I think we’re overcomplicating fitness

The small gym is quiet except for the fan. I can smell a lingering mix of sweat and men’s deodorant, no doubt left by one of my friends in the pre-7AM workout crew.

This gym, which is a perk of my workplace, has floor-to-ceiling mirrors along one long wall, several treadmills that I rarely see anyone use, one elliptical, and a couple stationary bikes. Plus an absurd number of inflated ab balls in varying sizes, a stack of yoga mats, a punching bag, and a mini trampoline. We’re now down to one very sad jump rope because I’ve single-handedly destroyed all the others. (They snap when I’m jumping, sending small plastic tubes through the air like bullets. It’s quite a hazard. I’m developing a reputation for being dangerous.)

And then there’s what I’m here for: The weights. Racks of dumbbells, mainly, and a nice collection of kettle balls. Plus a pull-up bar that I use when I need to blow off steam after a frustrating meeting or email.

I have a lean, uncomplicated approach to fitness, which is why I’m talking about it here

My fitness philosophy is, in a word, simple. I like two things best: weight lifting (which is super low tech), and being outdoors (my favorite is hiking, but trail running is fun, too). And yoga is nice but I’m quite terrible at it.

I share this because have you noticed how complicated fitness has gotten? There’s so much gear and fancy clothing and gadgetry. Not to mention the fads (remember the days of TaeBo and Denise Austin? RIP because they’ve been replaced by Tabata, Hiit and Crossfit.)

We spend a lot of money on memberships, programs, supplements, and equipment. As someone who’s been generally fit my entire adulthood, the secret to my success has nothing to do with programs or gadgets and everything to do with this: Discipline. And guess what makes discipline easier? Simplicity. You could call it a “minimalist” approach to fitness, and it works.

For example, here’s the routine I did last Thursday:

3 sets each of pull-ups, bicep curls, tricep extensions, dips, and shoulder lateral raises, followed by a quick 15-minute run outside because I was craving a wake-up from the cool morning air. The whole workout took 30 minutes. Then later in the evening I enjoyed a nice hour-long walk with my friend and neighbor. Easy peasy.

Reader, I don’t know you—not yet, anyway–but I can say that if you’re struggling with fitness (can’t stay consistent, constantly feel guilty for missing workouts, despise sweating and breathing heavy from the bottom of your heart), perhaps you’re overcomplicating it. I get it—there’s a lot of pressure to make fitness complex and overwhelming. Let’s stop doing that. Let’s work together to make things simpler for discipline, and thus doable.

Here’s a step we can take right now: Get outside for a walk. I don’t care how long of a walk it is–wear flip flops if you want. Just walk.

Would you like to see regular simple workout ideas here?

Share your vote in the comment section or tag me on Instagram (@stephaniehillberry).

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