Is It Really True?

Is it really true? You are officially on the lookout for some exercise equipment for your home or apartment? Do you have visions of an aerobic machine dancing in your head, or perhaps that glow in your eyes is due to an image of yourself as a strength trainer for the first time. Could it be true? You have already picked out some prime real estate in your home to house your precious purchase. Will it assume a highly visible position in your living room or will it be nestled comfortably in your basement? “Location, location, location!” The specific locale of this new addition to your family will have no significant bearing on its role in your life. Is it true? You’ve vowed that this relationship will last. You insist that you are not merely engaged in an impulse purchase prompted by the typical New Year’s resolution. You are really ready to endure all things with your new fitness partner!
Thank goodness that you do not have blinders on at the moment. You know what happens all too frequently to these shiny, new exercise toys. They are played with for a while and then, suddenly, forsaken, abandoned, and completely forgotten. Most people don’t outgrow them. They do not really give up on them. They give up on themselves. To illustrate this point, I offer you the following list. I searched the local area on Craigslist and discovered this lengthy, but only partial, group of items posted for sale on but one day in January.
     Vertical leg press           New Balance 5K6100 exercise bike        Tunturi Pro exercise bike
     Bowflex ultimate           Schwinn Medallion stationary bike        Marcy weight machine
     Ab slider                          75 CM fitness ball                                      Complete home gym
     Airdyne bike/arms       weight lifting equipment                          ProMaster treadmill
     New Ab trainer              Vitamaster stationary bike                      ProForm 835QT treadmill
     Push-up discs                PowerZone weight bench                         ProFit iron gym bar
     stability ball                   Cardio Zone Super Sport                         Gazelle exercise machine
     kettle bells                     Marcy Platinum Mp-4500 gym              Schwinn DX900 flywheel
     Bowflex climber           Sky Trek Glider                                          Bodyrider Dual trainer
     Weslo treadmill            LifeFitness 95C bike                                 Health rider
     Stairmaster 400PT      Pilates reformer                                         VTX weighted ball
     Life Fitness C3 bike     Total Gym 1400                                         NordicTrack EXP 2000i
     Manual treadmill         Reebok adjustable dumbbells                 Vision Fitness Lifecycle
     BodySolid Squat           Trimax exercise machine                         Leg curl bench
 I can imagine each piece just begging for a new owner and a nice place to reside for another season of its life. Each piece undoubtedly has its own story. Each one had high hopes for its previous user. Each had longed for something more than the strained relationship which strangely developed in every case. As if with big, adorable puppy dog eyes, they all call out to anyone who appears willing to adopt them. Will it be love at first sight for you?
My wish for you is that the equipment you procure is something that you gradually grow to enjoy using. Let’s face it, love is not all glamorous. It takes hard work on your part. It is more of a decision than a mere feeling. You decide on a daily basis that all of the sweat, the burning, and the exhaustion is worth the commitment. And, indeed, it is. As time goes by, you will be grateful for the choice you’ve made over and over again to love yourself. To love yourself is to never give up on yourself. Few may support you. Some may even criticize you. However, by focusing on what is possible and practical you will find success. So, whether you invite a new recumbent bike, or some resistance bands, or a Total Gym to be a companion in your life, it really doesn’t matter. (I would give my personal stamp of approval for these particular pieces of equipment for many reasons!) Start today by reminding yourself just how much you deserve this gift of better health. It is true. Isn’t it? Yes, and never forget it!

