I don’t think there is a gym anywhere in America that you enter where you won’t find at least one exercise ball. I’ve been in gyms that didn’t have a jump rope or maybe was missing the resistance bands but NEVER have a seen one without the exercise ball and there’s a few good reasons why.
They’re Fun!That’s right, I don’t think that there is a more child-like piece of equipment in the gym. There are literally hundreds of different exercises that you can do with them and you ‘re bound to find one of them that’s easily within your range of difficulty if you search or just ask one of the gym staff if you’re at the gym.
They help maintain good form and improve posture. I can’t stress this enough to newbies. Form and posture is MUCH more important than amount of weight or number of reps when you’re just starting out. Why? Well for one thing it sets the foundation for more advanced exercises and moves. If you learn the correct way in the beginning you’re more likely to continue to use correct form when the routines and workouts become more physical and demanding. Secondly proper form ensures that you are working the targeted muscle groups. When you cheat a little by changing your posture or form even just slightly you may be bringing different muscles into play that the exercise was not designed to engage. Lastly and most importantly, SAFETY! Using an exercise ball stabilizes your core, helps maintain the natural curvature in your back when doing floor exercises and actually forces you to constantly adjust you posture just to stay balanced.
Versatility. As I mentioned there are hundreds of different exercises created for the ball. A great place to start is with this Complete Guide to Ball Exercises. There you will find workouts of varying degrees of difficulty for just about everyone.
Benefits of a Personal Fitness Trainer if You’re Over 50
I’ve been hitting the gym for a few years now and until recently had never really considered using a personal trainer. I don’t know if it’s the male pride thing or that I think that I can just simply figure it all out or what. You know kinda like the man who gets lost on an out of town trip yet refuses to stop and ask one of the locals for directions.
Well I finally decided to try one out. The new gym that I joined a few months ago offers one free session with a trainer with membership and to be honest I didn’t even think about it but they called me one Saturday and I decided what the heck and made an appointment.
The benefits I walked away with from just one session?
Motivation and Accountability. OK, I’m somewhat of a gym regular so this isn’t a real big issue with me, but it so happened that the day that I had set the appointment for I just wasn’t feeling it and probably would’ve skipped going to work out had it not been for the commitment I had made to someone else. I understand that for the trainer time is money and If I didn’t show up he might not get paid (even though this was a free lesson for me)
Personalized workout plan based on my own fitness goals. As someone over 50 that has managed to lose almost 20 pounds over the last 5 years or so my main goal now is to maintain or possibly increase my lean muscle mass as I age. This is important to keep my metabolism high and fight sarcopenia. The trainer pointed out that I was basically doing the same routine that I had done to lose the weight and that some of that might be counter productive to my new goals. He suggested a few easy changes that should help me get to where I want to be.
Technique and safety. I had mostly picked up all my technique from watching other people in the gym who looked like they knew what they were doing. I mean they looked like whatever they were doing was working for them so why wouldn’t it work for me right? Well it tuned out that my trainer says that 80% of the people in there hadn’t a clue of the proper and SAFE way to lift weights. They were basically doing what I had done! Just copying someone else’s bad moves. He showed me how I could get a lot more resistance (and effectiveness) out of using a lot less weight IF I used proper form. This would also decrease the likelihood of injury which can be a major concern for someone trying to get fit over 50.
Variety. Lastly I was glad to add some new exercises to my routine so that it wouldn’t be so routine. (ok, bad joke but you get the point) He gave me list of different exercises that I could do every day for 2 weeks and never repeat the same one unless I wanted to.
So bottom line? Will I continue to use the trainer? Probably. But not on a regular basis. I think it’s good to get a little professional advice occasionally no matter what your current fitness or fitness knowledge is. We can all learn a little something but for me I like flying solo so I’ll just make a plan to gt one session a month. Call it a tune up. I discussed this with the trainer and he was all right with it, thought it was a good idea considering I already have a consistent record of working out going on.
My suggestion to you would be to find a gym in your area that offers a free trail or maybe a single session purchase and give it a shot. I found it worthwhile even if I would have had to pay for it!
First let me be straight with you. This is NOT about losing 10 pounds over the next week or 30 days. As the title suggest it’s more of a simple approach that if done honestly WILL guarantee that you lose 20 pounds or more over the next year. Sure your results could come quicker if you simply tweeked the program a little but my intent is to make it as easy and “do-able” as possible.
Before we get into the details I’ll take a moment to share with you the over all picture so you can see what we’re up against and why making just a few simple changes in your every day living can add up to major weight loss over time.
What is “fat” anyway?
