Read any article about weight-loss tips or healthy living and you will undoubtedly find a line in it that knocks the so-called “fancy gym.”
It might say something like:
“You don’t need a fancy gym membership to get in shape.”
“Fancy gym memberships won’t take off the pounds.”
“Who needs to go to a fancy gym when staying active is as simple as lacing up your sneakers and hitting the road. ”
These statements are true, to a certain degree. No one needs the new iPhone, the NFL Sunday Ticket, the state-of-the-art laptop, or the leather sectional when the wool one was just fine. These upgrades might make your life more fun or more comfortable, but these are wants, not needs (although my husband might beg to differ about the NFL Sunday Ticket).
But where emotional and physical well-being are concerned, I have absolutely no problem with admitting that I am deeply in love with my “fancy gym.”
I have belonged to and visited other gyms. And while the experiences haven’t been terrible, these other establishments do not hold a candle to the environment, support, and facilities of Midtown. It’s the atmosphere of Midtown that has made it so much easier to attain my fitness goals.
At Midtown, if I have a question about how to work a machine, I can find a fitness attendant or personal trainer within seconds who is willing to drop everything to help me. They are highly visible. They are incredibly knowledgeable. And they have never, ever made me feel like my question was unimportant or silly, even when my question was, “Um, how do you start this Arc Trainer?” and the answer was, “See this large, green QuickStart button? Press it.”
At Midtown, I can work out, have lunch, take a tennis lesson, attend a yoga class, and get a massage, all without ever leaving the grounds. And on my way out, I can skip the Starbucks run by grabbing an iced coffee in the cafe. Considering my schedule is anything but flexible, having everything under one roof is very convenient.
At Midtown, my children are able to enjoy 4,000 square feet of Pure Kiddie Heaven in Kidtown, where they are enthusiastically greeted by name every time we arrive by the friendly, energetic, warm, and helpful associates who work there. My 21-month-old twins love the people who work in Kidtown so much that they yell the name of their favorite staff member the minute I push them through the door in the stroller. Where once they clung to me and cried, they now practically trip over their own feet to rush into the play area, leaving me in their Cheerio-laden dust. They love being there because the staff members take the time to make each experience a joy for them. And this makes my workouts all the more productive because I do not have to worry about them for one second.
At Midtown, the staff I’ve met ask me about my training. They’ve offered me tips to improve. They are genuinely interested in me and my progress. And the staff members I do not know personally are always supremely friendly and accommodating. Encouragement means everything when you’re training for a solo-sport event, like a marathon or half-marathon.
At Midtown, the facilities are always clean. There are towels on the racks at all times, the rugs and floors are grime-free, and the locker rooms and bathrooms are spotless, even during high-volume times. The club does not have the funky gym smell I immediately noticed in other clubs. Working out in a clean club makes a difference. It helps me enjoy my time there, and it encourages me to stay longer.
At Midtown, I have never had to wait for a treadmill. I’ve only ever had one instance where a machine wasn’t working. The treadmills and ellipticals are replaced every year, even if they’re in perfect working order, to ensure the best experience for the members using them.
At Midtown, the pool is an oasis, especially in the hot summer we’re experiencing in Rochester. I don’t belong to a country club, but I’d imagine the atmosphere is similar to the one in the outdoor pool area, minus the pretension.
I’m always with at least one of my young children, but that doesn’t stop me from looking longingly at the people reading on lounge chairs, or enjoying a glass of wine with friends under the umbrellas, and thinking, “Someday, that will be me. It may be 18 years from now, but one day, that will be me!”
At Midtown, the opportunities to make new friends and business contacts abound. From tennis socials to Sunshine Yoga on the Great Lawn to PowerNet meetings, for me, belonging to Midtown has been about gaining a new community of like-minded individuals. And it’s a community to which I feel lucky to belong.
And this is why you’ll never find me knocking my “fancy gym.”
How does your membership make a difference to your fitness goals?
This month’s “Ask the Trainer” post features Midtown personal trainer Dave Statt, whom I asked most of the questions I received from last month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
Dave has been at Midtown for 19 years, and holds an M.S. in Exercise Physiology. He is a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. His recent personal accomplishments include competing in the Musselman Triathlon and being a two-time finisher of the Adirondack Canoe Classic (AKA “The 90-Miler”).
Kristi: Tell me about your background and how you became interested in personal training.
