Everyone has their own individual reason for joining a health club, lose a few pounds, tone up, lower your blood pressure, strengthen a bad back or shoulder, perform better in sports, or just keep in shape by playing some basketball or racquetball.
By joining the gym you have shown a time, and a financial commitment to achieving your goals, congratulations!
However, joining the gym is only the first step.
Did you know that only about 2% of health club members actually use the gym?
Some gym member leave because they injure themselves and cannot work out, many others leave because of lack of results. The reasons are endless.
However, I have been a doctor for over eight years now, and I have seen new gym members come in with good intentions only to make the same common mistakes others made that set them up for failure, or an injury.
I am sure you must be wondering why I care about your goals for joining the gym.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as many as 250,000 lives are lost annually due to lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyles. That is 200,000 more than the number of lives lost as a result of car accidents, which are 50,000.
Most of the problems myself and other doctors are treating such as high blood, arthritis, chronic pain or stiffness, overweight, low energy, stress and tension are often the result of years of neglect. Most of these chronic problems could have been prevented with proper guidance. The good think is that many of these chronic problems can still be helped, again with proper guidance.
Hopefully, by sharing what I have seen over the years will help your achieve your health and fitness goals. So, here are the most common mistakes I have seen over the years which results in injury, or failing to reach their goals whether it is weight loss, muscle toning, rehabilitating an injury, getting of all those pain medications or whatever the reason was for initially joining a health club was.
Mistake #1: Not seeing a QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL before beginning an exercise program
This sounds like common sense right? Every piece of exercise equipment has a similar statement on it right? There is a reason for that, exercise can be harmful or even deadly, and I do not care if you think you are good shape. How many times have you known of someone suddenly passing away from a heart attack and you say to yourself, he looked so healthy.
So schedule an appointment with your primary doctor and have your blood pressure check, get your resting pulse rate, get your body fat tested, have your heart and lungs listened to, have your muscles, joints, and any injuries evaluated before you begin your exercise program.
If you do not want to schedule an appointment with your doctor, you can have these test done here for free, no additional charge, this exam is included with your membership.
Why, we want you to enjoy the gym and achieve your goals, but first we want you to be safe. It also does not look that good when you see gym members rolled out to the ambulance parked in front of the gym entrance. It happens. Call your doctor up or if you are in the Phoenix area stop by and see us.
Mistake #2: Not getting any Initial Baseline Numbers
Again, this goes back to mistake number 1. How can you monitor your progress if you do not know where your were when you stated.
If you are a little over weight or trying to lower you blood pressure, don't you think you should know what your blood pressure is before you begin your program. How are you going to monitor your weight loss if you do not know what percent of your body is fat, before you begin your program.
A brief note here, you know I mentioned percent of body fat and not weight. How much you weigh does not matter much, but your percent of fat does.
Lets say we have two overweight new gym members both weighing 200lbs. One joins the gym and is going to try use the scale to monitor his progress; the other stopped by our office and received their evaluation, which was included with their membership. At this evaluation we found that the second new member weighed 200lbs. And had a body fat percentage of 40%. This means that 40% of his body is made of fat 80lbs. The other 120lbs is what his muscle, bones, organs, etc. weigh, (everything but fat).
The member who received our evaluation used to work out, and was at one time in good shape, but over the years put on a few extra pounds and has not work out is some time. This member tried various was to lose the weight but was unsuccessful, this is the reason for finally join the gym. Since this member was really serious about losing weight they asked us if we could help. So, we set them us on a program.
Now it is a 6 weeks into the program and the new member who knew what their body fat was before starting on our program comes in for his follow up visits to monitor his progress and the first thing he says is, "doc I'm feeling better but the scale in the locker says I only lost 3lbs., I am frustrated."
However, at this follow up visit, we did see that he/she has lost 3lbs and know weighs 197lbs, but the percent of body fat dropped fro 40% to 36%. This works out to be 70lbs of fat he/she has now instead of the 80lbs before. This guy/gal actually lost10 lbs of FAT! The stuff we are trying to lose. Make sense?
What do you think happened to the member who was using the scale? Lets say somehow they achieved the same results as the member we just talked about, lost 3lbs according to the scale after 6 weeks. This person may be thinking, "three times a week for 6 weeks and a lousy 3 pounds!!" Are they going to keep using their membership? I know the gym is still charging their credit card.
Do you understand what I am taking about?
The same is true for what ever your goals are for joining the gym is, weight loss, muscle toning, rehabilitating an injury, getting off or reducing all of those medications you may be on, lowering your blood pressure, reducing your stress, increasing your endurance, what ever your reason was. You should know where you are at when you begin. See your doctor and get this done. If you want us to do it, we are here for you.
Otherwise how are you going to know if what your doing is working or not working, you need to keep doing what your doing or change your routine? This leads me in the third and last mistake
Mistake #3 Not on the right program
High carbs / low fat, low carbs / don't worry about the fats, low reps / high reps, this exercise will help your back / that exercise will hurt your back, and so on, and so on. Sound familiar?
This exercise and nutrition stuff can be real confusing. I see people everyday trying to lose weight, or strengthen an injury, and from the exercises I see them doing they are not going to get there. I usually do see them for long though they seem to disappear after a month or two.
Now that you know what your baseline numbers are (body fat is, blood pressure, etc), the next step is to get on an individual program that is right for you and your specific goals.
The best person to start with would be the doctor who first evaluated you before you started your program. If you have arthritis, a bad back, high blood pressure, or are overweight you should know exactly what you show and should not do.
Working out at the gym can do wonders for your health. If done correctly, exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce coronary artery disease, strengthen, improve your mood, help you deal with stress, increase your muscle tone, reduce chronic aches and pains, strengthen an injury, lose weight, if done correctly you can achieve the goals you have for joining the gym.
However, the gym can also make your little problem a real big one. I have seen, and treated, many people who have injured themselves working out. I have also seen many people trying to tone up or lose weight who are just simply following a program that will not work or may be harmful. These people stop coming to the gym, do not meet their goals, and keep paying their monthly membership dues.
Also, a little note, just because you see someone that looks like they are in shape does mean they are doing the exercises correctly.
So, make sure the person who is setting you up on your program is trained to customize an individualize program for your specific goals. Then, with this information you can begin your program without confusion. If you are interested in working with a personal trainer, this information can also be pasted on to them so they are aware what you should and should not be doing.
Mistake #4 Not having someone, other than yourself, monitor your progress
How are you going to know how you are doing if you do not have regular progress evaluations?
You should have someone rechecking your baseline numbers on a regular basis, blood pressure, percent body fat, etc. This person can also give you support and help you with any problems that might come up. Maybe a specific exercise causes you some pain, or you get a clicking noise in you shoulder when you do some exercises, that is not normal. You should have someone to help you with that.
Finally, have someone monitor your progress means you will be more likely to follow through with your program and meet you goal. Which, I assume is what you want to do.
If you avoid the 4 mistakes above you will be able you achieve you goals or your reason form joining this health club.
Please feel free to publish this article in your Newsletter or on your Website (with Resource Box Included).
About The Author
Dr. Jeffrey Banas is a Chiropractic Sports Physician, practicing in Mesa; AZ. Dr. Banas personally lost 60 pounds in 2003 and now uses his experience to help others struggling with their weight problems. Dr. Banas can be reached at his office at 480-633-6837, or by visiting his web site at http://www.sportstraining-weightloss.com