Are you one of those who go to the gym to work out? How has that been working out for you?
About 80% of gym members feel better because they belong to a gym, but fewer than 50% feel that they get the most from their experiences. There appears to be a mismatch between what members expect and what clubs offer. How can this mismatch be bridged? And how can gyms help members to meet their goals?
People join gyms for different reasons. The most common ones are to lose weight, build up strength, and for leisure. Of these three, losing weight usually encompasses all others. So, when a member is working hard in training but remains visibly overweight something is not working out yet. Most gyms are full of such people – fit but obese, some very obese.
A good number of my female clients used to ask me: ‘You don’t seem to work out that hard’, and that’s true, ‘but how do you manage to keep your tummy that small?’ Well, I don’t think if it’s that small but I am not uncomfortable about it. However, unlike these clients, I understand that one can work out in a gym without the gym working out for them. Let me explain.
An average woman needs to take 2,000 calories to maintain her weight, and 1,500 to lose about 0.5kg per week. Therefore, by managing one’s calories intake alone, it is possible to lose 10kg in 20 weeks without working out in a gym. This is basic science.
But what if someone exceeds that allowance? This is where problems start. For example, if a woman takes in 2,000 calories daily while wishing to lose 10kg in 20 weeks, that means they have to burn an extra 70,000 calories somehow.
Now, it takes 1.5 hours for a person walking on an inclined treadmill to burn about 1,000 calories. (That’s true for most moderately high physical activities.) Hence, if a person trains for 1.5 hours every day, it will take that person up to 15 weeks of training – without missing a single day – to offset the extra calories gained. That’s a gargantuan task!
Worse still, the traditional African diet is a humdrum festival of starchy meals. And many people unwittingly eat much more than their recommended daily allowances because that is simply what we do. But, unless you live in a gym, no amount of workout can offset a daily feast of chapattis, utumbo soup, and tea with three sugars every morning; a plateful of ‘ugali nyama’ with a token of salad by the side, plus a Coca-Cola in the afternoon; to be capped with a similar diet at night, plus several beers to help down the meal in the evening! You may as well kiss your fitness goals goodbye!
It is unrealistic to expect time spent in the gym to offset the effects of an avalanche of poor choices taken outside of the gym. Someone once said – a moment on the lips stays forever on the hips. There’s some truth in that statement, wrong?
It’s important for gyms to have programs that help individuals meet their goals. This includes providing a balanced understanding of nutrition in relation to health and fitness. Some clubs have linked their programs to make use of clinical diagnostics and, as a result, can product a robust way of managing people’s health.
If you wish to achieve your goals of joining a gym, I recommend these two things to start with:
One, working out should be accompanied with a few lifestyle modifications. Take a few, small, sustainable steps. For example, if you are drinking a soda a day, try one or two per week. And make that sugarless if you can. Similarly, limit your ugali or wali portions – to at most a quarter of a normal sized plate. Finally, drink lots of water. At least 2.5 litres a day. Your stomach will feel full most of the day and you will not be snacking all the time. The gains you will make will amaze you.
Two, join a gym that will meet your goals and complement your efforts. While most people look for a place with a diverse range of equipment and popular programs (e.g. Zumba and Yoga), and correctly so, but a gym also has to be a place that you want to be – both, for the personality and experience of the trainers and for its physical and social ambiance.
That’s why I recommend Colosseum Hotel’s Fitness Club at Haile Selassie Road, Oysterbay, for its holistic experience to fitness and leisure. Being a part of an elegant hotel, with facilities such as a pool, squash courts, and a health bar, it is a place to beat!
A gym is a training ground for everyone. So, join one – and have lots of fun getting healthier!