Getting the most from your workout

I’m currently reporting a story, scheduled to run the end of the month in the Observers (News & and Charlotte), on why you shouldn’t get discouraged after your first month of working out because you haven’t dropped 10 pounds. There are valid reasons you may not lose weight immediately; there are also more pertinent indicators of improving health to watch during your initial days of a more active lifestyle. Again, more about that at month’s end. I will, however, share two quick personal observations based on my month-and-a-half in the gym about how to get the most out of your gym workout.

Take a group class. I can go to the gym, exercise for an hour my own and feel like I’ve gotten a good workout. Or, I can take an hour-long class and emerge grateful I can still move. Prime example: I’ve become a bit of a weather wimp as the years advance and am less enthusiastic about riding by bike in 20-degree weather. So I started taking what my gym, Lifestyle Family Fitness, calls an RPM class, what other gyms might call a spin class or group cycling. The first class I wasn’t sure I’d last through the first of five tracks. Out-of-the-saddle, climb a hill! Out-of-the-saddle, climb a mountain! Stay-in-the-saddle, climb mountain! Sprint! More gear! Attack! Nothing lasts more than 30 seconds, it’s constant change. And it is a great workout. After three weeks I ventured out on a ride and was surprised by how much stronger I was. That wouldn’t have happened riding an exercise bike while reading “Outside.”

Get a personal trainer. Same thing. I can go to the gym, play around for an hour on the weight machines, leave feeling sore and thinking I’ve done my job. Or, I can explain my fitness goals to a personal trainer, have him devise a training schedule for me, then have him run me through it once or twice a week. My wife and I hired a trainer who devised personalized routines for us based on our individual goals. After our first workout I was beat, the next morning I was sore in the oddest places. Ditto our second workout. And it doesn’t matter whether I’m working out with my PT or on my own, the results are the same. He’s created a series of varied workouts that each torment my body differently. Again, a much different experience than me going to the weight room and noodling on my own. That said, it’s important to find a PT that works for you. A tip or two from Consumer Search (a division of, which is owned by The New York Times). Recognize that this is a business transaction. Find out up front how much it’s going to cost and what you’ll be getting for your money. And if you’re contemplating a PT from your gym, scope out the available PTs to see how they work. Watch how they interact with their clients. Does their approach work for you? Remember you’re paying this person to help you get into shape, not to hear his/her stories of glories past.

More later in the month.

One thought on “Getting the most from your workout”

Leave a Reply