Archive for the ‘Fitness Fan Club’ Category

One of the pleasant surprises of the 14 months I spent with a trainer was how much I loved lifting weights. I even grew to love the tortuous squat routines from hell and the Ball of Death. Actually I’m lying about the last one. But I still had questions. How long should I train? How often should I train? How much weight? How could I survive without a personal trainer? Read the rest of this entry »

OK, so the first bump in the long and winding road of my new-and-improved-energized exercise plan is, my membership at the Big Box Gym (BBG) has been terminated, unbeknownst to me and without my consent. Yes, sports fans. Since November, 2009. WTF? I thought I’d been paying all this time. True, since I was training elsewhere, I didn’t actually ever set foot in the BBG, and most likely the term of my credit card expired, but that seems like a small detail, and couldn’t they have dropped a line? They claimed they sent me Read the rest of this entry »

 In a previous post I revealed the tortured and half assed way I ended up in the gym I did. Puff has clocked in with what she would look for in  a gym.  Based on FFF Friends comments to that scintillating post, either  most of our dear readers just go someplace or they don’t plan to ever set foot in a gym so they could care less about this topic, perhaps they just dont want to obsess. As that is not the Huff and Puff M.O. , we’re just not through talking about it.

 So, in the category of things I wish I’d known before I selected a gym:

 * Yes you lose fat and gain muscle, but the actual weight loss is not so great. In fact, many people gain weight. This is ok as long as you are not at the body fat percentage that I was experiencing.

* Training is training, just show up and do it.  If the trainers are certified, they pretty much know what they are doing and they really don’t want to hold your hand or be your friend.  And  monitoring your body composition is really beside the point for them, so don’t be so goal oriented. 

* And further on that goal oriented thing, progress is going to be rather slow, so don’t do it for vanity reasons, do it for fitness enhancement and  psychologically adopt a longer time horizon. It’s the journey, ma’am.

* Weight training is really only one piece of the puzzle. A serious commitment to cardio activities and sensible eating is also mandatory for significant results.

In my little banana republic, I would like to find a personal trainer and facility that pretty much specializes in my category of human being: middle aged, possibly hormone embalanced, shot metabolism, sedentary, over fat, insecure about ability to perform,  but very enthusiastic about becoming significantly more fit  and willing to commit significant resources with the right trainer.  Does it sound like I’m talking about a residential fat farm or are there specialized training studios, or gyms or salons or whatever the description du jour is?  Am I asking too much? And, I’m discovering that I really do best when there is a sense of community present, manifested by their cherry greetings and atta girls when I show up.  

Here are some questions I would now ask beforehand:

*What age group and sex is represented in your  studio?  When you’re selecting a gym to meet guys that’s one thing,  when one is uncomfortable about one’s  pitiful fitness level, the last thing you want is to be in a small gym with a bunch of muscle men where they can be in ear and eye shot of the  weight scale  and BMI machine that’s in the room. Alternate question: Do you have any experience with my age and body type?

*What are the special challenges you see in training someone in my circumstance (see above)?

*What does a trainer look for in a client before s/he takes one on and what is expected of moi?

*What should I, as a client, be able to expect from the gym and the trainer in terms of interaction, coaching, etc?

*What special diet considerations, if any necessary to pursue during a strenuous program?

*Is it possibly better to diet off some excess weight first and then train?

*How often will my body composition be evaluated?

 *How long is this phase of my training going to last?   What is the expected period of time that I should continue with personal training before I join a group fitness class? Is there a time past which I’ve built the muscle mass I’m supposed to and could move to a maintenance schedule or join a group fitness class?

 *Do you offer any auxiliary services, e.g. food program,   educational resources, other opportunities such as  group fitness classes ?

Whew! that’s it! I’m evaluating my own gym in terms of these criteria. Stay tuned.

image002This particular celebration is 42 years old.  The Earth (just like us) just keeps rolling along. At the time of the establishment of Earth Day, the fear was we were about to enter an Ice Age. OK, so they got the climate change concept, but now we’re talking about Global Warming. Can you people please get your stories straight?? You scientists are supposed to know what is going on.

Here is a short article about celebrating Earth Day through “earth friendly” exercise routines, equipment, and yes, even gym facilities.

Enjoy! Earth, we salute you!

http://www.oprah.com/world/Environmentally-Friendly-Exercise-Tips

Choosing a GymWell, Huff, you know that I took my cue from you.  I figured that if you were going to be brave and step into the abyss, the least I could do is bring up the rear, so to speak.  When I embarked on this adventure, I knew that I would not (could not, will not, ever) go back to the BBG.  I’ve paid for several of those memberships in my lifetime, and don’t think I’ve ever lasted more than a month before losing faith/interest/nerve.  So, knowing that I needed a different experience and knowing that I am a world class procrastinator, I thought it best to commit to a trainer who would hold me accountable. 

I looked on the internet and in the local healthy news mag and found 4 or 5 trainers that looked promising.  I called and emailed them all and immediately weeded out 2:  one was a jerk and the other never returned my call or email.  Number 3 was the frontrunner as her private gym was literally steps from my office.  When I met with her and her Amazing Body, she was dismissive, didn’t listen to a word I said, and insisted that I would do just fine in her intense bridal boot camp group workout — without any assessment of my health whatsoever.  Number 4 was a good choice, and she is in-home only, which is very attractive.  Unfortunately, she didn’t give good phone and was concerned about how far my house was from hers.  Number 5 was Andrew Fodge (Fitness by Andrew), and he was not only professional and courteous, but he was also knowledgeable and experienced.   We have a lot of laughs but he also works me very hard (ouch ouch ouch) which is exactly why I hired him in the first place.  

I like being in a private gym, mainly because it’s small and it’s not populated by the under 30 crowd cruising for potential mates.  For the most part, the people at my gym are between 35-65 and are there to work out because they are all with trainers.  There’s not much hanging out and chatting … well, not TOO much and certainly not by me!

And yes, there are things I would change — namely MUSIC.  They always have 2 tvs and a boom box blaring, which is not motivating — it’s highly annoying.  I would love to hear consistent subscription radio (no ads on Sirius!) with an energetic beat —  no gangsta rap or thrash metal screamers, please.  And lose the tvs — we need to focus on destressing and moving our bodies, not on defending against aural onslaughts.

The most important thing is — do you like it there?  If you like your gym and trainer, you’re much more likely to keep on going, so yes, it’s important.

Keep working on your health ~ Puff


Last year, when I realized I was going to croak at my work desk if I didn’t get off my duff and start moving, I considered my options.  Let’s see –  already done every diet known to woman kind… I had and still have a membership to one of the national , what I call ‘big box’ gyms (BBG). In fits and spurts, I used it. Periodically, I would also walk along one of our major canals , or walk on the weekends with friends. In the gym, I would do the treadmill, use some of the weight machines, maybe try a water aerobics class. It was comfortable, I felt safe there, but it the whole routine was totally ineffective. The BBGs have ‘trainers’, but frankly the trainers at my BBG were not very friendly. They were supposed to give me an orientation on the weight machines, but I made three appointments which they broke serially because 1)they lost my original appointment altogether, 2) didn’t show up at the appointed time and 3)spent my appointment time flirting with another female. Seemed like they really weren’t too interested in my orientation so I just gave up on that.

 All I knew, was I wanted to try a new strategy. Dieting and these half assed self designed “training” sessions were just not cutting it.  I needed some serious help.

 One day, I was leafing through the neighborhood newspaper in my junk mail pile when I saw an advert for a personal training and fitness gym in my area. I found the ad visually arresting.  It offered a 90 day program – “strength,  core and conditioning”. What really caught my eye was that the ad featured a silhouette of a lumpy woman at the front end of the ad, transformed into the silhouette of a more shapely woman at the back end of the ad, signifying that the 90 day program would be physically transformative. I thought, well, I can do anything for 90 days, and while I knew it would take more than 90 days to transform my body, the ad just somehow made the whole thing  seem doable. And clearly, the gym knew my body type.

 I was way too chicken to go on my own, but fortunately I found a friend who wanted to start a program, and we faced the prospect of checking out the gym and its services together. Neither of us had a clue as to what to look for in a gym.  Armed with the advert,  we met with the owner. As an added bonus, the place was in the shadow of a Trauma III medical center, just in case. He seemed like he knew what he was doing, he was willing to sign us up, and so we paid. He explained why we shouldn’t diet while training, how to eat on a schedule with the larger meals in the morning, and to write everything we ate in a log.  Then, he weighed and  measured us right there in the open, with buff gym goers milling around. [That was probably the single most humiliating experience I have had since I got drunk at a frat party and barfed all over my date, 40+ years ago, but I digress].

That is it, that’s how I selected the gym – can you believe it? Basically,  on a whim and an advertisement in a neighborhood free newsletter.

 I’ve been working with this gym for one year and by and large  it’s been a  very positive experience. I’m much more knowledgable about what these gyms are about and I’m certainly more fit . But, would I have made the same choice  again? What do I know now that would have been helpful then? What should a middle aged, overweight, under fit and clueless female be able to expect from a gym?  Dear readers, what are your thoughts on this? How did YOU select your gym??? 


Mini MealUh oh.  Andrew is not going to approve of this news.  The training profession has long held that 5 or 6 mini meals per day will “stoke the fire” and keep our metabolic engines purring.  While the mini meal may stave off rampant hunger binges, it doesn’t appear to have any effect on metabolism — at least according to this article. Read the rest of this entry »

I keep coming across this concept of ‘interval training’ in the exercise literature, in the fitness magazines, in the newspaper. Both my personal trainer and my group training classes for that matter incorporate this notion of interspersing bouts of slower activity with bouts of high intensity effort. For example, the trainer will have us spin at a steady pace and then announce an all out sprint for 10-15 seconds. Or we’ll be doing power jacks for what seems like an eternity but are more like 90 seconds, and then he announces that we should go as fast as we can for a short period of time. The heart rate increases, it’s harder to breathe, etc. And the trainer is keeping track of the time. Read the rest of this entry »

As I mentioned last time, I am in a bit of a fitness slump and I’m thinking of ways to get myself out of it, and jumpstarted back into my training and exercise routines.  I am an unrepentant devotee of Richard Simmons exercise tapes.  I have two current favs: Broadway Sweat and Latin Blast-off, the latter of which takes place in a ‘cantina’  and all dancers are in costume – Ole!  I do love them, but I think my body has gotten used to them, so I’m not sure they are as effective as they once were  So, how can I get some variety in my exercise video collection and jumpstart myself to a new level of toned fitness?
Read the rest of this entry »

Go here for inspiration or depression — you decide:  http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/over40t.htm
 
Who are these people?  Note that they all consistently eat like horses 5-6 times a day and drink 1-1.5 gal of water.

And they look amazing.  I am not sure that I completely understand the forces at work here.

On the path to wellness ~ Puff