Dave: I began lifting weights at age 12, and haven’t stopped since! I began college with the goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher, but I soon realized I loved training and science, so I switched my major to Exercise Physiology. My job is very fun. I enjoy helping clients develop a passion for exercise and achieving fitness goals.
Reader Question: “I am training to run a half-marathon in September, but don’t want to give up my regular yoga practice. What is a good balance? I try to go to 3-5 yoga classes a week.”
Dave: 3-5 yoga classes per week is too much. I would do two per week, and then do two full-body stretch sessions, which may include static and dynamic stretches that are running-specific. In general, yoga is a workout so you have to take that into account with all of the running so you don’t over-train.
Reader Question: “There was a discussion on Facebook awhile back about the ideal number of days to work out per week. Some people said they worked out 4 days, some 5, some all 7. What’s the right answer, and is it possible to work out too much?”
Dave: Frequency of workouts depends on many factors. The more intense you train, the more days off you need. It is a difficult question to answer. You have to listen to your body and if you’re feeling worn down, then take a day off. It also depends on what you are doing. I recommend strength-training 3x per week and cardio 4x per week, but you can do those on the same days as well. I would not train 7 days per week. Always take a day off.
Reader Question: “Which cardio machine at the club is best for burning fat and losing weight?”
Dave: Any cardio machine that uses a lot of muscle groups is most effective at challenging the heart and metabolic system. Here are the cardio machines that are best in terms of calorie expenditure in order from most effective to least effective:
1) Running on treadmill
2) Step mill
4) Cybex Elliptical
6) Precor Elliptical with upper body
7) Precor Elliptical without upper body
Reader Question: “If you could design a nutrition plan for a 40-something male who wants to lose about 50 pounds, what would it include?”
Dave: That is a difficult question to answer on a blog. You may want to meet with a nutritionist or trainer that can assess your current status to provide you with a thorough program.
Reader Question: “I’ve been reading a lot about sports drinks lately. Some research says they’re good for refueling after exercise, while others say water is best. What do you think?”
Dave: The best time to refuel for enhanced recovery is within 30 minutes of completing an intense workout. The fuel should be a 4-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Some drinks meet those requirement (e.g. some new products made by Gatorade, Endurox, and even chocolate milk). Water is best for hydration, but not for refueling. They are different. Always rehydrate. Sports drinks are not bad, but some are full of sugar and unneeded calories.
Thank you, Dave!
If you emailed me a question and don’t see it answered here, it will appear in next month’s “Ask the Trainer” post.
As for the rest of you, don’t be shy! If you have a question you would like one of the gods or goddesses of the Fitness department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or email it to me at email@example.com. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question.
As a young child, I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s huge, in-ground pool. I was leaping off the diving board with an old-school, plastic swimming bubble strapped to my back around the age of five, and swimming bubble-free in the deep end around the age of six or seven. Uncoordinated and nonathletic on land, I was fearless and confident in the pool.
And this summer, I wanted to encourage my almost-four-year-old daughter to love swimming as much as I had. I had heard from many fellow club members that the preschooler swimming lessons were fantastic because they gave kids two solid, uninterrupted weeks of pool time with top-notch instructors. Unlike other swimming programs in the community that offer lessons once a week, the lessons at Midtown take place on four consecutive days each week, with the fifth day (Friday) set aside for makeup lessons or for further instruction if your child needs it. Each person that I talked to told me that her child had learned an incredible amount and had made significant improvements in swimming ability through the lessons.
The rave reviews sold me, and as soon as the Summer issue of Spirit came out, I paged through until I found the schedule, and signed up my daughter, who had been in pools often but who had never experienced any formal instruction.
On the first day, we met her instructor who was warm, welcoming, and very brave to take on the task of teaching preschoolers how to swim. Three-and-four-year-olds sometimes have the attention spans of gnats, and getting them to follow you is a bit like herding cats. I had no idea how my daughter would react to her instructor, to being in the water, or to being told what to do by someone she just met.
But now, a week after her lessons have ended, I can say unequivocally that the lessons were fantastic and a huge success.
Here’s what I loved:
The water temperature was always perfect. The instructors did not have to waste anytime coaxing the kids into the water because it was too cold. The kids got right in and were eager to get started. In addition, the depth of the Intermediate pool is exactly right for lessons. 2 feet, 6 inches is the perfect depth for a preschooler to move around comfortably, and without fear of the water level being too high for their bodies.
