You want to get in better shape? Return your post-menopause weight to pre-menopause levels? Have you heard the oh-so-true true rumors that strength training is very important especially for women over 50? Maybe you’re ready to get going with a new resistance routine. But dang if that weight training equipment out on the gym floor looks intimidating and perhaps a little confusing.
What to do? What to do? Why, get into strength training classes led by a qualified group fitness instructor.
But first let’s cover what NOT to do: imitate the moves you see other people doing out on the gym floor. We have seen some seriously crazy stuff and wacky technique performed by exercisers on their own. Even if the moves you see around you are done safely and make sense for THAT exerciser, they may not be right for YOU.Strength exercises you see others do may not be right for YOU. How can you choose the right strength moves? Click To Tweet
Let’s also take a moment to wave good-bye to the exercises you may be digging up from school PE class memory. Odds are good those exercises need to be left back there. (No Mr. Hammond, duck walks across the playground do not strengthen the lower body. I don’t care how many 5th graders you quack and bark at).
Why go it alone when trying to figure out which exercises are best for you to increase your strength? IF you want to embark on a weight training program that will:
THEN go with the pros. In strength training classes. Where you reap the benefits of moves led by a professional.
Think of group strength training classes as a place to draft off the instructor’s knowledge and skills. You can then take that information and experience and apply it to your solo workouts outside the class environment.
If you have a qualified instructor, you can trust the exercises s/he is demonstrating. You get moves that offer a stamp of approval. Listen for comments from the instructor that tell you the how, why, what, and how much for each exercise. Take mental notes so you have a toolbox to pull from when on your own.
Even the best strength move offers little benefit if it’s not executed well. A class setting with a good teacher offers something no solo workout can — external feedback and correction. Learn what to do in step one; Improve on how with this step.New to strength training? Get into a class led by a qualified fitness teacher before going solo. Click To Tweet
Why did or didn’t you feel an exercise as expected? How can you adapt a move to your particular condition? What’s another option with the same goal? Most group fitness teachers are happy to give a few minutes of their time and expertise after class.
Especially for beginning weight trainers (like yourself, perhaps?), a class can be a welcoming place with like-minded people. If you’re like many of our past participants, you want to hide when first starting a new program. It’s easier to blend in within a class than to face the intimidation of the machines and rows of free weights outside the classroom doors.
Maybe you’ll enjoy your class and new strength so much you’ll decide to train forever and ever in a group setting. But if not, you now have a community to venture onto the gym floor “armed” and ready!
When you come to Santa Barbara, my sister and I invite you to come to our classes! We promise to load you up with weights and good ideas! If you aren’t sure whether group fitness classes are for you, read this and be prepped for happiness and success: All Sizes Welcome: Fitness Pros Want You! /Now get out there and resist, resist, resist!
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Fitness professionals and our beloved industry have changed. And not just out of tight-fitting lycra and midriff-baring spandex. We’ve changed to embrace, welcome, nay, even beg all sizes, shapes, ages, fitness levels to take part in an active world that genuinely cares about the health and happiness of everyone. You included!
We want YOU in our classes. We teach group classes because the people in them are the ginchiest and grooviest. And after more than 30 years of teaching, we can definitely say that almost everyone walks in to the exercise room for the first time with one thought in mind: “This is freakin’ scary!” How can we possibly know that? Because new students always come up and tell us. Not in those words. More like, “I haven’t worked out before. I can’t keep up with all these people. I don’t see anyone who looks like me. I don’t think I’ll last the entire time. I’m not coordinated.” These are the most common, but they all mean essentially the same thing.
I want THIS lady in my classes. She makes me feel happy!
People who teach group fitness do so because they love working with people. You are that person! When you’re in the group fitness room, all you need is a willing attitude and desire to try your best. So take a deep breath, remind yourself that the people in the club were once just as scared as you, and step into the light with these tips in mind:
Be aware that we (by “we” we mean all humans) tend to see what we are looking for. If you think you are going to hit the front desk and be whumped upside the eyeballs by “perfect bodies,” that is exactly what you will notice. If you can take a deep, yogic or aerobic breath and look again, you will notice something fabulous — “regular” people actually inhabit gyms. All ages, all sizes, all shapes, all kinds of fashion statements, all levels of everything. What they ALL have in common is a desire to avoid embarrassment; a desire to be healthier; to be more energetic; to be loved; to have friends; to have a low stress life; to enjoy their bodies more each day.
We leave you with a true and somewhat humorous story — in our 20s we taught at a small studio. The owner was one of those “ideal” bodies. And she was also beautiful and kind. Genetic Freak! A potential member came in to the studio to inquire about the classes. She took one look at the owner and remarked, “Oh, I could never look like that.” Then she spotted us. You wouldn’t run screaming from us, but we aren’t perfect. We are fun! Anyway, the woman pointed over toward us and said to the girl at the front desk, “But I could look like that.” So we have called ourselves the Attainable Goals ever since. We hope you’ll come be an attainable goal with us!
Readers: If you are new to exercise, what would it take to get you into the group fitness room? If you’re a regular exerciser, what could you do to make a new person feel included?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
When there are changes in the nervous system (spinal cord, brain, neurons, nerves, etc.) and circulatory system (heart, veins & arteries deliver blood to body’s tissues), this can cause a drop in the amount of blood getting to the brain. This decrease leads to Ka-Thunk – loss of consciousness. We discussed this right here and here.
