CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the most interesting aspects of my work is that I get to observe people, and, frankly, I'm in awe more times than not because I see so many persist in making a difference in their health. Some are trying to change the numbers on a scale, while others are working to rehabilitate a mended heart or a brand-new knee. These people inspire others.
However, I also see people who are magnificent at wasting time. These are the ones who shake their heads and complain they just aren't getting the results they want in the gym. Granted, they show up regularly, dressed in workout clothes, but these people are expending more time than energy.
I am also privy to snippets of hallway and stairwell conversations as I go through my workday. Here is part of a conversation that caught my attention recently. "I've got to figure out how to lose this fat. I'm telling you, I'm in here too much to look and feel this out of shape! Why can't I see some results?"
There are plenty of reasons for this frustration, and I'd like to share some of those with you. Chances are you've witnessed some of these people in your exercise world and, if so, you can probably add to my list.
Magazine Guy: Here's the guy who likes to multitask. He brings his reading material with him for his noontime stroll on the treadmill. Figures he can get some important work done while he's burning a few calories. The problem: He never changes his workout routine or his intensity because that would interfere with his reading. He might as well stay at the office with his feet up on his desk.
The Stretcher: This one still thinks you need to stretch before you work out. He goes through 15 minutes of old-school stretches before jumping on a resistance machine. The problem: Stretching before warming up the body can lead to injury and actually hinder athletic performance. Save the stretches until after you work out.
The Cellphone Addict: This gal has made her cellphone an extension of her body. She goes nowhere without it, answers every call and text and treats each as if it's a life-or-death situation. The problem: Training under these conditions makes it highly unlikely she'll ever have an uninterrupted 30 to 60 minutes. Odds are she'll never have a quality workout because she deems her cell a vital part of her fitness equipment.
The Head Turner: Loves to attend a variety of fitness classes, but never follows the instructor's routine. By bringing their own choreography with them, they get noticed. The problem: They don't follow the routine, and then they can't understand why they don't get anything out of the class. For best results, keep in mind that classes are designed to have a warm-up, progress in intensity to the end, where there is a cool-down and a final stretch. So it's kind of important to try and perform the movements.
The Same Thing, Different Day Guy: This fellow had a personal training session nine years ago and has committed the training plan to memory. Just like the first time, he still uses the same amount of weight, does the same number of reps in the exact order. The problem: While he doesn't seem bored, his body definitely is, so there will be zero progress.
I Came to Exercise My Jaw Girl: Needs no explanation, really. This one dresses in all the latest fitness wear and makes her rounds through the gym. She's happy, she's talkative, and she's on track to lose her voice before she loses an ounce of weight.
The Not Exactly Prepared Member: This one yawns as he enters the weight room and slurps down some leftover sports drink from his gym bag. He jumps onto a recumbent bike and pedals to nowhereland. He explains he's only had four hours of sleep because he was "celebrating" a little too much the night before. The problem: A lack of rest, lack of hydration and a general lack of preparation is the perfect setup for lack of fitness progress.
If you are making strides toward a healthier body, I guarantee you're not one of the people described above. If you are going to the gym and seeing little improvement, you may want to change the way you head to your workout. If you want each visit to count, keep in mind that a purpose, a plan and a hydrated body can make a world of difference.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or email cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.