Do You Like What You See? Body Image & Exercise

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Have a look at the cover of the magazine in any newsagent  – and they are full of images of what they deem as the beautiful people.

Many will highlight which celebrities look amazing after losing loads of weight or put on muscle mass by following a particular diet or routine – but at the same time – will berate them for either putting on a little weight or looking too thin!

This is one of the hypocracies of magazines and everyone should be aware by now that most images are photoshopped to accentuate the best (or sometimes worst) aspects.

This is also true of a lot of before and after pictures that you see on adverts – even if they don’t use photoshop – a lot can be achieved by lighting and changing the size or fit of the clothing worn.

It’s unsurprising then that two thirds of adults have negative body image issues – for some it may be simply that there are one or two parts of their body they would like to change – for others this can become an obsession which they will try to resolve either through diet, exercise, surgery or all three!

34% of adolescent boys and 49% of girls have been on a diet to try and change their body or lose weight – even younger 1 in four 7 year olds worry about the way they look and have tried to lose weight at least once.

They are scary statistics and can lead to serious illnesses like anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia.

Working as a Personal Trainer in a public gym – I see it a lot of it to various degrees from stick thin girls spending hours on the stair-machine to finding steroid paraphernalia in the locker rooms…..

For clients  – as well as asking WHAT a person is looking to achieve, more importantly I like to know “WHY” they want to achieve it – is it to look like someone else? Is it FOR someone else? Or is it for their own health & well being?

This will help to determine if what they want IS achievable! For example – losing 2 stone in 4 weeks for someone weighing 12 stone is going to be extremely difficult. Whereas an expecation of losing (or gaining) or 1-2lbs per week would be more realistic and healthier.

A person’s diet, weight, gender, age, attitude and genetics are all important factors that need to be taken into account and a good PT will look at them all and should be honest and set realistic expectations of results.

All PTs should be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and body dysmorphia, and should approach the client with any concerns and refer them to a GP or counsellor if appropriate. We are always happy to listen to a your concerns and if you have any body issues be honest with us as this will also influence the dietary and exercise advice that we give.

The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation

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Relationships & The Gym

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Last week I looked at working out with a buddy but what if that buddy was your partner?

I know a lot of single people at the gym that have this relationship goal of finding a partner that will workout with them.

The assumption is that if they go the gym then they will look after their body. They will therefore have a great diet and an awesome physique to match (which then motivates you to do more too). Its easy to understand why and the sexual undertones in a gym can be quite apparent – hot sweaty bodies, minimal clothing, not to mention some of the exercises positions (especially when working out with partner) it can be easy to see the connection and why a number of singles can see the gym as place to find a partner.

I have heard and seen it happen from time to time – however the fantasy is often far removed from the reality.

Look around the gym and you soon realise that the members are all shapes, sizes and ages – the majority of whom are there to work-out not pick someone up. Their knowledge and passion for working-out and diet could be better or worse than your own. Striking up a conversation can also be difficult as most people will be wearing headphones and making inappropriate comments or advances in the gym is very much frowned up.

If however you are in a relationship and you both enjoy exercise at some point you will try going to the gym or a class together. For the majority this will only happen once or twice – as you soon realise that you may have different goals in terms of weight loss or muscle gain and different preferences for exercise type. I know very few couples that actually exercise together fully – and even here it’s not for every session.

For most – the closest to working out they get is that they enter and exit the centre together but will go their separate ways to do their own workout.

If your partner has little or no interest in exercise – relationships can also be the biggest barrier or excuse that people use to not work out. It could be due to time required (and being apart from your partner or family), fear that you may be looking at other people or it could be partly down to their lack of understanding why you go to the gym, or even jealous of your progress.

If you find yourself in this position – it is always best to talk this through with your partner to explain why you enjoy it, or indeed that you need to go if it’s illness or injury related,  and if necessary make sure that you always have time set aside when you are alone together.

Working out with your boyfriend or girlfriend does have it’s benefits – just like working out with a buddy – but you need to appreciate that you don’t need to do every exercise together – just the ones that match your individual goals and understand that you both have different limits/abilities so try not to make it competitive. My biggest tip would be to say that exercising together doesn’t need to involve the gym it could just be going for long walks or dancing in clubs.

Buddy-Up!

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This week I’ve been watching the folk at the gym the week and a lot of people do workout with their friends – most of them tending to work in pairs though the teenagers seem to roam the place the packs!

Working out with a friend can have huge benefits to your workout  and studies have shown that for the majority – having someone with you means that you tend to work harder.

This could be due to the support and motivation they give you as well as helping to “spot” you if you are lifting heavy weights and if they know their stuff – correcting bad technique. Especially true if your work-out partner is your Personal Trainer!

A gym buddy also helps improve your attendance at the gym as you are more obligated to go if you are working out with someone else.

A buddy can also bring new routines and ideas to your workout such as partner exercises and taking turns to work in between sets whilst the other one rests.

If you are new to fitness – going with a friend can help to overcome any potential embarrassment or anxiety you might feel and can help overcome boredom by having someone to chat to.

However, as I’ve heard a number of times, having a gym buddy can have it’s downsides – the most frequent thing I hear is how their buddy has “let them down” by not showing up or is late. If your friend can’t make a session for whatever reason, this is gonna impact you as it means you also feel less inclined to go.

It also restricts the timing of your workouts as you need to agree to a time that is suitable for you both and can take a lot of planning.

Some buddies who can become a distraction by being too chatty or less focussed and others may be the complete opposite and be really competition and jealousy can kick in

That being said working out with a friend can be both challenging and fun – especially if you lack motivation or don’t like working out alone.

The key is to find a buddy that shares your interests and goals – it’s a bit like dating – you may have to try a few before deciding if he or she is THE ONE!

Find a Buddy online here

Buddy workout routine

No Pain, No Gain – Scary Workouts

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Since it was recently Halloween – I’ve been having a look at the scariest workouts!

It’s easy to make any work-out appear more frightening by simply adding a lot of weight or huge increase in repetitions, but the hardest individual exercises I’ve found tend to be when you combine strength & balance.

For the upper body a Tuck planch push-up is pretty darned difficult! Here you crouch down, placing your hands on the floor and your knees outside of your elbows, you then lean forward to raise your feet off the ground so that your body weight is balanced on your hands  and its from this position that you try to do a push-up!

For your lower body a set of single leg box jumps with or without additional weights is a killer!

If your looking for a scarily tough workout a HIIT class like Metafit or Insanity can be absolutely brutal if performed at your max capacity and though they are only 30 minutes, I have seen some people go all out to the point of being nauseous!

For a more traditional weight lifting workout – for the uninitiated a Body Pump class combines weight-lifting to music when the focus is on high repetitions where I have seen grown men struggle to keep up with the volume (the key is to start light – not to use what you would usually lift in the gym!).  Cross-Fit is another frighteningly hard workout – here they focus on raw strength and endurance in a highly competitive session – beware of their Murph and Filthy Fifty workouts which are extreme to say the least.

To be fair, for a beginner, the world of health & fitness can be a pretty scary place – with so many different choices, sometimes conflicting advice, equipment and machines that look more like torture devices can be really overwhelming…..  but that’s why the instructors are here to help. We can show you around the machines and help you in deciding what kind of workout or class you would enjoy.

Once you start chatting to us you’ll see that the gym isn’t such a bad place after-all and your workouts can be challenging and fun at the same time.

 

My Halloween Themed HIIT Circuits Class:

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