One last thought about holiday presents and New Year's resolutions. Sometimes they go hand in hand, but occasionally, they're out of sync. During the past few months, “resolutioners” have flooded my club wearing their holiday gifts, intent on achieving their New Year's goal of better health.
For example, Laura* is a woman in her late 40s who spends plenty of time on the elliptical. Unfortunately, she hasn't dropped a pound — despite working out for half-hour stretches in stylish velour sweats worn by Hollywood stars 20 years her junior. Maybe the sweats don't inherently help get the body she is trying for, or maybe she needs to turn up the incline and hang up her new cell phone instead of chatting on it during her workout.
Sven*, a man in his early 20s, works out wearing a brand new blue suede power lifting belt around his waist. It is fitted for someone about to squat, deadlift and bench with an eye toward the World's Strongest Man title. Unfortunately, Sven's 14-inch arms struggle to curl 20-pound dumbbells. Luckily, his back is safe with the belt cinched as tight as it can be.
The main goal for Pete*, another new member, is to lose weight from his 300-pound, 5 — foot-10-inch frame. Unfortunately, the performance clothing he wears will fit better once he drops the weight. Perhaps part of the problem is the hour it must take to squeeze into his skin-tight tops. His intentions are good; his timing is just a bit off. This type of athletic wear made popular by the likes of Ray Lewis and other elite athletes loses something in the translation to regular guys like Pete.
Perhaps my favorite newbie is Fred*. Fred visits the gym regularly and has dropped a little bit of weight. However, if you looked at Fred, you'd think he was training for a marathon. Fred comes to the gym dressed in his business suit, and much like Superman, disappears into the locker room and emerges as his alter ego — GearMan**. Complete with a heart rate monitor, headband, wristbands, water bottle belt, an iPod strapped tightly to his arm and still way-too-white $150 running shoes, GearMan turns up the speed and incline on the treadmill, sings along with his iPod (who knew anyone had Hall & Oates on their iPod?) and turns different shades of red as he tries to keep up with the belt for his 20-minute workout. Then as quickly as he came, he turns back into mild-mannered Fred and grabs a shake on his way back to work.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am happy that each of these people is trying to get healthy. I hope they all achieve their goals and are members for years. However, they would have been better set for success if they had gotten some books on fitness and exercise — or better yet, a 10-pack of personal training sessions — rather than the unnecessary sweats, belts, apparel and gear. At least until they actually need them.
*Names not changed to protect the innocent. I actually don't know their names as I have my iPod (Metallica, not Hall & Oates) turned up and haven't really bothered meeting people in the club in the two-plus years I've worked out there.
**GearMan is not a real superhero. Please don't wait for him to save you from your local villain.