Are You A Tortoise Or A Hare?

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Since I was working at a private gym in past years, this was my first January experience in a real gym. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect with all the tales out there of people everywhere, long waits, packed like sardines. I’m still a bit intimidated at times in crowded gyms. More now because it’s change than actual worry that I won’t know what to do if my dumbbells are being used.

I was surprised though that the gym seemed no more crowded than usual. I kept waiting for the masses to arrive but thankfully it was pretty non-eventful. I finally figured out where everyone was though. I took a peek into the cardio rooms and holy cow! One class had people doubled up on the aerobic steps – one on each end and then switch places for the other side. There were tickets being given out for spin classes. I also noticed that the ab and cardio machines were getting some pretty heavy use.

Cardio is an important part of a fitness program, but you should approach it with your goals in mind to make the most of your time. Have you ever noticed the difference between a sprinter’s body and a marathon runner’s body? Both may be in top athletic form, but their body types are usually completely different. The sprinter typically has more muscle mass while the marathoner is smaller and more compact.

You’ll see other differences like this throughout sports – quarterback vs lineman in football, basketball player vs football player. Your body is designed to adapt to the every day activities you put it through, and it adjusts in size and shape depending on what it needs to do. We usually have a body type in mind for ourselves when we set health goals. It’s about personal preference and there is no one right body type. It boils down to how you want to look.

It’s important that your workout program matches the end result that you want to attain, otherwise you’ll be working towards something that may never happen. Explosive power and speed requires more muscle mass than long steady paced work. There are genetic exceptions to every rule, but most times you won’t find someone who runs marathons that has large quads and glutes.

Here are some things to keep in mind when picking a cardio machine or workout type so you can work towards your goal:

Cardio Cheatsheet

Because I’m trying to build muscle, most of the cardio that I do is short and intense. Typically I choose plyometrics or sprints with the hopes that someday my lower half will be able to sprint with explosive power. Fingers crossed, but I think I may always be the tortoise wanting to be a hare. 😉

Are there huge crowds at your gym this month or is it business as usual outside the cardio rooms?


  1. I used to only fit the long distance runner (slim down) side. Now I’m close to a 50-50 split of the 2 sides. I think with age I’ve had to change my training style.

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