What comes to mind for you when you think of weight training? Do you think of a muscle laden, steroid-using, man-gorilla? Or perhaps only serious athletes or super models lift weights. Nope. Weight training is not just for vanity or sports performance enhancement. Many studies have confirmed that weight training has many health benefits.
Benefits of longterm weight training include:
- Increased bone density
- Decreased heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
- Positive changes in glucose metabolism
- Increased balance and strength
But perhaps you’re intimidated when you walk by the weight machines and especially the free weights. Well, I’d like to suggest two ways to overcome the intimidation of the weights, and turn your fear into pleasure. Work out with a trainer at least a few times. Weight training can be greatly beneficial, but if done incorrectly, it can result in great injury. A pulled muscle, torn tendon, or back strain can be extremely painful. A few sessions with a personal trainer will help you to learn proper form and help you feel comfortable with the free weights and resistance machines available at your gym.
From that point, knowledge is power. Furthermore, if you have an appointment with a trainer, you’ll be far less likely to talk yourself out of going to the gym or letting petty excuses get in the way. I used to be a personal trainer. People paid me a lot of money to teach them to to work out, keep them motivated, monitor their progress and think up new workouts to keep them interested. After having three kids, I feel as if I’ve lost a few IQ points and now I want someone to keep ME motivated, and tell me what to do so that I don’t have to think about it.
So I traded in the weight room for the classroom and get my weight training in a one hour class called BodyPump. Every gym has a class akin to this, though the names may be different. Essentially, this hour-long class has one or two instructors who get you lifting weights to music. Each song is choreographed to work a specific muscle group. For example, an entire song may be dedicated to bicep work, and another song focuses on hamstrings. By the end of the hour you’ve worked every major muscle group: quads, hamstrings, abs, biceps, triceps, chest, back, and shoulders.
There’s a real estate adage about what’s important in the purchase of a property that says, “Location, Location, Location.” Well, when it comes to the gym, I’d like to coin an adage about what will keep you in a healthy gym attendance routine. That is, “Motivation, Motivation, Motivation.” Here are three ways that taking a pump class can motivate you.
Motivation: When you’re in a room of 15 to 30 other people, even if you want to quit, you’re too intimidated to stop until the end of the song.
Motivation: When you’re in a class you feed off the energy of the songs, the instructors and the others ‘in the trenches’ with you. Since you’re having fun, the time goes by faster, and you’re motivated to come back next time.
Motivation: The best way to sculpt your shape is weight training. You can run a marathon, take a bunch of aerobics classes, and diet to lose inches. But when it comes to shape there’s almost nothing like weight training. When you start to see definition in your arms, legs and/or abs, you will be motivated to come back for more!
Just about everyone can do weight training. In the pump classes at the Roxborough Y, regular attendees include college-age girls, a few grandmas and everyone in-between. The older gals may only use 3lb or 5lb weights, but they’re still there and one of the regulars is over 70 years old and doing great. Other locations with similar classes include Intoxx Fitness, Sweat and LA Fitness.
Finally, I will offer one caution. Weight training can tear muscles or throw out a back if done incorrectly. If you’re new to it, let the instructor know before class so that they’ll take more time to go over proper form before each song. Proper form is key for a healthy workout. A general rule of thumb is that if you feel strain in your lower back, you’re doing something wrong. Remember that much and you’ll do well.