So, you have decided that it's finally time to lose some
Weight and get in shape.
Congratulations on your determination. Changing your habits
Can be a real challenge and it is reasonable to seek some
One of the options that many people choose is to sign up at
The gym. This sounds like a good idea but is one that
Requires some careful thought.
Despite hard to measure, health club industry statistics
Predict that fifty percent of people joining a gym will
Become erratic users or drop-outs within a couple of months.
If you are a beginner, or not already in the habit of
Regular exercise, you are quite likely to be headed for
There are several reasons why the gym experience may not be
Your best choice:
1. Inflated Promises
Despite the sales pitch, the majority of glitzy, chrome and
Glass establishments are not really committed to help you lose weight and get fit. They are set up to sell memberships because that is where the money is. Profitability actually depends on
No-shows because if every member who enrolled tried to use
The facilities, you would not be able to squeeze them into
The building. Once you sign a contract and they have your
Credit card number, you are probably on your own.
2. Will you actually be able to get to the gym regularly?
I've seen it all too often; You work late, traffic is bad,
You have to get home … and shoot, you'll just have to work
Out later! Worse still, when you get home, you do not even
Take a ten minute walk because …. you're going to the gym
Tomorrow. Having a gym membership actually becomes the
Perfect excuse to do nothing.
3. Beware aerobics classes.
This is especially true if you are older, in poor shape or
Seriously overweight. Most aerobics classrooms specialize in
Loud music and fancy footwork. If you are a beginner, forget
It. If you can not keep up, the pep rally mentality and
One-size-fits-all instruction will leave you feeling fat and
4. What do you do when you do not know what to do?
Many gyms do not have a thorough orientation program to get
You started; Nor can you get help when you have questions.
During peak hours, early and late in the day, the staff is
Usually overwhelmed. You will be encouraged to get a
Personal trainer (probably the best idea … if you can get one
With sufficient experience). But this comes with a hefty
Price tag and pressure to sign up for a long-term package
Try this plan instead:
Weight loss is achieved primarily by learning what and how
Much you eat (note I did not use the word "starvation").
Exercise assays weight loss, improves general health and
Fosters a positive attitude.
Improvements in both nutrition and physical activity must be
Sustained and consistent but can be quite moderate.
Now do five things:
1. Spend your money on a meeting with a registered dietitian
Who can show you how to eat and will give you guidance on
Your eating habits. This knowledge will last you for a
Lifetime and puts you miles ahead of all the other "dieters"
2. Buy a good pair of walking shoes and an inexpensive
Pedometer. Go to the Shape-Up America website at
[Http://www.shapeup.org/shape/steps] Also check out
Http://www.thewalkingsite.com/10000steps and click on "beginner".
Read the information carefully. There is more here than
Meets the eye. Even if you are in decent shape, do not take
Walking lightly. Pick up the pace, include some steep hills;
You can get a really good workout.
3. Use your day planner or calendar to schedule your
Workouts for the week in advance and keep a log of
Everything you do. Figure on losing an average of no more
Than one pound per week and chart out short and long term
Goals. Weigh yourself no more than once a week.
4. Get a partner to join you for a regular walk each week.
Better yet, get them to join you on the program and hold
Each other accountable.
5. When your energy and enthusiasm increases, keep your mind
Open to the idea of strength training. This will speed fat
Loss and do more to improve your body shape than any other
Activity. Go out now and get the book "Getting in Shape" by
Anderson, Pearl and Burke. Shelter Publications 2002.
If you noticed, all of the steps above are pro-active. You
Are the one extremely responsible for taking control of
Your life and your health. Even if the guys at the gym would
Do it for you, improvement will be temporary until you
Accept the challenge as your own.
Good luck and good health.