Just Another Manic January

Heard any of these comments lately??
“Are you telling me that here is actually a sign up sheet for the cardio equipment?”
“Why is she permitted to stay on that treadmill? I thought there was a time limit for usage during peek times of the day?”
“May I work in with you? What do you mean no, you have six more sets to do?!?”
“What exactly is the proper etiquette for using the strength training machines?”
“Why is that person camping out on that machine I need to use?”
“Do I really have to clean this thing after I work out on it?”
“Is it always this hot in here?”
“Why do the televisions always have to be showing sporting events?”
“When is this crowd going to begin to shrink in size?”
“What am I supposed to do? I was only shown how to use a couple of machines?”
“What is that smell? It is overpowering!”
“Where are the fitness staff members when you need assistance?”
“Hey, is anyone going to clean up this mess? The garbage can is overflowing and the paper towel dispenser is empty.”
“Can you please change this hideous music. I can’t possibly be expected to exercise with this blasting in my ears!”
“Can somebody do something about the incessant dropping of dumbbells on the floor?”
“Why can’t I just leave my jacket on the floor in the corner? I don’t have time to go to the locker room.”
Oh, boy! Welcome to January and the wonderful world of wintertime working out! A typical January day at fitness centers everywhere could best be described as a purely chaotic scene. People from all walks of life, all imaginable backgrounds, young and old, male and female, first-timers, exercise regulars, fitness addicts, all come crashing together, sometimes literally, in one place. Fire codes are probably violated as gyms overreach  their various capacities. Exercise safety codes are violated as many intentionally ignore the basic fundamentals of training. Some are in violation only because they were not taught properly. Personal space is certainly violated as people are herded into what could easily be seen as a big barn filled with strange equipment and animals that stink. Moral codes are violated as these crowded days seem to bring out the worst in human nature and selfishness abounds. Fashion codes are violated, and I’m not even going to venture into that realm. How are you to survive this nightmare long enough to stick to your resolution of taking better care of yourself?
The early weeks, even months, of the new year typically present some highly unusual circumstances. I’m sorry if you are feeling more than a bit overwhelmed. I apologize if you feel like a stranger, and quite alone amidst the mass of humanity scrambling for some control of their lives at the same time in the same place. For what it’s worth, if I were there, I would notice you. I would come to your aid. If you were left hanging from an incomplete or rushed fitness orientation, I would gladly fulfill my duty to teach you. Despite the obstacles, due to the apparent gridlock on the fitness floor, I would see to it that you are instructed on how to use those machines which would enable you to have a thorough workout each time you courageously show up. You would no longer be a foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the exercise regulars. Your confusion would disappear as you would no longer be swayed to and fro by the every whim of false fitness doctrine. It is not necessary for you to know how to use every single piece of equipment, every multi-tasking gym apparatus, nor be able to perform every free weight exercise, and become expertly acquainted with all the many forms of cardiovascular machines in one day, or one week, or even one month for that matter. It is already an overwhelming experience to attempt this heath and wellness journey with others surrounding you on all sides. As long as you are prepared with the knowledge and skills to perform a complete body workout three times per week, you are off to a superb start. As you observe others, please do not feel as if you are missing out greatly on something. You clearly see a number of movements being performed that are not as of yet a part of your routine. Be patient. All in good time. I will not leave you stranded. There is much to learn. Don’t be in a hurry. I have seen what happens too frequently this time of year. Were I with you today at the gym, I would give you options so that even when the traffic jam stretches for miles, you will not be at a standstill. Your workout will go on because you know a way out. You have an escape route mapped out for you.
If you need me to be a bouncer for you, I can wear that hat as well. No violence, of course! But, I have never been shy when it comes to politely explaining to others that they must share all equipment! If you wish to “work in” with someone on a particular machine, you are well within the bounds of appropriate etiquette in asking to do so. “No” is never the correct response from another member. I don’t care who it is. That answer doesn’t fly with me. Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s time. Don’t be intimidated. I give unto you knowledge that you may display confidence and competence under any circumstances.
I am convinced that those people who leave their workout area a mess, most likely do the same thing at home or in the workplace. All weight plates need to be removed from Olympic size bars, curl bars, Smith machines, and other specific plate loaded equipment. All dumbbells must be put back in the same place from which they were removed. Please don’t ever rest your dumbbells on the benches. Do you put a bunch of bowling balls on your living room furniture? Well, I would hope not, even if you bowl three nights per week. So, the thought of using a towel and a spray bottle is foreign to you? Get used to it. Be thoughtful. Please consider if someone else left a pool of sweat and an imprint of their figure on a machine, would you feel comfortable sitting or standing in that workout residue? No, you would not. So, be clean, not mean. You can set a good example for others by what you do and by the manner in which you choose to communicate. These crowds can easily produce “gym rage”, and I’m not referring to the symptoms brought on by illegal P.E.D. usage. Be kind in all situations. Annoying as some may be, as stubborn as others may come across, as rude as someone may seem, you don’t have to add fuel to a highly flammable scene. “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”– Mark Twain  You never know how another’s day has been nor the personal challenges and struggles that they are trying desperately to deal with.  As previously stated though, seek out your friendly, neighborhood Personal Trainer if you need backup.
With so many people thrust into this January madness, I am certain of one thing. What a wonderful opportunity to meet someone new. Even if you rate yourself at the very bottom of the social butterfly scale, the huge throng of gym goers presents you with the chance to find another to connect with. I believe that this just might be the most important element in determining if you are to endure the resolution rush and be a consistent fixture in the facility when springtime bursts upon us. If the staff is on the top of their game, they should assist everyone in this area. From Januarys gone by, memories of the great feeling derived from simple introductions still warm my heart. During training sessions or new member orientations, I always made it my personal quest to introduce my students to as many other members as possible.  As we all do our best to deal with January’s difficult dilemma, we can find that a few laughs with a new friend are just what the doctor ordered. Also, don’t be so hard on the staff. They, too, can be overwhelmed. If you are a rebel, and take pleasure in constantly disobeying the fitness center policies, you make their job so much more complicated.
Best wishes to you, and don’t forget to change your wet, slushy shoes in the locker room!

