It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the amount and type of exercise we do every week makes a big difference to our health, our energy levels and importantly, our mood.
At my stage of life (the over 40s, getting to fifties and the ‘we are fifties’) I meet lots of women who realise they are not that happy with the way they feel or the way they look and their response is to go and either, join a gym or sign up with a personal trainer once a week.
I am not a massive advocate of either option. Don’t get me wrong – I know that at our life stage in an ideal world, us women ought to be doing resistance type training to strengthen our bones, amongst other benefits. But it’s about financial priorities, it’s about understanding the benefits we can get from a 30 minute per week PT session and it’s about looking at other cheaper options that might actually reveal the same or greater benefits.
Let me explain:
Should You Join a Gym?
Most people join a gym spending perhaps $20 per week or more and then find little or no time or motivation to attend the gym. It can be tough to suddenly sign up to a gym class you have never done before, where you know no one and then notice that the average class participant has spent at least $1000 in Lululemon in the last month. Worse, whilst you are puffing and panting away trying to bend past your waist, she is pushing 10kg weights up to the ceiling whilst doing the splits and not even showing the teeniest bit of sweat. As you find less and less motivation to attend the gym you forget (or feel too guilty) to cancel your gym membership and the $20 per week continues – now I know what I would rather be spending $1040 per year on – don’t you?
What about signing up to a weekly PT session?
Having a weekly arrangement with another human will keep you motivated won’t it? Well yes – it might. BUT – there are several issues to consider.
a) The expense – one session per week with a PT is likely to be as much as $60 for 30-45 minutes.
b) The experience level of the PT – not all PTs (sadly) are masters of their craft – it’s relatively easy these days to obtain a PT qualification and we don’t want just any 20 something year old guy telling us to do squats and sit ups when he has no idea what your wonderful body is capable of nor what it has endured during pregnancies and life that may make these exercises tricky for us or worse, actually quite dangerous. Speaking as someone that suffered massive tummy muscle separation from two pregnancies within 9 months of each other at a mature age and subsequent surgery to sew them all back together I know that there are certain exercises I should never do – it might be nice if your PT took the time and had the skill to understand this too.
c) Your expectations of the weekly PT session – now call me sceptical BUT our generation have to understand that 1 exercise session a week is NOT going to change our shape or our mood or our health very much at all. I’m afraid it’s about what we eat, the quantities we eat and factors like the amount of alcohol we drink, that mainly dictate our health and shape and to counteract this – we need to exercise at least 3-4 times per week. If we have blown all our cash and motivation on a PT then we are not going to get anywhere near these goals.
Please don’t think I am having a rant at ALL PTs because I am not – there are some brilliant ones around (I attended a gym for 4 months where the PTs understood womens’ issues brilliantly and took great care of all Mums) so all I am saying – is know WHY you may want to work with a PT, CHOOSE your PT carefully and BE CLEAR what you want out of it.
So What Do You Suggest?
What’s wrong with the GREAT OUTDOORS? We have the best exercise facility available to us on our doorstep. Getting outside and walking, running, cycling alone or with friends can help us achieve many things for NO MONEY – a mood lift, stronger muscles, better endurance and fabulous friendships.
But I don’t run or cycle I hear you say?! No – many of us don’t anymore or maybe never have. So just walk. Really – just walk! Easily at first – at a pace you enjoy and can still maintain a conversation. Then stretch yourself a little – walk further, walk faster and then eventually – do both. Set yourself targets – how many steps, how many calories (if you have one of those clever watches), how long, how fast? Be organised. Take friends with you – make it fun but make it regular and hopefully up to 3-4 times per week. If you do have a PT then do the walking around the PT session to increase your exercise frequency whilst keeping costs down.
You will be surprised how uplifting it can be to get outside on a regular basis several times a week – either alone (good thinking time) or with friends or the dog. You will also be surprised how much better you get to know the friend that agrees to meet you for that regular walk than you would sweating it out in a HIIT class that left you feeling wounded for the following week.
If any of the above thoughts have triggered you into action then have a look at the internet for a running or walking starter plan. Or ask me – the FIT & FAB 7 step programme to better fitness, attitude and body might be the right place to start.
And if, you are still not convinced have a look at this really SHORT video (it’s about 20 seconds) of me walking my way to complete a marathon at the end of my recent Ironman. I incorporated walking into my training plan when osteo-arthritis got in the way of running a full 42km. I completed the marathon in 5 hours and 27 minutes – not bad when I walked over half of it. Believe – anything is possible!