At this time of year, my inbox fills with requests from magazines to provide them with tips on how to get people exercising again after their chilly winter hiatus. Inevitably, each year's tips are pretty much the same as the previous year's. You know the kind of thing: check out the specials at your local gym, find yourself a training buddy, get yourself a new outfit.
But this year, I've noticed a development that has forced me to rethink the way we approach exercise. Let me explain.
Our participation levels at health clubs and gyms over the past few years have been increasing, and the rise has been at roughly the same rate as that of our obesity levels. I know the issue is more complex than that, but the numbers are chillingly similar. If I was being totally cynical, I might argue that the two were linked in some way.
Which, of course, seems nuts. We would like to think that as more of us started exercising regularly, our obesity levels would show a proportionate reduction. But once you add in the increase in the availability of high-kilojoule food and drinks, it becomes clear that those benefits of weight loss and fitness are less likely to happen.
But there's another factor involved in this equation, and coming from a gym background I think I'm well positioned to comment on it. You see, while gym staff work very hard to make sure that your visits to their establishments are enjoyable – clean surroundings, good classes, qualified instructors and trainers – that won't necessarily mean you get the results you want.
If you want a specific outcome – weight loss, increased fitness levels or whatever – be prepared to make your own arrangements. A gym can offer a memorable fitness experience, but it can't make you train harder, push your limits or ensure you reach particular goals.
So if you are hitting the gym this spring, have a think about what you want to get out of your membership. If it is a specific outcome, get help in the form of a trainer, join a group challenge or sign up for an event with complementary goals. Make that gym membership work for you.
Get a personal trainer and be specific about the outcomes you want, or maybe join an in-house fitness-event promotion, such as training for a fun run, or a weight-loss challenge, if your health club is running one. If they're not, why not suggest they do?
From: Sunday Life