Bridge Over Troubled Water

You may have your heart set on some new workout apparel in anticipation for your big debut at the gym, but I highly recommend that you fix your mind on the thought of hiring a trainer and spend your money in a manner that is going to be most productive. I am not going out on a limb here to say that if you heed the counsel of that fitness professional you might just need to acquire some new clothes in the future anyway. But at that point, the purchases may be as a result of the wonderful progress you have made and not just because you feel the need to fit in. The pun was intended. Don’t concern yourself with looking like everyone else by wearing the latest fun, fitness fashions. Focus on the things that matter most: guidance, expertise, wisdom beyond the gym setting, nutritional advice, encouragement, motivation, and accountability are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You may need to lean heavily on one who knows the ropes before you can go it alone in the gym. This does not mean you are weak, in any sense of that word. Rather, it is a sign of someone who desires to become further educated, completely committed, and put forth the hard work which is necessary to reach your stated personal fitness goals.
“The time has come to turn about and face the future. This is a season of a thousand opportunities.” -Gordon B. Hinkley  You can expect that this new year can be filled with new adventures. Your journey can take you anywhere you want. Your help-mate in the gym, your trainer will jump start your travels with a very personal approach. This is all about discovering the best in you and enthusiastically seizing the day. Indeed, it can be filled with numerous, exciting prospects. Starting an exercise routine without the assistance of one to direct you and correct you is like an unsharpened pencil–no point. If you lack confidence or feel that you are not competent, looking to one whose sole desire is to help you face the future fearlessly and turn your weaknesses into strengths is most crucial. Your trainer is a teacher, and taking advantage of their counsel is the best manner in which to begin an exercise program. It is not wise to simply observe others at the gym and hope to copy their approach step by step. They very well might just be winging it because they, too, are relatively new and inexperienced at this endeavor. There is no guarantee that you’ll get anywhere by simply mimicking the actions of another you determine must know what he or she is doing. You only see them for the short time you might be in the facility together. On the other hand, a trainer can simplify things greatly for you. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”-Mark Twain  One objective of your trainer is to help you see the expanse of the gym floor for what it really is-just a big room full of organized rows of equipment. You learn line upon line, precept upon precept. What seem to be endless rows of machines, transform by the help of a trainer into manageable tools to be able to do specific movements, and the beauty and simplicity of each movement and purpose for each operation is unfolded right before your very eyes. “Everything is hard before it is easy.”-Goethe  Please do not make this part of your journey more difficult than it has to be. Your mentor, your sensei for all things fitness related will ease you through this process. There is nothing that you cannot overcome with the helping hand of a trusted advisor and friend.
Your trainer can be the bridge that carries your from your humble beginning across the sea of confusion and uncertainty to a place of confidence and competence. “When you’re weary, feeling small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. I’m on your side. When times get rough, and friends just can’t be found. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down. When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street, when evening falls so hard, I will comfort you. I’ll take your part when darkness comes and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”-Simon and Garfunkel

