Which route is best for success? Part I
Should I join a Gym, Weight Loss Program, work with a trainer or get a coach?
Now is the time of year where so many people look for solutions (again) for their weight and health issues. Many people simply repeat the mistakes they have made in the past. Let’s take a look at these “solutions” and see if we can shed some light on what your best option is.
These opinions are based on 20 years of coaching experience; 10 years spent certifying Personal Trainers, 5 years as a Health Club consultant and 25 years of athletic participation and fitness program adherence and my own experience as a consumer and a business owner. My statements are “blanket” statements. There are exceptions to every one of these descriptions. However, as a rule, they are more often than not – accurate.
BIG BOX GYM CHAINS
A Fitness Center is a business that sells memberships to rent their equipment. Usually, you will find a myriad of strength training machines (basically just multiple types of the same idea from different manufacturers) and a vast array of treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical trainers. Generally, there are also a lot of TV’s for you to pass the time while you walk to nowhere…
Most of the equipment found in these gyms are designed to get segmented parts of your body fit or created for muscular hypertrophy (increasing muscle size). They are not designed to meet the current needs of today population ie: functional fitness, “bang for your buck” exercises, injury prevention etc…
These facilities also offer Group Exercise Classes. These classes have catchy names and are taught by bubbly, incredibly fit instructors. Group Exercise classes are guided instruction of general exercise programs, and maximum social opportunities. Classes such as this are a good addition to your fitness regimen if you choose the correct class with the correct instructor for your needs. They can certainly be fun, engaging and an effective part of a complete fitness plan.
Some Fitness Centers employ Personal Trainers. Most of the Personal Trainers that work in big box gyms are entry level trainers with little experience. This makes them more of an “exercise instructor” than a Personal Trainer, however, if you have little to no experience they certainly can benefit you in getting comfortable with the confusing layout of a facility and help you gain confidence to utilize the equipment.
PROS – TONS (literally) of equipment, a lot of TV’s, ample parking spaces, towels a large array of classes that you may or may not need and sales people.
CONS – Box Gyms are designed for the expert. You are paying to utilize all of the equipment that they purchased. You must design your own program (I am sure you have tons of time and expertise for that) and choose the appropriate Group Exercise class and instructor for your needs.
Summary – A Big Box Gym is a good choice if you are an expert athlete or if you are satisfied with your results or if you plan to pay for a membership for a year and not show up (up to 75% of all gym members do not utilize their membership after 6 weeks). This option can also be useful if it is a compliment to a complete training program.
Diet Programs are excellent at telling you what to eat. Most people join these point counting programs because they are extremely disappointed in their current lifestyle and weight. Most of these diet programs have a measurement day to instill motivation for compliance to their instructions.
Many of these programs manufacture and sell their very own diet food and nutritional supplements. They offer supportive meetings and usually have an online component or community group.
PROS – There are support group meetings that can be beneficial and somewhat educational. These programs are generally inexpensive (as the entry fee is kept low to gain customers for their retail products). There is a social support element (which is vital to success), generally there is a convenient schedule for meetings. The information that is discussed is helpful.
CONS – Incomplete. These diet programs focus only on WEIGHT loss with no focus on Fat loss and/or maintaining lean tissues. Most rapid weight loss plans sacrifice your metabolism (the amount of calories you burn). These programs typically do not create long-term success because they capitalize on the motivation and desperation of the client. There is no solid fitness component to these plans. Most participants initially lose weight but efforts stall very soon there after due to the unattainable aspects of program compliance.
SUMMARY – This option is a great choice for you if you wish to continue the roller coaster weight loss and gain struggles of your past. They are built on a tried and true failure model that does not address your current needs of a full lifestyle overhaul. These programs can be beneficial for accountability purposes and providing initial stage eating education if you have little to no prior “dieting” experience. They are not a solid choice for lifelong success.
Supplements/ Shake - Challenge Programs
These are typically the worst offenders of marketing. These companies sell Protein shakes and bars, nutritional products and promises. Their claims are that drinking their delicious shakes, using their nutritional products and living their “lifestyle” will bring you rapid weight loss. An added bonus for these companies is that if you adhere to their “program” you will become a fan and want to distribute their products for them. You can become financially free distributing these products and make even more money by recruiting people to utilize and distribute the products to an even wider audience.
PROS – Multi Vitamins and Nutritional products can be beneficial. Meal Replacement Formulas can aid in compliance to dieting and reduce total calorie intake. Some of these companies do make some quality products.
CONS – Discerning between what is marketing and what is science is incredibly difficult for the average consumer. The sales people for these companies are generally not much more than product users that saw a path to financial freedom. They have minimal training in nutrition, dietetics, weight loss or psychology.
I once sat in a meeting with a sales person that told me that her companies’ Protein was better than the other because it had Amino Acids in it. FYI – ALL Protein is made from Amino Acids… Needless to say, that meeting did not go as planned for her.
Other cons – Nutritional Products are only a small part of a very big solution. They are a compliment to success, not a foundation as they are marketed.
SUMMARY – Nutritional products are an important part of your complete success formula. You should find a reputable company that makes a small product line and avoids over sensationalizing their product claims. Also, try not to get sucked into a sales position when all you wanted was some success. Bottom line - there are many better alternatives than this route.
To your success,