I hate many things about the gym: the cost, having to arrive at ungodly hours to get the equipment I want, the inability to ever get the aforementioned cost removed from my credit card when I want to cancel my membership. Most of all, though, I hate how self-conscious I feel from the moment I step into the gym until the moment I leave.
There are, of course, home weights and/or Peloton. But who do I look like, a rich asshole or something?
What, though, of resistance bands, the colorful, stretchy rubber things you’ve probably seen people stretching with off in the corner of your gym? After all, a set will cost you less than $100, and you never have to leave your house (or put on gym clothes) to use them. Plus, though they excel at stretching, they’re actually extremely versatile, and can (and should) be used for a lot more.
“One of the great advantages of resistance bands is that they can be used by all levels of athletes,” says Jeff Jalaba, a personal trainer in L.A. You might, for instance, use a band with a lower resistance when you’re just starting out, but then “use a more complex band setup or increase the resistance strength if you’re a higher-level athlete,” Jalaba explains.
Not only that, but because they’re just simple rubber bands, they can be reused for a number of exercises. In fact, one band is all you need to work your biceps, triceps, lats, quads, core — you name it. (Better still, they’re as light as a feather, which makes them perfect to travel with.)
Moreover, due to their inherent instability, resistance bands can offer way better feedback and proprioception than even free weights. “When learning to move better and create better muscle tensions, bands allow the body to feel itself in space more,” Jalaba points out.
Just be sure not to take them for granted (that is, not just any old idiot can pick them up and immediately turn into The Rock). “The biggest step is having a trained professional show you how to use the bands in conjunction with your current workout routine and how to progress it,” Jalaba tells me.
In any event, the next time someone casually humblebrags about their $250 gym membership, don’t get jealous — get a set of resistance bands and a potentially better, cheaper and more discreet workout in the process.