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!
ACTION: But don’t resist the opportunity to get active aging answers twice a week when you subscribe. Enter your email in any of the boxes and claim your bonus while you’re at it.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Whether you like it or not, good grammar makes a difference. For fitness pros, having good grammar increases credibility, confidence, and communication. For exercise participants, hearing perfect grammar goes unnoticed. As it should, because then you can concentrate on the class, workout, routine, cues, choreography, good form — all the things you came for.
Bad grammar cued on a microphone from a stage and amplified to a fitness class or gym is like a huge speed bump on the road to fitness. When bad grammar happens, you hit the speed bump and notice the uncomfortable ride. No longer are you focusing on the road (class content). Instead, your attention goes to the bump. So let’s muscle through this people and go for body and mind working together.
In the present tense, the biggest misuse is with the verbs to lie and to lay. Let’s go Grammar Lite to get the Lay/Lie dilemma sorted out.
If NO noun (person, place, thing, idea, or concept) comes after the verb (action word), you are in LIE Land. (Liar; liar, workout pants on fire!)
“Please lie down.”
“Lie over here (<—- no noun alert) where there is room to lay your mat (<—- noun alert) on the floor.”
If a noun is the word to come right after the verb, then use LAY.
“Lay your mats on the floor.”
“Lay your head on your mat.”
Could we make this easier? The confusion and solution are super similar to the Lie/Lay situation. Again, we are talking about present tense of verbs: to rise and to raise.
If a noun follows the verb, use RAISE.
“Raise your legs in the air as if you really care about good grammar everywhere.”
“Raise your hand if you are having an amazing workout experience in this class with excellent grammar cueing!”
No noun after the verb? Then hallelujah and RISE up.
“Rise and take a breath.”
(If Dan of the Les Mills CX Worx DVD series shouts out “Lay Down” one more time, I am going to put him on perma-mute. He seemed cute; I was willing to overlook the tattoos even. Bump, bump, bump, ouch, ouch, ouch. I just can’t take it anymore!)
Alexandra: When I hear or read, “I want to eat healthy,” I am always waiting for the rest of the sentence. My brain is waiting for the noun. “Healthy” what? Vegetables? Grains? Cakes, cookies, candies, pies and ice cream?
You can say “I want to hang out with healthy people,” or “I want to eat healthful foods,” or even “I eat healthfully.” See how two of the three take a noun? (I’d mess with you and talk about direct objects and the accusative case, but even I’d lose interest. (Too many years spent learning languages, yet my kids can’t seem to hear me in any language if chores are involved).
While we’re at it, “healthily” is an adverb, but even I know that no-one actually uses this word unless college exams are on the horizon!
Do you have a fitness regimen or a fitness regiment? The first is a plan you follow on a consistent basis. The second is a whole bunch of military people, usually formed of several battalions. While your exercise regimen may sometimes feel like it’s a battle, you probably don’t have command of a regiment. Although, if they’re good-looking, that might be quite motivating! And if you tell me you “do a fitness regiment,” I’ll wonder if you’re a bit of an, um, er,
slag active sexual partner!
Why should you care? Because the people or companies you might wish to work with care; your students care; and your high school English teachers care! We care too, as we want all our colleagues to sound as smart and professional as possible!
Someday we may even tackle the difference between “workout” and “work out.” Today is not that day!
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
In deference to your career (or hobby) musings. we thought we’d share some of the reasons you should consider becoming an instructor (definition: person who puts on music and a microphone and leads a group of people in movement).
1. You get paid to work out – Yup, every time you teach, you get money. Sa-weeet deal. This would probably not be a good time to mention that some places do not actually pay as they firmly believe you should teach for the love of it. Don’t fall for that trap – if you want to do something unpaid “just for the love of it,” become a parent. We do encourage a certain level of volunteering, but not in this way.
2. You get to meet lots and lots and lots of new people – And 99% of them are really kind and fun. Great news for extroverts, kinda scary for introverts. But even introverts can find a way to let their inner diva out. We’ve seen some kick-ass introverted indoor cycle instructors. If you do a good job, these people you meet will bring their friends to your class and you will become massively popular.
3. You can share your love of music and movement – All those dance and gymnastics lessons can be put to use, as you choreograph the freshest, finest dance-delicious classes ever known to the world of exercise. But don’t sing along on the microphone unless you have a tolerable voice. High kicks cannot save you if you make dogs cry.
4. You get personal satisfaction out of helping people improve their lives – This one is a big deal and supersedes all the other reasons. If you feel good when your students feel good, that’s good! Just ask James Brown ; he was a famous fitness instructor!
5. You will become a very consistent exerciser – You know, assuming you show up for your own classes on a regular basis. Subbing out a lot is lame. Getting paid is cool, but having a healthy, fit body is even cooler. And you’ll look hot. Cool and hot together.
6. You become a role model – Bonus points if you have children.
7. You get lots of positive attention – Yup, it’s all about YOU as long as you make it all about THEM! In other words, learn their names, know their goals, help them modify for their needs, be compassionate, be sincere, earn their respect and trust, give good advice that’s within your scope of practice, and interact. You can also stare in the mirror a lot if you like that kind of positive attention, as long as that mirror is at home in your bathroom.
8. Your social life will improve – Whether you’re single or partnered up, just take our word on this one. Can you say “flexible?”
9. You know the teacher is good – If you like people, enjoy leading, performing and educating, have essential knowledge of how the body works, hear the musical beat (for most formats), and have the ability to design an effective class, you are probably in good hands with yourself in charge!
10. It’s fun
What do you think? Are you ready to become an instructor? One place to start is with here: The American Council on Exercise, aka ACE.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA