OK, it is summer so I’m taking it a little easy by dispensing some pretty rudimentary advice. Try to see past the simplicity of each response and search for the underlying truth.
Happy to expound on any of these snippets if you feel I’ve spread myself a little thin.
Q: Which workout is the best for getting you into shape?
A: Simple, whatever workout you are willing and capable of doing.
Q: What’s the best way to lose weight?
A: A diploma and a degree have qualified me to answer this question – eat less, move more. Twenty-five years working with people however tells me that it’s less about what goes in your mouth or what you do in the gym that determines overall health. It’s how you think. Thinking differently is the best formula for weight loss. If you treat exercise like an appointment that you can’t break it will eventually become a habit. If you treat eating like a budget, your calorie deficit will reap big rewards on the bathroom scale.
Q: I started exercising and I gained weight.
A: Yup – absolutely. You regain muscle quickly which is somewhat ‘weighty’. Fat loss comes later. Be careful not to eat the calories that you’ve just burned. Protein shakes have become a dangerous post-workout ‘necessity’ that may not be necessary!
Q: Is Crossfit better than Zumba for building muscle and losing weight? Does Boot Camp trump Aquafit for building overall fitness?
A: More often than not the answer is staring you in the face. If the word extreme, hard-core, Olympic or jock is imbedded in the program description, chances are the activity is focused on performance and results. Descriptors such as gentle and wacky, not so much. Start where you are comfortable – if the descriptor doesn’t fit, doubt the program will.
Q: I’m a relative beginner and saw the word extreme imbedded in the program description. Is the program right for me?
A: Put it this way, I have never mountain climbed before – doubt I would register for the Extreme Fingertip Cliff Hanging Challenge. Gotta crawl before you walk. Some people need the T-shirt though. Your call.
Q: Are free weights better than machines?
A: Depends. For propping open the door or for exercise? Both are great tools but free weights tend to be more ‘real world’ as they force the user to balance. Having said that, machines are more accessible and user-friendly for beginners.
Q: Everybody seems to be squatting and deadlifting these days. Has the trend been overdone?
A: Nope. These movements should be performed by everyone (insert medical caution here) because it’s what we were designed to do – squat by the fire and hoist harpooned hippos out of the swamp. Modern convenience has made us stiff, overweight and weak.
Q: I’m stiff, overweight and weak. Should I be squatting and deadlifting?
A: Just because you were designed to squat doesn’t mean it is on your bucket list. Moving and feeling better is a great start.
Q: Which is the better cardio equipment – Cross Trainer or Treadmill etc.?
A: You can drape your laundry more easily over the arm of a treadmill. For some, Cross Trainers have a low intimidation factor which is a good thing for beginners. If you want to enhance results, however, how you do it is as important as what you do. Select your cardio exercise of choice. After warming up, go as hard as you can for 30 seconds – 1 minute (if you still have some steam after a minute your intensity may have been set too low). Rest until your brain stops yelling at you to go sit down. Go again. Repeat 3-5 intervals if you can.
Q: You didn’t answer the last question.
A: A highly debatable and subjective topic but here is my personal list ordered from best to not so best: climbing/running stairs (or hop on a Power Mill if you have access to one – it’s an expensive set of moving stairs), Arc/SPARC Trainer, Spin Bike, Rower, Treadmill … Cross Trainer. There is a physiological reason for the above order. Call or email if you want details.
Thanks to everyone who has emailed questions and offered helpful feedback. Keep moving!