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Gyms are intimidating to seniors - prove you belong


Gyms are intimidating to seniors - prove you belong

As I write this, my wife, Linda, and I are spending the winter in South Carolina as I approach my 74th birthday. Our permanent home is in the North Country of New Hampshire, but it is too damn cold to stay there. I am a former Research Engineer, Police Lieutenant/Investigator and present Health Coach/Personal Trainer. My background is diverse, and my professional and life experience will be combined into all of my blog posts. While avoiding purposely offending anyone, I will be direct.

We joined a gym down here upon arrival and go there most days of the week. Monday was Martin Luther King day, and our gym was mobbed. The place is huge, but I could hardly move in there without getting bumped. I have worked in health clubs for the past 25 years, and it often occurs to me that many of these people, a large portion of which are seniors, don't belong here. Not yet.

Don't get me wrong, besides being a Health Coach/Personal Trainer, I am a dedicated gym rat. My point is that most of these new members will fail, never to be seen there again. That is tragic. Gym owners and staff will dislike what I have to say, but it needs to be said.

I will state emphatically, that virtually everybody needs a gym, particularly older folks. But most gyms focus on the bottom line, money, not results. Most gyms give little guidance unless you pay for it, usually in the form of working with a Personal Trainer. Those facilities that offer free assistance often limit what is offered. So what are the novice seniors doing wrong. Virtually everything. The seniors I see exercising correctly are gym veterans. You need to become one.

My first question to new gym members spending huge time of the treadmill is why so long? You are not burning nearly the calories that you envision, and more than 20 minutes of treadmill time is excessive. If you very overweight, maybe your starting point should be Weight Watchers and some outdoor walking if the climate in your area allows it. Simple calorie restriction and increased movement work over time.

The sit-in-a-strength-machine-and-do-little crew is a problem for veteran gym members that can't use the machine and for the machine's occupant that is getting nowhere. I timed a guy on an abdominal machine in my gym for at least 15 minutes. I had no intent to use the machine, but it was obvious other folks did. There is no need for a gym member to do 15 minutes of ab work and tie up a machine. A large part of what I was seeing was lack of knowledge. The man was doing little to help himself.

Planet Fitness has revolutionized the gym industry. The business model focuses on inexpensive membership fees and the sad reality that many members won't stick with it, but will not cancel due to the low dollar amount each month. I find most of their gyms top-notch. But if you join, don't be one of the ones that never go, thereby paying for those that do.

It is mid-January, a time when most people decide to get in shape. Here are some ideas. You will hear other views from Johnny the Gym Rat or Tammy the Trainer, but this is my blog.

1.) If you are overweight, cut, count and control calories. Nothing good will happen if you fail to do this

2.) If you join a gym, act like you belong, and you eventually will.

3.) After a maximum of 20 minutes on the treadmill, get off and do some strength training.

4.) Comparing the difficulty of weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain and strength improvement, gaining strength is the easiest if done right. Muscle gain is the most difficult. Doesn't sound right, does it? Trust me, it is.

5.) Springtime produces the best fitness results, but now is the time to get going. If you start doing the right things now, by late March you will be rolling.

6.) In my lectures over the past 25 years, I have spent the bulk of my time trying to correct erroneous ideas on weight management and fitness. I will not do that here. It is a waste of your time and mine.

7.) I will be posting on a regular basis on this site and including many non-fitness tips on senior survival. Please stay with me.


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