Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Talking to Members about Getting Fit

This week I took on a new meeting in an At Work setting.  I always enjoy these meetings because they are a more intimate setting and there are few members.  Yesterday we were a group of 15 in a beautiful boardroom with a view of the lower part of downtown Toronto.  The members were excited and hopeful, which is a beautiful thing to see.  Meanwhile, enrollment in all my other meetings (I do a total of eight per week) is through the roof due to the interest the new program has engendered.  I am speaking to groups of 60 people in some situations and it is challenging, to say the least!  I have fun though and try to keep everyone laughing and light-hearted while they search in vain for somewhere to sit.

This week's topic for discussion was about moving more.  It's a subject that a lot of people are reluctant to discuss because in the past most of our members have never moved more than off the couch to the refrigerator, myself included!  I always thought I was active but looking back now I have to remind myself that the hiking I thought I did regularly was about four times a year.  I rode my bike once a month.  I skied maybe twice a year.  I walked a lot on the job, but not too swiftly.  My boss's horrible bratty daughter refused to walk with me because she said I was too slow.  I hated her for it, but there you are.

The concept of fitness was once foreign to me too, but now I have come to understand a whole lot more about it.  For example, I wonder why people think you can get fit and burn calories while sitting down?  My mother-in-law and her friends all go to Curves.  She's 80 years old and the biggest muscle she works there is in her jaw, chatting away with all her friends while she sits on funny little machines and wiggles her arms back and forth.  She calls that 'working out'.  At her age that's probably as good as it's going to get even if it could lead to repetitive stress injury.  When I have healthy, young women come up to me at meetings and say "But I work out too, I go to Curves," I just want to tell them "Get off your butt and get moving!"  I understand that Curves claims to offer an atmosphere conducive to women who don't feel good about themselves or comfortable in conventional gyms.  Believe me, NO ONE feels comfortable in a gym.  Everyone is sweating and uncomfortable.  I believe companies like Curves prey on the overweight and deconditioned and offer them very little in return.  You cannot get fit sitting still.  Fitness requires full body movement working several muscle groups at once, like walking, or dancing.  To target one muscle group at a time, as machines do, will only work that muscle.  It will not burn calories nor will it get your heart rate up significantly.

Rather than starting out in a gym setting a lot of people might feel more comfortable in a group training session doing something like yoga or pilates where you lift your own body weight or Zumba, which is fun and will raise your heart rate considerably.  It's hard to lose the feeling of being 'a hippo amongst the swans', but once we realise that no one is actually looking at us, or if they are it is with admiration at our dedication to getting fit we can then get on with why we're there.  We should all understand that no trainer is going to say "Go away, you're too fat for me to train."  They rely on people who need to learn the basics and a good trainer will be able to take a group through a program and modify it for people of all levels of fitness.

We are never too fat or unfit to get moving more.  We just gotta wanta.

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