Joining a gym is a great way to improve fitness and lose weight. But we think resolving to ride your bike could be a far more attractive idea. Here’s why….
Goodbye fees, hello fitness for free
The average UK gym-goer spends £32 each month on membership. That’s an incredible £384 a year. However, with a bicycle you’ve got unlimited fitness potential just waiting to be used — available any time, any day of the year — absolutely for free. OK, we realise there are a few other costs involved, such as buying a lock, lights, helmet, suitable clothes, some basic tools and spare parts. We know that if you’re starting from scratch then getting all that and a new bike for £384 might be a bit of a stretch but you’ll be using the bike for a lot more than a year and it’s definitely doable for around £500.
Fresh air, not stuffy sweatsville
You know that fresh air is free, as well? So why pay to exercise in a closed, unnatural environment? It’s quite ironic to hear ardent gym goers talk about how careful they are choosing what to eat and drink. Yet they’re happy to puff and pant within feet of other folk, who are — there’s no nice way to put this — expelling bodily fluids into the surrounding environment like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, going for a group ride with other sweaty cyclists is great fun, but at least the fresh air helps blow the perspiration away. Oh, and for people who say it’s no fun breathing city air when you’re in the saddle, even from central London you can be riding around in true country air within an hour.
Say hello to the world, don’t hide in your own head
When we think of the typical gym member, we think of somebody carrying a water bottle, mobile phone and a set of headphones. Despite the public, communal nature of gyms, it often seems that people go there to block themselves off from everybody else. That’s OK of course but on a bike you can keep yourself to yourself or you can also choose to say hi to people as you pass. Interaction with the rest of the human race really isn’t such a bad thing — in fact, quite often it brightens everyone’s day. Trying to be the life and soul of the gym may on the other hand earn you an unwelcome reputation.
Fitness and commuting can be one and the same
Joining a gym is seen as being the most efficient way to get your exercise hit in. All the machines you could ever need are there, and there are extra classes, too. But what if the machine you want is being used? And the class you’d like to take, is on a day you normally work late? And however you look at it, the gym isn’t at home, so at the very least you’ll have to make some effort just to get there in the first place. Not so cycling. Ride to work and back and build your fitness routine into your daily commute. Imagine that: getting home quicker than if you’d taken the car or public transport to work, and getting your daily fitness session done, too.
A little bit of fashion, and a whole lot of function
Moving on from the perfect practicalities of cycling for fitness, what about the clothes you wear? Lycra shorts and jerseys might be very bike-specific — and we thoroughly recommend you wear them for specific types of riding — but there are other bits of bike kit that can double up with daily life. Baggy cycling shorts can be worn off the bike almost any time, and don’t forget your casual winter cycling jacket — the amount of times we’ve used that on Guy Fawkes night, or walks in the woods, or to wear while watching sports events. Gym clothes often don’t have quite the same universal applications.
Every day’s a little different
You might see a few of the same faces if you ride in the same area, but every trip on your bike tends to become a new adventure. One day it might be raining. One day it might be sunny. One day there might be roadworks and you’ll end up exploring a new route. One day you’ll argue with a taxi driver. One day you’ll see a poster for a concert or an event you’d like to go to. One day you’ll see a ‘for sale’ sign and you end up moving house. One day you’ll cycle past an attractive person who stops to ask directions, you get chatting, exchange numbers and they become your partner for life. OK, maybe not all those things will necessarily happen, but we guarantee your bike-based exercising regime will inspire you to think a lot more about life in general than seeing the same four walls in the gym.
Obviously, not all gyms (or gym-goers) are the same and finding the motivation to go out riding in a blizzard won’t always come naturally. Furthermore using the gym for specific training sessions, such as spinning classes, core strength exercise or even yoga can go perfectly hand in hand with cycling. Still, in our (slightly biased) opinion, cycling is more fun and with 2019 just around the corner, we think it’s the perfect time to ditch the gym membership in favour of regular bike riding (if you’re not already a devotee)…