Muscles without the gym.

Muscles without the gym, just gravity, bodyweight and a park bench.

In an earlier post I summarized the points in an interview of me for, an organization of professionals dedicated to helping us stay a healthy weight. During the interview, I said I believed that we need to make fitness more “democratic” –of the people, by the people, and for the people. In other words: easier to access, more realistic and more practical.

As I had hoped, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and from a wide range of people. There was only one nay-sayer, and honestly, she just misinterpreted what I said! I’m going to share a few snippets with you, from people from Philadelphia to Nairobi.

Excerpts from Colleagues’ Responses
“This is a great read. Fitness does not have to be fancy…” Tatiana Bakaeva, New York Sr. Analyst at Verizon and member of the National Association of Professional Women.

“It’s good to hear such a refreshingly common-sense approach to fitness. Our parks are a fantastic resource which everyone can use to good effect. One of the most powerful aspects of Nancy’s approach is that exercising with a group is much more likely to succeed in getting people to develop and maintain the habit of exercising.” Dave Carse, Director of Marketing at InfoMagic in the United Kingdom.

“I agree. A simple walk in the park with a few strengthening and stretching exercises a few times a week will do the trick for most people. I find it more beneficial especially for beginners and the older generation and those who goal is not to be body builders but to be healthy. Gyms were never needed….” Aaron E. Munson Personal Coach in Philadelphia.

“(Don’t forget) the benefits of parks in: extending life expectancy in people with lower incomes; reducing instances of domestic violence; reducing social isolation and meeting neighbours; building community and feelings of safety and belonging. Also there is strong evidence to relate the colour green with feeling well.”

 David Clayton Recreation and Open Space Planner in Australia.

“Nancy is right, you don’t need an expensive gym membership and a personal trainer to get fit. I think many people are intimidated by the whole gym scene and think that the only way to get quality exercise is at a gym. So instead of doing something, they do nothing… I’m healthy, fit and absolutely despise the gym scene. Great ideas from Nancy!” Janet Bates, Researcher and Writer, Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“Nancy, I like this approach. I have been using it lately to good effect in Nairobi.” Fredrick Odhiambo Fitness consultant, Nairobi.

“If we think about it, each of us already has everything we need to become more physically active and yes, even lose weight. But many think without “fill in the blank here,” supplements, gym membership, spandex outfit, personal coach, diet pills, and on and on, they can’t address fitness or wellness. Really, look how far a pair of walking shoes and a little portion control can go!” Melinda Seifert Owner at LoneStart Wellness, Austin, Texas.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive and Fancy
Making fitness complicated and pricey hasn’t really worked so far, has it? Despite all the advertising and public health initiatives, most adults and kids still aren’t getting enough exercise to be healthy. It’s about time we realized that fitness doesn’t need to be a big deal. A simple walk (or roll) in the park with a few strengthening and stretching exercises a few times a week will do the trick for most people.

It’s actually kind of amazing to me that I am saying this. I spent a period in my life when I was what you could call a “gym rat”—the gym was three blocks from my office, the classes were great, my boyfriend was a body builder. Need I say more? I loved being there, getting stronger, discovering what I could do, pushing myself. I couldn’t understand why EVERYONE wasn’t doing the same thing. Now, I get it.

So, after years of pumping iron, after getting all my certifications in fitness training and a master’s degree in public health, I’m finding that going back to basics is what works best for many people, especially “regular” people. That basing a “workout” on movement that feels more like “play” is the way to go. Talk about going full circle!

What’s your fitness story? Are you at the beginning, middle, or well along the fitness track? Has your attitude about fitness, exercise, and physical ability changed over the years?

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