I Need to Lose Some Weight Before I Go to the Gym

“I need to lose some weight before I go to the gym.” While I’m sure at least some of you will find this to be an odd statement, it’s one, we as personal trainers hear more often than you might think. What this statement tells me is that the individual is very self-conscious and afraid of being embarrassed and/or judged at the gym.

My advice to anyone that feels this way, is to find the right gym for them, one that won’t make them feel self-conscious or embarrassed (or, at least less so). If you look at many gym commercials, everyone looks fit, healthy, attractive, and so damn happy to be there that you can’t imagine yourself in that situation. designWell, commercials aren’t reality. Visit various gyms and studios at times that you would be able to go and just look around. What is the staff like? What kinds of members or students are there? Are there others like you? Is it too crowded? What’s the atmosphere of the facility? If none of it feels right, keep looking. Different facilities can have very different feelings. But, knowing that you will probably feel a little intimidated no matter where you go, if you find one that is “not so bad”, join it, or at least set up a trial period. It won’t be as bad as you imagine it.

But, what’s so wrong with losing weight first? Honestly, if I believed you would, I’d say, “Go for it!” However, I have never known anyone that worked out for. They don’t join, try a number of diets, maybe a little exercise on their own, or maybe they just don’t get around to it, but ultimately they don’t lose the weight and never make their way to the gym (and never reach their goals). Part of this failure is the lack of accountability, nobody to keep them in check and part of it is not really knowing what they should be doing for diet or exercise.

Because it is so difficult to succeed at home on your own, I not only recommend finding the most comfortable gym or studio that you can, but you should also get at least some professional guidance. This could come in the form of personal training, small group training, group fitness classes, nutritional coaching, and/or special programs offered that fits your needs.

Give yourself the best chance at succeeding by finding a facility that feels right and offers what you need.

Maybe in a later post I’ll address the statement, “I’m too stressed out to meditate.”

Will Working Out Fix My Back? (Shoulder? Hip?) 

I know a lot of personal trainers that will claim that they can fix your problem(s). Can they? Well, it depends on the personal trainer, your individual issue(s), and what is meant by “fixing” it.

pain

Let me start this discussion with a confession. Most people wouldn’t know this, but, I’m in physical pain, every day, and have been for years. It’s not overwhelming, but it is annoying. I have spinal stenosis that creates a radiating nerve pain down my right leg. I have a torn meniscus in my left knee. I have arthritis in both of my thumbs which make gripping things painful. I had a complete shoulder replacement about five years ago (Although, this is no longer a source of pain. My shoulder feels great these days.). And then there are the day to day aches and pains that we all deal with as we get older. Yet, in spite of all this, I teach group fitness, lift weights, and do pretty much anything I want. My, “issues” do not limit my activity. This is because I work out regularly and consistently challenge myself. Am I “fixed”? No, but I am soooo much better than I would be if I wasn’t working out.

That’s my story, but could it fix other issues? Well, it’s not going to get rid of arthritis (but, it can increase your ability to do what you want and it can diminish the sense of pain.) It’s not going to reattach torn ligaments (but, it can strengthen the muscles surrounding the area and may allow you to continue activity without surgery [always check with your doctor]). That said, if you are having back pain because of weak core muscles and poor posture, yes, the right workout with a qualified personal trainer can correct this condition. If you are having pain that is determined to stem from improper gait or movement patterns, yes, these can be corrected and alleviate the pain.

So, yes, working out can “fix” some problems and can make the best of others. The key is to check with your doctor and with his/her approval, find the right personal trainer to work with and you can be on the road to a better quality of life.

Old Dogs SHOULD Learn New Tricks

Maybe you have your workout routine down. You’ve been doing it for years and it seems to be working fine. Maybe you’d like to be a little leaner or have a little more muscle, but, for “your age” you feel okay about where you are. I hear that fairly frequently, “I’m doing okay, getting my workouts in.” My reply is always, “Are you where you hoped you’d be?” The answer is usually, “No.”

skateboarding-dogOne of the major problems with doing the same thing that you’ve always done is that it might not be applicable any more. Maybe it’s outdated because more research has come out in exercise science to show that what we used to believe, no longer holds true. i.e. we used to believe that weight machines were the best way to train and gyms packed machines in every square inch. Now we know that training movements with body weight/free weights, where we have to balance and stabilize, offer more benefit in sports and everyday function.

Another reason your program might be outdated is that our needs change through the years and our current needs may be different for those we had years back. While you may have been focused on just being lean and mean in the past, now, you may have much more specific goals, such as trying to better your balance, mobility, and stamina.

In continually doing the same program, we also limit the benefits we could be receiving. By varying our exercises, exercise volume, intensities, repetitions, rest periods, etc. we get greater and better rounded results. A structured, regular change in these variables is called periodization.

Finally, change, in this case learning new physical programs and movements, has brain health benefits. As we are taught a new movement, we both have to understand what it is and we have to get our body to move in that new way. Two of the pillars of brain maintenance are mental stimulation and physical exercise.

So, in spite of feeling “fine” about your routine, it’s probably time to reassess. The benefits of having a new program with new challenges can make a huge difference in the results you get. You’re never too old to learn a few new tricks.