Know your gym for a great body
Awareness about fitness has revolutionized the wellness sector in the country today. A gym by the corner has almost become de rigour. But there are pitfalls one must be aware of while trying to achieve that wonderful body, as Anju Munshi finds out.
Everybody wants to look nice with a well-toned body these days. However, men and women who think that the gym by the corner is the best way to achieve that dream body should check out a few facts before taking the plunge, advise experts. Working out is fun provided one is aware of some basic rules .
The body knows best
Hydrate – A common misconception is that sweat is another name for melted fat of the body. It is actually water weight one sheds and it is not healthy. ‘One can’t sweat fat off,’ says Daya Dhingra, a fitness trainer from Delhi. ‘People switch off fans and air conditioners and exercise in a hot environment, thinking that they’re losing fat or weight, but all they’re doing is dehydrating themselves. Besides, sweat loss can result in serious risks – like dehydration, which can further lead to cramps and injuries.
Have a bottle of water on hand at all times and this is much more important than your water output, says the expert.
Resistance training - ‘You might burn 100 calories walking a mile but in the same 20 minutes with a weight machine you may burn 300-400 calories,’ says Dhingra. Resistance training also strengthens the muscles necessary for daily activities like climbing stairs or reaching for groceries, and keep muscles in shape for old age.
There is another misconception that heavy weight lifting or resistance training will cause females to bulk up and have muscles on their upper arms and forearms, looking like Mr. Universe. ‘That doesn’t happen unless you’re doing growth hormones,’ clarifies the fitness expert.
Don’t starve – Exercising on an empty stomach is like driving on an empty fuel tank. Your body needs energy to work with. Small meals like a banana, two biscuits with a cuppa can be digested during the drive/walk to the gym and provide the extra boost you need. This is especially important in the morning, as the body has been fasting overnight, and one needs to give it fuel to get going.
Ask and you shall be given – Most gyms have trainers on the floor and instead of looking around and copying other people, question and ask the trainer. The same goes when you are new to a fitness class; let the instructor know about any injuries or concerns. Your body will thank you.
Most people want to appear knowledgeable and refuse to take the trainer’s assistance; in doing so they are harming themselves in the process of nursing their egos.
Concentrate - Avoid reading books and watching television while doing the work-out. Not only will others resent this but you will also lose your focus from the exercise. Your mind has to be in tune with the body.
Machines to your help
You need to familiarise yourself with the equipment available before starting:
Treadmill: Exercising by walking and gentle running is substituted by a treadmill, the speed of which can be controlled electronically with great accuracy regardless of the user’s weight, providing therapeutic walking as well as intensive performance-related running. The running surfaces are supported on special vibration absorbing elements, which avoid unnecessary strain on the user’s joints and back.
Exercise bikes: Exercise often seems out of reach for people with knee or back injuries. Running, aerobics or even walking can worsen their pain and many people soon give up. Biking, however, can offer these people a low-impact fitness alternative, says Devika Sarin, fitness expert from Kolkata.
Stationary cycles have many other pluses as well. It doesn’t need training and provides great lower body workouts. Stationary cycles generally take up less room than other fitness equipment.
Cross Trainer: This offers a highly effective form of exercise for the entire body as it makes use of all the main groups of muscles and also stimulates the metabolism. The evenly balanced movement strengthens the legs and hips without putting unnecessary strain on the joints.
Step machines: Steppers work out your lower body. You balance on the handlebars, push down with one foot and repeat with the other. The lower levels build aerobic capacity while the higher ones concentrate on building strength.
Rowing: It is one of the most effective types of exercises. It gives the user information on important data such as number and speed of strokes and the pulse rate during exercise.
Are you in the right hands?
Before you step into a gym you need to ask and assess:
1. Does the gym staff have some academic and life-experience education regarding weight training? They should have some sort of certification from a recognized organization.
2. Is the gym clean and is the equipment well maintained? Check the seats on benches and machines and make sure they are stable. Make sure the cables do not appear worn and likely to break.
3. Is the air in a gym fresh and well circulated? It should never smell stale or musty, says Indira Anklesaria, well-known fitness expert from Kolkata.
4. Is the temperature of the gym maintained at a level that prevents possibility of injuries? Too cold temperature makes joint and muscle injuries more likely but too hot can dehydrate the body too.
5. Does the gym have any regularly scheduled follow-up evaluations of your progress? Do they use record cards to monitor your progress? Also, it’s essential to find out if it offers an initial orientation to equipment you don’t know how to use.
6. Does the gym have an emergency medical plan in place and are the staff members trained in CPR and first aid in case someone becomes ill or injured? Doctors and fitness specialists find this factor very important.
7. Do they ask you about back problems and other medical problems?
8. Is the gym supervised at all times?
9. Are you happy with the changing room, its cleanliness and privacy?
10. Do you feel comfortable with the attitude of the staff?
11. Do you think you’re getting value for the money you’re being asked to fork out?
If most of your answers are in the affirmative, consider yourself blessed and join the world of fitness and fun.
Source: Trans World Features