Friday, December 21, 2007

how to choose a gym...

The workout and weight loss journey could really feel like a lonely one. It’s as if all of a sudden when walking into a gym all eyes are on you. There are many emotions and possibilities attached to any visit to any new gym - kind of like the first day of school but worse! Actually it IS worse…’s like being picked last in grade 5 gym class even though all along you would have much rather volunteered to clean toilets and scrub floors during that period to avoid the humiliation.

Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is uncomfortable enough. Throw in that mix the confusion of how to go about it in a foreign environment displaying many different apparatus resembling a scene out of a science fiction flick and it is downright discouraging! A good idea first before joining a gym (or choosing a trainer) is to take a tour of the facility at the same time of day which you would be working out in that facility. This will give you an idea of how crowded or not the gym is at that time and also will give you an opportunity to feel the vibe of the people (members and staff) with which you will be intimately sharing this space.

Other tips to consider before signing that contract:

-Call the gym first and ask for directions. How does the staff member answer the phone? Is there parking available or easy access by transit?
-What does the facility offer inclusive of your membership? Are there any classes which pique your interest? Are they extra cost? Do you even want to participate in classes or are you more a soldier who wants to go solo?
-Does your membership include: towel service, a locker, a fitness consultation with a trainer, buddy passes to bring your friend for a free visit?
-Are there any trainers working at the gym and is this a service that you are or could be interested in?
-Are there spray bottles with a disinfectant supplied throughout the gym so that the machines could be wiped of sweat after use? Are people using them!?
-Is there a comment box visible for complaints or suggestions? How are these comments dealt with and by whom?
-How interested or involved is the gym in your progress? Are there signs posted advertising seminars, food tips or motivational sayings? Are these postings updated?
-Are there any pieces of equipment with an ’out of order’ sign on it/them? Does the sign obviously appear to have been hanging there a really long time?
-Is the change room clean? Is this a space you would feel comfortable exposing your skin? Check the showers, is there soap grime, is there soap? Are there toiletries offered, is this important to you? Are there enough lockers to supply all the members of your gender at peak time?
-Is the person giving you the tour generous with their information and time?
-How long has the gym been in business? Who owns the gym? Private or Franchise?
-What are the payment options? Usually paying in full sum for the year will save you some money but do you feel more comfortable paying monthly in case of bankruptcy or foreclosure?
-What is the cancellation policy in case you move away or become ill?
-Is there an option to freeze the membership? How many times and for how long? Freezing a membership most of the time means that payment will still come out of your account as scheduled but the additional months will be added on at the end of the term. Be clear about this when you inquire.

At some point during your tour or after your tour, steal aside a moment to engage with an existing member to ask them out their experience at that gym. This could be casually done in the change room or washroom. Just make sure they are not a staff member and most people will be completely honest. If they are not happy with anything about the facility and are only there because they are stuck, they will gladly discourage you from making the same mistake!

Over the years, the gym industry has developed a bad reputation for pushing contracts too aggressively. Contracts are a reality when signing up for a gym in fact, if you are not presented with a pretty thorough contract then run! There is a reason for rules and regulations and it could be wrapped up in one word - liability! You want to be a part of a gym which takes liability seriously because it is serious business. Remember, you have rights as a consumer and before signing that contract find out how many days grace period you have to back out if you experience consumer remorse. I know in Ontario, Canada you have 10 days.

Shopping for a gym is the worst of it. After what seems like hard work in finding the right one for you, the rest should be gravy….low-fat of course!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Feet glide‘n, slip slide‘n,
Bag is swing’n , tupac is sing’n

‘me against tha world’

Tippity tap, smack, slap
Leather on leather, noth’n sounds better
Music to my ears - relinquish all fears
this is a time to be, free from reality
this is the place to see, dreams realized frequently

Just leave me be
the bag and me - together we create a harmony

Switch my stance, enhance my chance
to land that blow, replay in slow mo…tion

From toe to hip to shoulder then go - in for the kill
that will inevitably thrill....... and end the show!

More is Better?

Have you ever stopped to consider what exactly is the purpose of your fitness routine? Or, for what purpose would you have to start one? Much of the time there is an external reason or an indirect motivational force such as fitting into a certain article of clothing, to turn heads at an upcoming function or because your doctor had that concerned look on his/her face while poking and prodding you during your last visit. Sound familiar?

Then comes the decision to do something about ‘it’. At some point, exercise enters into the equation as a means to reach that goal and so it seems that if some exercise is good for you than how about more and more and more for better results?

Exercise is a stress on the body, albeit a good stress nonetheless too much of a good thing could become toxic. Just like overexposure to the sun will burn you, so will overexposure to exercise.
The human body only has so much recovery ability and any amount of exercise performed is a negative factor into it’s reserves. In order to stimulate change so that the body is forced to adapt so that it could take on new shape so that you could fit into that piece of clothing, then the exercise must be carefully prescribed on an individual basis in order to prevent burnout. In an over-trained state, your muscles will atrophy or become weaker from overuse and this is a big waste of time!

A reasonable means of measure is strength. Strength is the basis of how much you are progressing assuming that the purpose of your visits to the gym is to become stronger.

**Remember - Strength = Muscle= Higher Metabolism= Fat Burning**

Demonstrating strength is not only about a spontaneous bicep curl with your grocery bags but also a stronger heart which will improve your cardiovascular system, reduce high blood pressure, etc…What this means is that it would be wise to follow a program which could dictate at what point it is that you are regressing in strength.

A great many of us follow a calendar in order that we stay on track. January means resolutions, April showers bring May flowers, September is back-to-school and December signifies Holidays and over-eating. Within the months of the yearly calendar, we further break down our lives into weeks and days and hours - since we are paid by the hour on a weekly basis then it only makes sense to fit our workout routine into that formula. However this is by no means organic or holistic considering that the as resilient as the human body is, there is no forcing results on the body. The body has it’s own clock and it’s own agenda, so the next time you consider visiting the gym just because it is Wednesday and the program you are following requires a Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday weight-training session with a Tuesday/Thursday cardio-session for 1hour each session, consider this: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

Working out does not have to be fun, in fact, if you are performing your exercises with the proper intensity then it should be somewhat of a daunting and painful task but it does not have to be gruelling and exhausting. Actually, you may even be surprised at the tolerance your body will develop and it will actually begin to crave that pump. The biggest mistake made however is a trainee literally dragging an already depleted physique to the gym with literally no gas in the tank and exposing it to further stress and demand (the workout) with an expectation of it to perform more and better than it did yesterday when it was just as tired and exhausted so that it could look really good in that cocktail dress next week!

Instead, visit the gym with motivation, excitement and intention, and not just because it is Monday.