Health Nut: Making exercise personal

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November 1, 2010

11:53 PM

Gym memberships and personal training services are usually thought to be luxuries, but as a member of the College of William and Mary community, you get an all-access pass to the well-equipped Student Recreation Center. Also, as a hard-working student, you are eligible to receive a 25 percent discount for personal training services. The cost of a one-hour session with a personal trainer for students at our Rec Center is $15 — you could spend that much, or even more, on dinner and a movie. You tell me, which is the better investment?

First of all, I’d like to stress the importance of keeping yourself physically fit. You never know what life is going to throw at you, and training to stay in shape, makes you better prepared to handle whatever it does. In fact, studies have shown that in response to emotional stress, those who train physically experience a smaller increase in heart rate and blood pressure than those who are sedentary. And obviously, training regularly makes running to catch the bus much easier.

You’ve heard all about the great benefits of exercise — your energy level, mood and self-esteem increase, while your stress level and risk of heart attack decrease. You’ll sleep better at night, and of course working out is one of the best ways to manage your weight. Yet even though the benefits are well known, many people still have trouble going for a 30-minute jog outdoors or hitting the weight room. Now, there’s a fine line between reasons and excuses – and as a personal trainer, I’ve heard plenty of excuses. The following are the most common, and they might sound familiar to you.

“I don’t have time.” Do me a favor. Take a piece of paper and along the left side, start with 6 a.m. and write down every hour in a column until 11 p.m. These are the hours of the Rec Center. Now, next to each hour, fill in your obligations. Include classes, meetings, work and when you eat your meals. Leave out the time you spend on Facebook, and you will probably find that you have at least an hour somewhere, right? In that space, schedule your workout. Treat it like a meeting. Commit yourself to it. Here’s where hiring a personal trainer could come in handy. If you have your trainer waiting for you at the gym, you will go.

“I’m not motivated enough.” Under this excuse falls a whole slew of other excuses: “I’m not motivated because,” “I’m not seeing results” or “I get bored too easily.” To help yourself stay motivated, remember to set goals, specific goals. If your goal is to “tone up,” well, that’s almost immeasurable. An example of a good goal would be challenging yourself to do 10 push-ups on your toes or jog for 15 minutes without stopping. Once you reach these goals, you can set new ones.

“I don’t know how to exercise.” Or, more specifically, you don’t know how to use the free weights downstairs. This is where a personal trainer can prove useful. The trainer will demonstrate an exercise before he or she asks you to do it. You will receive immediate, constructive feedback during your execution to make sure you both prevent injuries and get the most out of the exercise. There’s also a plethora of fitness literature out there. I started my weightlifting career simply with some pushups and the book “Weight Lifting for Dummies.” Now it’s my job to spread the knowledge I’ve learned.

__Marilyn Auza is a Flat Hat Health Nut columnist. She likes to schedule her work out time in between her one hour of Facebook stalking and two hours of YouTube video watching.__

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