To Buy or Not to Buy, that is the Question

You have resolved to increase your physical activity for this new year. Excellent! However, you are debating how to approach this goal. Should you join a fitness facility? Would buying some equipment for your home be the way to go? Should you hire a personal trainer? Would signing up for some type of group exercise classes be effective for you? These are important questions to ask. Let me shed some light on the varied possibilities and help you make a better informed decision.

I don’t think it is a stretch to make the assumption that some of you have already chosen one or more of these routes before. So, you do have some prior experience from which you can draw some reliable conclusions. These past efforts on your part must be viewed in a positive manner. You did something. You tried. You can certainly provide some information regarding potential obstacles which you encountered in previous resolutions regarding the state of your health. Based on your personality, your fitness history, your confidence level, and many other factors, you might have already come to the conclusion that there is no way one of the methods mentioned in the introduction will be part of your journey at this time. Perhaps, you feel as if you’ve already wasted money on a piece or two of equipment. These purchases still haunt you because they sit in your basement staring at you. You may feel as if they stand as a constant reminder of mistakes from years gone by. Maybe you are contemplating renewing your membership at the local recreation center. However, you remember the January crowds and the jostling for parking spaces outside and then the frustrating wait for exercise machines inside. You might have started to work with a trainer before, but unfortunately that relationship didn’t last very long because you just didn’t find the personal connection and level of comfort you were hoping for. Whatever the reason for your break-up, you might feel a bit jaded by the very thought of paying someone to make you do anything ever again. When you decided to try a group exercise class, you may have felt lost in the frenzy, overwhelmed, or just didn’t seem to enjoy this type of activity. Wherever you’ve been and whatever you’ve felt, let me remind you of how proud I am of you for having the courage to do something.

You must know that not all home exercise equipment is the same, just as not every gym or health club is identical. Certainly, not all personal trainers are impersonal and care only about your money. Nor are all of them simply drill sergeants who are attempting to belittle you, then break your will and your body. Clearly, there are many different opportunities for you in the realm of fitness classes also. No potential offering in any of these approaches is created equally. Sure, there are risks involved, but also great rewards. Let’s find something that is going to jumpstart your new year and finally help you fulfill your long desired resolution.

Although I am not going to tell you precisely what you need to buy for your own personal use, I will make the following observations concerning exercise equipment. There is no shortage of options for you to choose something that you may put to good use in the safety and comfort of your own house or apartment. There are countless manufacturers peddling home gym products. Therefore, with so much available today, there are many levels of pricing. Choose wisely. You have a budget to work with, presumably. If you feel a treadmill, an elliptical, or a recumbent bike is what you are most likely to utilize as it is intended, and not as a clothes hanger, then do some research. Take a trip to a few sporting goods stores and try out what they have in stock. If you have a friend who has some type of cardio machine, just ask them if you may take it for a test drive. The businesses which sell only fitness related equipment are worth checking as well. They will tend to offer more commercial grade products. Some do sell used and reconditioned pieces. I am absolutely sure that you will be able to experience and, indeed, feel the difference between various models. Yes, you do very often “get what you pay for” when it comes to the wonderful world of fitness. I don’t even hesitate for a second to tell you that there is some cheap junk being pushed off on would-be exercisers. Please take into account your current physical state, your bodyweight, your available space at home, as well as some common sense as you consider how much money to cough up on this important purchase. The sensible thing to do is, as I always say, listen to your body. Be wary of machines masquerading as elliptical trainers when in fact the shape of the movement of the lower body is no where close to being elliptical in form. I know that some companies just attach that word “elliptical” to a heap of metal because they believe people will buy it. Many self professed experts tout the elliptical as the best thing since sliced bread. A true elliptical trainer is wonderful but by no means something you must absolutely add to your living room or basement. Remember what it is that I preach. No matter your age or your background, your health and well-being is vitally important. It is never too late nor are you ever too far gone to invest in your future! Don’t buy something that should be scrapped and recycled! I cannot give you an exact dollar amount that you must spend, but I trust that you will know quality when you see it and use it.

