Get Thee to a Gym? Perhaps Not!
by Howard McGarity
Copyright 2006 Howard McGarity
So, you have decided that it's finally time to lose
some weight and get in shape.
Congratulations on your determination. Changing
your habits can be a real challenge and it is reasonable to seek
One of the options that many people choose is to
sign up at the gym. This sounds like a good idea but is one that
requires some careful thought.
Although hard to measure, health club industry statistics
predict that fifty percent of people joining a gym will become erratic
users or drop-outs within a couple of months. If you are a beginner,
or not already in the habit of regular exercise, you are quite likely
to be headed for disappointment.
There are several reasons why the gym experience
may not be your best choice:
1. Inflated Promises.
Despite the sales pitch, the majority of glitzy,
chrome and glass establishments are not really committed to help
you get fit. They are set up to sell memberships because that is
where the money is. Profitability actually depends on no-shows because
if every member who enrolled tried to use the facilities, you wouldn't
be able to squeeze them into the building. Once you sign a contract
and they have your credit card number, you are probably on your
2. Will you actually be able to get to the gym regularly?
I've seen it all too often; you work late, traffic
is bad, you have to get home... and shoot, you'll just have to work
out later! Worse still, when you get home, you don't even take a
ten minute walk because.... you're going to the gym tomorrow. Having
a gym membership actually becomes the perfect excuse to do nothing.
3. Beware aerobics classes.
This is especially true if you are older, in poor
shape or seriously overweight. Most aerobics classes specialize
in loud music and fancy footwork. If you are a beginner, forget
it. If you can't keep up, the pep rally mentality and one-size-fits-all
instruction will leave you feeling fat and foolish.
4. What do you do when you don't know what to do?
Many gyms do not have a thorough orientation program
to get you started; nor can you get help when you have questions.
During peak hours, early and late in the day, the staff is usually
overwhelmed. You will be encouraged to get a personal trainer (probably
the best idea... if you can get one with sufficient experience).
But this comes with a hefty price tag and pressure to sign up for
a long-term package deal.
Try this plan instead:
Weight loss is achieved primarily by learning what
and how much to eat (note I didn't use the word "starvation"). Exercise
assists weight loss, improves general health and fosters a positive
attitude that is motivating.
Improvements in both nutrition and physical activity
must be sustained and consistent but can be quite moderate.
Now do five things:
- Spend your money on a meeting with a registered
dietitian who can show you how to eat and will give you guidance
on your eating habits. This knowledge will last you for a lifetime
and puts you miles ahead of all the other "dieters" out there.
- Buy a good pair of walking shoes and an inexpensive
pedometer. Go to the Shape-Up America website at www.shapeup.org/shape/steps
. Also check out www.thewalkingsite.com/10000steps and click on
"beginner". Read the information carefully. There is more here
than meets the eye. Even if you are in decent shape, don't underestimate
the value of walking. Pick up the pace, include some steep hills;
you can get a really good workout.
- Use your day planner or calendar to schedule
your workouts for the week in advance and keep a log of everything
you do. Figure on losing an average of no more than one pound
per week and chart out short and long term goals. Weigh yourself
no more than once a week.
- Get a partner to join you for a regular walk
each week. Better yet, get them to join you on the program and
hold each other accountable.
- When your energy and enthusiasm increases, keep
your mind open to the idea of strength training. This will speed
fat loss and do more to improve your body shape than any other
activity. You can do this at home with almost no equipment. Go
out now and get the book "Getting in Shape" by Anderson, Pearl
and Burke. Shelter Publications 2002. This is a real gem; easy
to read with good basic programs and enough information so you
understand what you are doing.
If you noticed, all of the steps above are pro-active.
You are the one ultimately responsible for taking control of your
life and your health. Even if the guys at the gym could do it for
you, any improvement will be temporary until you accept the challenge
as your own.
Good luck and good health.
Howard McGarity "Coach Mac"
About the Author
Howard McGarity has studied human physical performance
for most of his fifty-five years. He leads a program designed to
help people get off of their wretched diets so that they can get
permanently lean, strong and healthy. For more ideas go to: http://www.DumpYourDiet.com
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