* Anemia is having a lower than normal red blood cell count. Why does this matter? Because a low count means decreased oxygen to the brain. And lots of university students are iron-deficient, which is strongly correlated to anemia. Lots of females with heavy periods are prone to anemia too.
* Eating disorders wreak havoc on the body, so it’s no surprise that fainting is a result.
* Pregnancy is fairly uncommon, but not unknown to this age group. Besides changes to the circulatory system and dehydration, those dang fetuses can sit right on top of the blood vessels and SQUEEZE, there goes the brain’s blood supply.
* Stress affects the nervous system, and not in a good way. Blood pressure goes LOW, LOW, LOW when you get under stress. This is rare for university students, as they never, ever worry about finals, papers, social issues, money, grades; that kind of stuff!
* Drugs do not mix well with exercise, including some prescription meds. Actually, if you’re misusing or abusing drugs, fainting is probably the least of your health worries!
* Medical issues, such as cardiac (heart) problems, seizures, or certain types of migraines are a big deal. If you’re fainting a lot or for longer than a minute, get checked out!
* Hyperventilation (fast breathing) causes carbon dioxide (CO2) to decrease in the blood. Combine exercise with an anxiety/panic attack, and you see the problem!
* Overexercising pisses off your histamine receptors, and they get so upset that they overact.
* One of the most common reasons students faint is dehydration. Drink more fluids, especially water, and eat properly before your workout. Sadly, this is so easy to prevent, yet accounts for most of the fainting. Does this sound like you? If so, get a water bottle. Use it!
* Another frequent reason for passing out in class is becoming overheated. This goes along with getting dehydrated, so after you get your water bottle, stand by the fan, A/C unit or the open door.
And now we come to the reason that I suspect there’s an epidemic of fainting this particular quarter – too many people in the room. More students are showing up to class, which means they are all getting hotter, sooner. Considering the fact that students are not fainting in the early morning classes, but are dropping with alarming consistency in the mid-day slots, my guess is a reasonable one. Now I just have to figure out if it’s better to have fewer students (it’s hard to say no to all those eager undergrads) or require them to bring personal spritzers! Or ask them to be absent more often!
Bonus word: Syncope – This is the medical term for “fainting after exercise.” Pre-syncope is when you have signs that you’re about to faint, but manage to recover before fainting occurs. Not to be confused with “syncopate,” which is to place musical accents on the normally unaccented beats, or to shorten a word such as “Sequim” to “Squim.” (Anyone from the Pacific Northwest knows this one!)
Photo credits: Creative Commons
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: Did you know that 73% of all patients who chew gum prefer…oh wait, wrong statistic. (Reads note on hand)…Seventy-three percent of US consumers believe that it’s important to be physically fit as part of being “well.” With obesity rates expected to climb to 42% by 2050, that is a LOT of people who will be looking in the mirror for wellness services.
Kymberly: If you are asking yourself, “why should I care about the IHRSA club trends?” give yourself 10 guest passes, then allow us to ask you the following: Do you have a goal to improve your health? to reduce fat? to receive more services and professional expertise from your club? Then ride this trend train to your workout station, as you will be the one to benefit from increased partnerships between clubs and local health care providers, nutrition coaching, personal training for special medical populations, and workplace wellness facilities (excerpted from the IHRSA Press Release “List of Trends for Fitness Clubs”).
A: I know I love teaching group exercise, precisely because of all the people! It’s almost as much fun as disco-dancing. Although…it’s entirely possible that someone will add disco dancing to a group exercise program sometime soon. Sign me up! Socially based exercise is on the rise, including dance and nightclub-inspired workouts. Hmm, might be time to rename the studio Club 54!
K: Why not name it “Studio Get More” cuz’ that’s what’s in store: more classes, more variety in class types, more people taking part in group workouts, from the club to beach; from gym basement to corporate offices. Y’all must have been busy, because survey results show increases in all sorts of group exercise get togethers. Boot camp, kickboxing, step, yoga, Latin dance-based, nightclub-inspired classes (yeah, I think that is a euphemism for “pole dancing and strip tease exercise), are all on the rise. Oops, double entendre there.
A: Wowzer. Since 1999, the number of Americans working with a personal trainer has gone from 4 million to 6.5 million. Hmm, I wonder if it counts if I train myself? That is about as personal as it gets. And now I’m curious about those 2.5 million – what were they doing between 1999 and now? Attending Prince concerts? Elementary school?
K: More than 90% of clubs offer some type of personal training. That’s larger than Donald Trump’s ego. If you still find one-on-one training too rich for your
fat blood, then no worries. You can still be super trendy and save money by taking advantage of small-group and semi-private training sessions. Trainers are tuned into their clients and future clients (you?) and finding ways to meet your training and budget needs.
So many trends, so much good health. Whether it’s in a group exercise class, one-on-a few with a trainer, or in a corporate wellness setting, we are still holding out for our turn on DWTS: The Disco Years! Say, is it possible to start a trend? Dancing, dancing, dancing. She’s a dancing machine!
Photo credits: Creative Commons