Where Many Fitness Programs Fall Short (and How to Spot the Ones That Don't)

With the desire for a healthier and more fit 2017, many are exploring local fitness programs and various gyms to see what might finally be the magic bullet to get rid of their holiday belly and booty. Gyms are counting on the January influx of memberships as it's the busiest time of year for signing up new members. 

With so many new faces, I want you to ensure that you actually get the best service from a new fitness program and your new gym doesn't take advantage of you because you're there at a time when they expect you to be there. 

First, I'll share with you where many programs fail their new members. Second, I'll explain what you'll get from an experienced-money-well-spent-program. 

Four Ways Many Fitness Programs Fall Short

1. By Failing to Evaluate you. 

They don't evaluate your flexibility or range of motion. They don't identify and create a plan to fix a weak or dysfunctional CORE or movement pattern. 

2. By throwing you to the dogs.

If the very first thing they do is throw you into a group class with little-to-no experience, and want to see how you well you do, get out of there immediately. 

3. By failing to give you exercises based on your current fitness level. 

Sit-ups, for example, you think would be a simple enough exercise almost anyone can accomplish. However, the person with a weak Transverse Abdominis (the natural girdle muscle) will gain no benefit in a sit-up and cause more dysfunction. A poor sit-up will have the belly popping out during the movement. The TVA should be drawing in. There are COUNTLESS examples of this type of thing going on, especially in group fitness programs. 

4. By failing to teach proper mechanics PRIOR to adding weight to the exercise.

Oh yeah, this is a big one. Very prevalent. Adding weight to a squat (such as a back squat) without having all the right mechanics and flexibility of a squat first. THIS. WILL. CAUSE. KNEE. INJURIES. Work on perfecting your squat first by performing the squat with just you, no added weight. Find the restriction, find the weakness, and address it with accessory exercises (like a physical therapist might give) and with soft tissue and joint mobilizations. 

Four Essentials of a Great Fitness Program

1. They Evaluate your flexibility, your limitations, and they start your plan here. 

This may or may not come with a package, but it is essential because everyone's body is unique. The results of this evaluation will be a starting place for your plan. Identifying dysfunction- such as chronically tight pecs and taking care of it with proper lengthening and strengthening- will prevent shoulder pain and possible injury down the road. If this person performs a lot of push-ups before addressing this issue, shoulder pain WILL be the end result. 

2. They care about where you want to go with your goals.

Want to lift twice your body weight? Or lose weight? Or maybe you just want to be able to carry your damn groceries from the car to the kitchen without getting so winded. Don't let them tell you what you want or what your goals should be. Whatever your goals are, they'll create a way to help you track it. How many bags of groceries? What's your heart rate when you put them down? Photos, measurements, and performance in a desired activity are great ways to track your progress. If you're uncomfortable with anything they want you to do, you have the power to say, "No."

3. They'll scale movements appropriately.

Like we talked about above, they'll begin by teaching the proper mechanics of a movement. A strong plank is needed for a good push-up. Glute activation and aligned knee tracking is necessary for a good lunge (or knee will dive in). If a more difficult, dynamic movement can't be accomplished well they should give you a substitute that not only can you accomplish well, but will address the issue at hand (i.g. a step-up will strengthen and prepare the glutes for a proper lunge).

4. They offer other services or have specialists other than just fitness training. 

They have a nutritionist for you to work with; or they have an in-house massage therapist; or a specialist for your particular age group; or a specialist for your particular fitness level (i.g. post heart attack, pregnant, or even elite athlete). If you are recovering from shoulder surgery and you've JUST completed your physical therapy, maybe don't join a hard core gym. Find the happy medium that won't program handstand push-ups for you. 

If you are in the Asheville area, Mandi is accepting new clients for in-home personal fitness and health coaching. To schedule a free consult, please click here for more info. http://insighthealthcoach.com/contact/