Do you need to join a gym to get in shape?

The other day, a friend of mine shared the following article from the New York Times:

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

I firmly believe one of the reasons that races like the Tough Mudder are so popular is community, team, and play aspect of it. Also in searching for a portapotty in the middle of rural New Hampshire. That's fun too...

The article, which is certainly worth the read, highlights the efforts of a New York Times reporter to join a gym and try to “get fit.”

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but she ultimately decides that she doesn’t need a gym to get fit. She gets plenty of exercise from playing pick up basketball.

What is this article basically saying? 

Playing like a kid is good for you.

Absolutely! Get out that whoopie cushion and that fake dog poop and...oh you don't have that in your desk drawer? Oh yeah...uh me neither. Nope, not me. 

Playing like a kid IS good for you. (Whoopie cushion too...) There are many benefits of playing sports as an adult to stay in shape. 

1. You move in different planes of motion

The sagittal plane is where most of us spend our time. We’re walking forward, and in the gym we’re squatting, deadlifting (I hope) and curling in the squat rack. Don’t curl in the squat rack. The frontal plane is moving side to side, a lateral lunge for example, and the transverse plane is rotational movement, such as a golf or a softball swing. 

Very few of us move in different planes of motion as an adult, even that biologically, that’s what we are designed to do. Playing defense in basketball and swinging a racquet or golf club keeps us moving in ways that we are designed to move. 

2. You’ll forget that you’re exercising

Hahahaha...I know what you're thinking. Kim, I forget my name half the time but I could NEVER forget that I'm exercising. But you know what I mean. When the focus is on scoring a bucket instead of watching the minutes drag by on the treadmill the time goes faster. 

Playing volleyball, basketball, racquetball or squash is a great way to think about something else while still getting in a good cardiovascular workout. 

3. It’s fun

Remember fun? I hope you don't just remember fun, but that you've had some today. And yesterday. And every day. 

I make videos on a weekly basis promoting the fun of exercise, but let’s be honest, it’s not fun for everyone. Some people just flat out hate to exercise so turning the workout into a game can make the time go by much faster while also providing a good outlet for stress.  

Dodgeball anyone? 

One caveat

I just wanted to use that word.

I completely agree with the author that there are some fun and creative ways to get a good workout in without dropping 50 bucks a pop on a barre or spin class.** But I believe strength training is essential to any workout routine, especially if you’re a recreational athlete playing tennis or pickleball. 

Strength training is going to help you build more muscle and better bone density and those benefits alone will help you not only perform better in that noon-time pick-up game, but also stay healthy in the process. 

The worst feeling as an adult is when you sprint down the first base line in a beer league softball game only to pull a hamstring. It makes you feel old. Our muscles get more like beef jerky and less like a prime cut of steak as we age (analogy courtesy of Mike Boyle). Our muscles also get short as we age - for example if you sit all of the time, your quad (front of your upper leg) muscles are going to be short while your hamstrings (back of your upper leg) are going to get longer. Those shortened and tight muscles that you didn't have as a 16-year old are going to make it harder to move your joints through a full range of motion.

In other words, blah, blah, blah, beer league softball just broke me. Which brings me to my last point.  

For the love of all things holy, warm up 

Regardless of what you decide to do for a workout, warm up. Please? Please?

At a minimum, do your foam rolling or throw a tiger stick in your gym bag. Doing a couple of arm circles and side bends aren’t sufficient to get your muscles warmed up to go from 0-60 out on the basketball court. 

Just to help you out, here's an introduction to foam rolling.

Thoughts? Questions? Ready to get your own workout program? Comment below or shoot me an email at

Even if it's just to say hi. Or tell me a joke, I love jokes. 

Working with frustration in your fitness journey

Yesterday, in my enthusiasm to help my team win a relay race while teaching a team training class, I launched myself across the finish line at the end of my bear crawl to secure the victory. The minute I did so, I felt a searing pain shoot down my right arm from a shoulder that's been injured since March. 

But my team won. 


I’m not sure exactly what kind of damage I did, but I know two things; you can’t deprogram your competitive nature and it’s really frustrating to deal with the consequences.

A few weeks back, one of our clients who is a former Division I athlete said it best:


“I’m like a lab that just keeps eating socks, no matter how many times I need surgery to get the socks out.”

I see a lot of folks like the two of us battle similar frustrations month in and month out: you get into a workout routine and then someone invites you to play in a teacher/student basketball team and you break your finger. 

So for the next few months you work out around the broken finger only to end up with a bum shoulder. After a few months working around that you end up with pain in your toe. 

The cycle goes on and on.

What's important in the above scenario is that you keep on working out. 

The other kind of frustration I see most from day to day is the folks who are showing up, putting in the work, and not seeing the kind of changes they had hoped to see.

"If I’m going to work this hard and not see any results, then why bother?" 

It’s a fair and valid point. 

And sometimes the last thing you want to hear is, well, you just have to keep on keeping on.

Stay at it!

Stay consistent! It’ll come!

These things are true, but they’re not always what you want to hear. Sometimes what you want to hear is validation of your frustration.

Yes, that sucks. It really does. 

Don’t discount the feeling. Spend some time with how you feel. And, as hard as it is for so many of us, let yourself feel all of the emotions that come with it. Give yourself some time and space to feel it. Grab that medball and do a stress-busting circuit of slams (if you need that workout, let one of us know :-) ).

Talk through it with someone. 

As coaches, that’s what we’re here for. Yes to help you work on technique and form, but most importantly to help you through the hard times. Not seeing results and breaking yourself every time you just have to play an alumni field hockey game is frustrating. We've been there. 

Focus on the process. 

I know, it’s hard. But that quote on our wall when you walk through the door is there for a reason.

1% better. 

Focus on showing up and putting in the work. Focus on family pets and things that bring you joy. Focus on what’s good and if you need help being reminded of what’s good don’t be afraid to ask. 

Frustration is challenging. But we're here to help you negotiate that challenge as best as we can. 

Even if some of you, like myself, just keep on eating those socks :)