By Ashley Spegel
Remember all those tasty holiday goodies that you devoured over the break? Well, they’ve all gone to your tummy, ass and thighs and you can’t fit into the new pair of jeans you got for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and/or Festivus.
Getting in shape is one of the most common resolutions for those hoping to make 2007 a better year. But sticking to your pledge for all 365 days is harder than pumping 100 lbs of iron.
Luckily, the Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC) offers highly specialized and knowledgeable personal trainers to help you safely tone up your bod.
“The importance of a personal trainer is to build up the individual’s motivation,” said Patrick Williams, a personal trainer at the RAC.
A personal trainer also teaches you how to use the weight and cardio machines, and educates you on how to target specific muscle groups so you’ll be able to see and feel the results.
“On average, members with a personal trainer will stay three to five months longer than a new member without one,” said Jeff York, a fitness coach at Bally Total Fitness on Bloor Street.
“It makes exercising easier for beginners and they’re less intimated.” A frequent mistake made by newbie gym-goers is improper technique.
Williams suggests this is because the majority of people aren’t properly isolating the few muscles they should be, leading to a lack of coordination and an incorrect distribution of weight over many muscles that can cause injuries.
But if you don’t want to shell out the money for a personal trainer (the RAC charges from $45 for one session to $560 for 20 sessions), here are some tips on how to use gym equipment safely and effectively.
When using the treadmill, make sure you’re able to walk or jog without having to hold on to the handlebars. If you’re holding on to the machine, it means you’re moving at a pace that is too fast and strenuous.
It won’t be an effective workout. “With cardio machines, many don’t set them up properly and the intensity is set too high,” said Williams. “Specifically with the cycles in the cardio room, the person’s foot position is incorrect.
They fail to properly bend at the leg and maintain proper posture.” In general, increase the intensity of cardio machines gradually so that your body can adjust to the speed.
Also, remember to breathe when lifting weights, and always start off with lighter weights so you don’t over-exert yourself.
The most important thing that new gym members should know is to start off slow and gradually build up your stamina, instead of going at it like a jackrabbit and burning out before you’re finished the workout.
“The ‘resolutionaries’ fall off their path because it’s too much, too soon,” said Williams. “You have to take it slow to get to your goal without strain or else you’ll fallout faster.”
Sometimes you need that extra motivation to slap on that spandex and go to the gym. Don’t let the line-up of students coiled around the RAC discourage you from buying a membership or personal training package.
Most resolution-driven students drop out by the end of February, making more room for you to flex and stretch your hammering muscles.
“It’s always really busy inside the RAC between the beginning of January to mid-February,” said Renee Delaire, a customer service representative at the RAC.
“Once mid-terms hit and the resolutionaries stop coming, the high traffic tapers off and it dies down.”
So rather than dropping the gym from your weekly schedule, seek the guidance and experience of a personal trainer and drop those holiday pounds instead.