We all know that body weight or more specifically “fat” is the result of consuming more calories over time than you are able to “burn off”. One pound of body fat contains 3500 calories of energy. This is the body’s natural way of storing energy for future use. Of course in man’s early history when he spent a great deal of his time hunting, foraging and later working the land this stored energy or calories were constantly expended during the normal course of his day. Even in today’s world some people in really manually intensive occupations such as construction may burn as much as 500 calories in a single hour!
20 pounds = 70,000 Calories!
Okay so given that one pound of fat is 3500 calories 20 pounds would add up to 70,ooo calories! So even our aforementioned construction worker would have to work an extra 140 hours to lose 20 pounds without dieting. Seems like a lot right? But if he were to spread out this 140 hours over a years time it would be about 20 extra minutes a day!
Well believe it or not the same holds true for you. You see the key is the extra calories that we either burn or consume that really make all the difference. What’s “extra” for you of course isn’t the same as whats “extra” for the construction worker. He may use up 5000 calories a day on the job so any calories burned above 5000 would contribute to weight loss and anything consumed over 5000 calories would contribute to weight gain. Simple isn’t it.
The key is finding out how many calories YOU burn in the normal course of your day and how many you CONSUME. If you’re currently consuming more than your body needs to perform it’s daily duties than your next order of business is to either cut back and consume less or find ways to increase your expenditure or whats called your Basil Metabolic Rate.
If you’re over 50 and haven’t worked out in a while mastering the squat may be somewhat of a challenge but it’s first on the list for a very good reason.
Builds and strengthens the foundation – Squats target the largest muscle group of the body, the quads or thighs and glutes or butt. These muscles are called into use every day in normal activities that require lifting, pulling or pushing. They’re also important for maintaining balance. Strengthening these groups of muscles may help prevent falls and as an added bonus can help prevent osteporosis or porous bones that sometimes occurs when the bones grow weak with aging and become more susceptible to fractures and breaks.
Okay, so what’s the proper way to perform a squat?
At first for balance place a chair in front of you facing forward and place your hands on the back of the chair. You can also place a chair directly behind to prevent a fall when you go down and to keep the beginner from going down too far
You should be standing with feet about shoulder width apart
Your chest and stomach should be straight up and down with a slight curve in your back
Bend your knees, at first go only as far as you comfortably can, the goal is to eventually be able to go down until your thighs are a little past parallel to the floor.
Only using your legs, push back to the starting position. Use your grip on the chair only for balance unless you absolutely need to pull yourself up.
When you get better at it you will no longer need the chair. At this point you may even add some weight for more resistance.
For weight, use two milk jugs, dumbbells or whatever holding them at your sides as you squat.
Over the years I’ve lived in and traveled to many different places and whenever I found myself in any one place for any longer than I week I usually felt the need to locate a gym or fitness center. Luckily most gyms offer either a short term rate or even a free trial membership. This has given me the opportunity to go inside a lot of different facilities and I’d like to share with you what in my opinion makes some better than the rest.
Although the other items in this article are in no particular order this first item, Cleanliness, is at the very top of the list. Most places will look clean at first glance but make sure that the locker rooms are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Are there dirty towels lying around? Does it pass the sniff test? Are the mirror’s clean? The waste bins over-flowing.
In the workout areas does the facility provide sani-wipes to wipe down the equipment after each use? This is extremely important as most germs are transfered by hand contact. Oh and don’t forget to bring your shower shoes if you’ll be showering at the gym after your workout.
Equipment Condition and Availabilty
Is the equipment maintained and in good condition. Serious injury could occur by using faulty gym machines. Are there enough machines, barbells, and floor space for you to work out? I hate it when I have to wait for 20 or 30 minutes to get on an exercise bike or there is a line waiting to use a particular machine. I like to get in the gym, do my thing and get out. I know that for some it’s a good place to mingle and socialize and I have nothing against that but for me it’s all about the workout and getting fit. Which brings me to my next item.
Just because I don’t socialize at the gym doesn’t mean that I like a Spartan, no-nonsense type atmosphere. A lot of gyms have T.V.’s in them now and I’ve often been able to catch up on the news or watch a ball game while riding the bike or elliptical machine. I’ve also met some really nice people and even made a few good friends at me local gym. I think the atmosphere and tone is set by the management and staff which is important.
I’ve seen good gyms that could be a lot better if they had staff that understood the importance of good service. Instead of being out on the gym floor and available they hover around the main desk and seem to be more involved with each other than the gym patrons. The best staff is well trained in the latest in physical fitness and eager to help you reach your goals. I like the ones that are like good waitresses at a diner. Not always asking how they can help but seem to have a sixth sense about knowing when they’re needed.
Okay, I admit that now that I’m over 50 I think of these things but then again this blog IS about fitness over 50 and I have actually seen the availability of a heart defibrillator possibly save the life of one man at a gym. Wouldn’t have thought about it before that incident but now it’s one of the tings that I look for.
So what do you think is a must have for the right gym?