do some of the work for you), and it can add much more variety to your workouts. The benefits of outdoor exercise are: a free dose of Vitamin D from the sun, the outdoor stimuli increase endorphin release, the visual stimuli of outdoor exercise makes you work harder but feel that the exercise is easier (decreased Rate of Perceived Exertion), it eliminates boredom, it boosts mood and self-esteem, there is no wait to use any equipment, and you can avoid overcrowded gyms. The biggest downside of training outdoors is the uncertainty of the weather. But I believe if you plan for this variable (have a back-up place to train–possibly at home, have plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen) that negative can be eliminated.

As you have probably already inferred, I believe that moving away from the gym and towards home and outdoor training. I have found that my clients who have trained in gyms actually prefer to train in this manner. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages of taking your workouts from the gym to outside and your home. If “nontraditional” exercise was good enough for the Greeks and Spartans, what were some of fittest cultures in the world, then why would it not be good enough for us today?

Jason is the Owner and Head Trainer at J Nichols Fitness in Charleston, South Carolina. For any other fitness tips or information you can contact Jason at:,,  twitter @jnicholsfitness.

THIS JUST IN!!!! Jason is now providing live feed, streaming online personal training. To book a session with Jason go to

Thanks for reading, J


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