The price to pay for fitness


  • Business
  • Saturday, 28 May 2011

There are many options to getting fit from joining a gym to working out independently.

ONE day, just out of curiosity, you pull out your dusty weighing scale from under your bed to see how much you weigh. To your horror, you discover two things - firstly, the needle on the scale indicates that weight-wise, you're anatomically equivalent to a baby elephant.

Secondly, and probably just as bad, you realise that you can't see your feet any more - thanks to your bulging waste line!

On a more serious note, if this sounds even remotely familiar to you, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone.

For those already hearing alarm bells, they can decide to do two things - spend money registering at a gym to get rid of the “excess baggage,” or save on the gym membership and try losing the weight on their own.

So which is the better option?

Joining a gym

Wong Yu Jin, who is a nutritionist and wellness coach, believes that enrolling in a gym is a great move but adds that its environment is not something many people can thrive in.

“It really depends on your preference. You need to ask yourself if the gym is the kind of place you would like to get fit in. This is important because gyms typically sign people up for long-term contracts. The longer (the deal) the cheaper the monthly fees,” he tells StarBizWeek.

John Anthony, who is the manager-cum-trainer at Kepong Baru-based Universe Gym says that not all gyms are contract-based.

“Training in a gym also means that you will be better supervised on the right way to exercise and this can help prevent injury.”

Wong, however, notes that enrolling in a gym does not qualify a member automatically for coaching from a certified trainer.

“You have to pay extra for it. If you do pay for trainers, you will get a lot more benefit such as risk factors, programmes designed to suit your needs and proper techniques.

“It is worthwhile to pay for a qualified and experienced trainer as it will give you a foundation for a lifetime of training. Not everyone can afford it though.”

Of course, the biggest benefit of joining a gym is to stay healthy, says John.

“Spending money to join a gym can help you better cope with health related issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes and heart problems. It is only a small investment compared with the expensive hospital bills you may end up paying later on in life for neglecting your health.”

Exercising on your own

Retired physical education teacher Azhar Mahmood believes that joining a gym is not a must, adding that there are various indoor and outdoor activities one could do, either alone or with friends.

“Walking, jogging, skipping rope or cycling are among the outdoor activities you can do on your own or with a friend and it doesn't have to cost you anything,” he says.

“If you have friends playing games such as badminton, football or basketball are cheap activities which can be done anywhere be it in a public hall or a field.”

Azhar also notes that outdoor activities such as tai chi and qi gong are popular outdoor activities, especially among senior citizens.

Sit-ups, squats, push-ups can be done anywhere and if you're willing to spend a bit of money, you can invest in simple exercise equipment like dumb bells, light weights or exercise DVDs.

With the Internet, exercise DVDs are practically obsolete.

“There's a wealth of information on the web on simple, non-strenuous exercises you can do to stay fit. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and articles with pictures on the net on how to go about these exercises the right way.”

Wong says the obvious benefit of exercising on your own is cost savings and the flexibility of not following time or classes.

“However, if you are serious about starting a proper programme, it is highly advisable to hire a personal trainer. You can explore hiring a personal trainer who is not attached to gyms.

“Alternatively, you can get a friend who is experienced to coach you and buy him dinner.”

While light cardiovascular exercises such as jogging, cycling or swimming can be done without the need for professional supervision, he advises those engaging high-resistance training or exercises to build muscles to get a personal trainer or join a gym.

John feels that the issue of commitment is the biggest problem for those exercising on their own.

“The benefits of exercising on your own is that you can save money but many never keep up with it. A lot of people invest in fitness equipment for their homes and are initially excited but get bored fast.

“Eventually, the equipment is discarded in their store room or is used to hang clothes.”

John, who occasionally organises outdoor exercises classes, says many people don't commit for long.

“From the experience I have in conducting group exercises in parks or playgrounds, I find that over time, the response starts to dwindle.”

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