Fundamentals were first. One of the first things the kids worked on was their kicks. They would grasp the edge of the pool and when the instructor said “Splash me!”, they would kick like crazy. At the beginning of the lessons, my daughter would only kick with one leg, leaving the other firmly planted at the bottom of the pool for balance and security. By the end of the first week of lessons, she was a two-leg-kicking fool.
The lessons were fun and the kids were excited about participating.The noodles (used for floating while practicing kicks and arm movements) were a big hit, as were the boards. They did “Ring-Around-The-Rosey,” “London Bridges,” and jumping games.
There was no pressure to participate. If a child was unsure about a particular activity (for my daughter, it was jumping in by herself), then he or she didn’t need to do it. The instructors encouraged them, but did not force them or pressure them in any way.
The multiple-instructor format.I don’t think my daughter’s class was meant to have several different instructors during the course of the two weeks, but while some parents saw this as a negative, I saw it as a positive. Each instructor had her own style. While some were nurturing and sweet, others were more firm and direct in their instruction, and my daughter benefited from both of these styles.
One-on-one instruction.There were different points throughout the lessons where the instructor would give individualized attention to each child. With the other kids practicing their kicks or hanging on to the side, the instructor would take each child out into deeper water and help her float on her belly or her back, practice “scooping” the water with her hands, and near the end of the lessons, combine skills (bubbles, kicking, scooping) to “swim” on her own.
Here’s what my daughter can do now that she couldn’t do before:
Blow bubbles in the water while floating on her belly.
Kick with both legs simultaneously.
Go underwater completely, while blowing bubbles out of her nose.
Use her arms in the water for something other than splashing me in the face.
My daughter won’t be tackling an Iron Man anytime soon. She will not jump into the pool on her own without holding onto my arms, although several kids in her class did this enthusiastically. She’s not quite a natural in the water and would still prefer to play than practice what she learned in her lessons.
But she’s three. And next year, when the summer rolls around, I’m signing her up for another round of lessons. I couldn’t be more happy with her first lesson experience at the club.
When my husband and I were married in 2001, I was about 25 pounds heavier than I am now. Not quite at my heaviest weight (that would come a few years later), I had been steadily piling on the pounds since college, when I spent time eschewing meat but not Doritos.
Apparently, I was not alone in eating my way through the first few years of marriage. An interesting NYT article details the results of a recent study of 12,000 married women and men ages 18 to mid-forties. It was discovered that compared with when they were single, married men’s BMI rose 1.5 percent above what they would normally gain through age, and women’s BMI rose 2 percent.
In another study, it was found that those who were married or living together were much more likely to be obese than those who were dating.
Reasons for the weight gain in the “happily coupled” make complete sense to me. Socializing with other couples is often done over meals. Cuddling on the couch lends itself to often-unhealthy snack foods. And perhaps most significant is the comfort factor. The days of working the bar or club scene, of preparing yourself for hours beforehand, and of agonizing over every bit of exposed flesh are over. You’ve snagged your partner for a lifetime, and you no longer have to worry about maintaining a perfect physical appearance at all times because Mister or Miss Right could be examining packages of organic peas in the freezer section of Wegmans when you made the mistake of running in for milk wearing sweat pants and a ratty t-shirt.
However, I’m not so sure the so-called “love chub” is a good thing. Of course it’s great to feel confident that your partner will love you no matter what you look like, and physical appearance certainly should not become the focus of a couple’s life together, but I also think maintaining health and fitness for yourself as well as for your partner is also quite important.
I have no delusions that I still look like the 25-year-old I was when my husband and I got married. I have had three children and my body, while slimmer than my 25-year-old one, is still different than the one I had in graduate school. I have many more gray hairs, wrinkles in places I’d rather forget, and I’m more susceptible to running injuries than I ever was before.
But I work out 5-6 days a week. I’m training for a half-marathon. I eat relatively healthfully, and while I won’t be beating Jillian Michaels in an arm-wrestling competition any time soon, I like to think that my overall health and fitness is pretty good. And while I do this primarily for myself, I know my husband appreciates it too.
What do you think about married/serious relationship weight gain? Is “love chub” important to lose, or do you think of it as a small price to pay for a committed relationship?
Do you work out with your spouse or partner? Is exercise and a healthy lifestyle something that’s a shared part of your relationship, or something that you mainly pursue on your own?