I could talk to you for hours about the pros and cons of fitness centers and personal trainers. Let me just say this. I believe you should be made to feel comfortable, and welcomed, and important, even special, because you are. You are not just another number increasing the January headcount. You matter! So, don’t sell yourself short. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. It is the responsibility of trainers and fitness staff members at every facility from here to Timbuktu to help you make the most of each and every visit. If you are brand new to this health kick, be sure to sign up for a free orientation. Oh, if a facility doesn’t offer one, then find another that does. Don’t be fooled by the look of the place. While state of the art equipment is great, and appropriate lighting and colors have their place as well, it is always the people who make or break a facility. Give me a dungeon filled with a friendly staff ready and willing to interact and give of their time freely to others over the ornately decorated palace where you name is forgotten as quickly as you sign on.

Do you think a group setting might stir the inner fitness fanatic in you? You won’t know until you try. Some recreation centers and YMCAs offer you the opportunity to join in exercise classes without having to pay a full membership fee. Make a phone call and find out if an initial visit might include trying out a class for free. Some of you will find the motivation you need in the group setting. I frequently hear how certain class instructors develop a groupie type following. Though certainly different than a personal trainer in some aspects of their role, it is still necessary that you mesh well with the leader’s personality. Of course, you don’t ever want to feel out of place. Once again, I counsel you not to compare yourself with others who are participating in the group. Despite the fact that you are crossing paths briefly, they are each on their own individual journey. Hopefully, you will be inspired by someone to more fully enjoy your own.

Get a Grip on it

Admit it. You have been guilty of daydreaming. Staring out the window wishing it were about 75 degrees. You are longing for the look and smell of freshly mowed fairways. But, it is January and you happen to live in the greatMidwest. The only green you’ve seen these days is the Christmas tree you just took down at home for this wonderful season. Well, that is, of course, unless you include the money that you are also thinking of spending on a new set of golf clubs. Now that’s an awful lot of green! I ‘d like to offer a suggestion before your fantasizing turns into an another expensive golf-related purchase. Step one: get a grip on yourself! Step two: put a new set of grips on your existing clubs! Step three: forget about the latest edition of your favorite club available on the market because you’ve just created a brand new set!

Yes, you heard me correctly. You can instantly transform your irons and woods into something worth keeping in the bag. Do you need to try something new to be convinced? There are plenty of options available. Certainly, I believe that you can put your hands on a different style golf grip that will excite you! Go to your local golf store and let your hands have fun feeling the various textures and sizes. Hey, some of you have never had new grips installed before. No worries. You will discover just how important this component part of the club really is when you feast on the samples. Your eyes will be opened as your hands provide you with instant feedback. This grip is too large. This one is too small. This grip feels very tacky. This one is too much like your old grips. Look, it is perfectly natural to be attracted to a particular grip because of it’s appearance. You love the look, the color, and the design. However, having golf grips that match the clubhead or shaft in some manner is not going to help your cause on the golf course. When you find the feel that is most pleasing to your hands, then try to coordinate if you insist on being fashion conscious with your clubs. I would suggest going online to find the best deal on the grip that you have chosen. You might be surprised to find an assortment of colors are available for your favorite style. So, you can have it all without spending an arm and a leg!

Let’s face it. Your golf clubs have plenty of life left in them. As silly as it may sound, think with your hands. They are your only connection to the club. This is a very important relationship. It is also a very unique relationship. What is a perfect match for me may not work at all for you. Therefore, it would not be logical for me to recommend a specific golf grip. Grip it and then rip it!