Gyms and Trainers in the New Year
First, I recognize that blogging once a year is a pot/kettle situation relative to my comments below.
Second, there is some sarcasm here and the rest is a little pointed. I recommend if you find yourself offended, stop reading.
It struck me this week that next week is the week that everyone shows up at the gym as part of their New Year's resolution to get in shape, lose weight, etc. As a regular gym-goer I'm always glad when we get past the first couple of weeks of January and 80% of the additional traffic subsides. My suggestion, if you're not going to make it out of January on the road to better health, don't bother with the gym membership - save some money and try something else (fad diet or something).
On that topic, let's talk about fad diets. Here's a question you need to ask yourself before you start any diet program: What happens when I reach my goal weight? The problem I see with most diets (fad or otherwise) is that they don't seem to do much in the way of changing behavior or teaching people how to avoid putting the weight back on. There are dozens of diets out there that will result in weight loss (if followed), but most aren't doing much to help people live a healthier life (minus that 20 pounds) when they are done dieting. Remember, a diet is a means to an end. Fad diets are particularly bad because they focus on getting people to do things they would never do normally in order to get rid of the weight rather than teaching them better habits in the first place.
Back to gym issues. If part of your resolution includes hiring a trainer let me save you some money and frustration. A few important rules in trainer selection:
1. If the trainer you're about to hire doesn't look the way you want to when you're done, don't hire them. Sorry, that's a little rough. If you are hiring an opposite gender trainer this would apply differently. The point is that if the person you're about to hire is either overweight or a current body-builder they probably aren't the right person if you're goals don't include either of those things.
2. If your trainer spends time on the phone during your sessions, shows up late, leaves early, juggles other clients (if that isn't part of the agreed up on arrangement), FIRE them and find someone else.
3. If you tell the trainer your goal is to get in shape and/or lose weight and all they have you doing is strength-training, FIRE them. If those are your goals, in order to be successful you need to be spending about 75% of your time doing cardio of some sort. That's not to say you'll spend that much of your sessions doing that. It does mean that needs to be what they are teaching you as an overall approach along with teaching you how to eat better and avoid un-doing the good you're doing at the gym. Watch The Biggest Loser, notice that the strength-training they do is almost entirely done as a circuit drill - which is really cardio in disguise. To lose weight you have to get your heart rate up and keep it elevated for extended (30+ minutes) periods. It's important to do weight bearing exercise (strength-training) as part of your program, but doing a set and sitting and chatting for 2 minutes isn't going to help you reach your goals.
4. If you are serious about hiring a trainer and I can't talk you out of it, there's only one I'll recommend to you by name upon request. But fair warning, this guy doesn't mess around and he is a Marine.
That's it. That's the sum total of all I'll say for a very long time on this topic. I'm not a trainer. I don't use a trainer. I don't regularly give diet and exercise advise. And I don't do group workouts - got sick of waiting on people and no-shows. So take all this for what it is worth.