The second I purchased my stationary bike and told my family I'd be rather aesthetically questionably placing it in my living room, my father replied, "Oh you can watch TV while you bike." At first, I agreed with him and thought to myself how much more Netflix time I'll get if I combine my workouts and TV time.
But then I realized it wasn't quite that simple. Working out wasn't the same thing as simply scrolling through Instagram, so how could I possibly get in a meaningful workout while watching TV? Clearly, I'm not able to put on my favorite show while streaming an online workout class, but would cycling at home be different? What about lifting weights or completing my own circuit sans trainer? So in the name of journalism, I tried it and after 30 minutes, I promptly turned off my TV and devoted all my attention back to my workout. Here's why.
Concentration makes for a better workout
I don't put the TV on while I work during the day, so why would I do that while I workout? Just as I find it wildly distracting to put on a show while writing, I find it equally hard to concentrate on the circuit or goal at hand while working out if I have a show to keep up with. I lost count of my reps if I was lifting weights or doing core work. If I was cycling, I found my legs slowing down or my RPM going down a notch. Ultimately, my workout became slightly better than me sitting on the couch but not much more!
Form gets lax as you get lazy
In the fitness world, form is everything. It's how you strengthen the proper muscles with lifting, how you get faster with running and cycling, and most importantly, it's how you avoid injury. One night when I was on my bike, as I fell deeper and deeper into the love triangle on my show, I fell less and less out of my proper form. Not only was my calorie burn suffering, but the form that keeps my back and legs supported while I push through was suffering too.
Time goes by too quickly
This may sound like a good thing, and in college when I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical watching reruns of sitcoms, it was. But now that I'm fully devoted to my workouts, I want to feel every minute of work I put in. I don't want 30 minutes to fly by because chances are that means I'm not pushing myself hard enough. In my experience, the workouts that made me stronger and pushed me the furthest were the ones that felt every bit as long as they were. Zoning out to a show means I'm not taking in every minute and pushing each second of the clock to the max.
Workouts should be respected
I always take the time to honor my sport with the best gear. That's why I'm careful to invest in supportive, work-ready trainers like the UA HOVR™ Apex 2 Training Shoes ($140). I realized if I'm watching TV and skimping on my effort, form, and attention, I'm not properly giving respect to my own workout, and thus my own body. I workout to feel strong and keep my heart healthy. If I'm only partially doing that, I'm really only harming myself.
Although I'm sure there's a way to make working out with the television on work for some, it's not a fit for me. So while I appreciate my father's original sentiment, my at-home bike isn't simply another chair, it's a symbol of the work I'm going to proudly put myself through — and not drown out with the noise of Netflix.