Why go to the gym?
By Ellen Tordesillas
Photos and video by MARIO IGNACIO
People go to the gym for a variety of reasons.
One overweight male journalist thought it was the best place to ogle at shapely beauties. He later realized, as he was sweating and panting, that there are less strenuous ways to indulge in girl-watching.
Vanessa Agdon, a group exercise instructor at Fitness First Southmall and Alabang, said you get most of your efforts in a gym than when you do it on your own without the guidance of experts.
“You will have a safer and more effective workout (in a gym),” she says.
She explains that when exercising at home, you get used to do what you are doing and there is a high possibility you will experience a plateau, a condition when the person exercising finds his fitness, strength or endurance staying at a constant level.
There are those who think they’ll be able to save money by just buying instructional exercise video.
“But nobody will tell you, you can raise your legs higher, you can jump faster. Nobody will push you to do that,” she says.
Another advantage of going to the gym, Agdon says, is making friends. “In the company of friends, you will have the motivation to progress.”
And “progress,” she says, is the key in working out. “You must always progress. You can’t just stay there, at one level. You can always get better.”
Agdon advises to consult a doctor before deciding to go to the gym. “From there, you would know what goal to take. If you have (a) medical condition, there may be some special movements that you should not do,” she says.
There are lots of gyms or fitness centers in the country. Payment package varies from one gym to another, but usually they charge a membership fee and monthly fee.
Agdon gives the following tips on choosing a gym:
1) Check the services offered.
“Consider if they can handle you well. In some gyms, after you pay your membership fee, you are on your own,” Agdon says.
At Fitness First, a member’s program starts with a sessions with a Personal Trainer that gives basic workouts and guides in the use of the equipment. There’s also a session with the nutritionist on healthy meals.
Gyms also offer a wide variety of group exercises.
Agdon, a petite bundle of energy, handles Body Pump, a weight-based workout, and Body Combat, an energetic program that incorporates martial arts moves, both developed by the Australian company,Les Mills, in Fitness First Southmall. She also does Body Combat and Drums Alive, an exercise-and-drum-sticks-based exercise program, in Fitness First Alabang.
2) Check the equipment.
There are the low-end, also called the “bakal (steel)” gyms, and those with top of-the- line equipment.
Agdon points out that at Fitness First, even the exercise floors are made of cushioned wood which are kinder and safer for the feet and the knees unlike when one is exercising on asphalt or cement floors.
3) Check out the qualifications of instructors and trainers.
“In Fitness First, we (Fitness Instructors) are internationally- certified,” she says, adding that what they are doing in the Philippines are also being done in their other facilities in countries like Japan, Australia, Malaysia, United Kingdom, United States.
Furthermore, every three months, instructors are retrained. Getting burned out is avoided because “laging may bago (There’s always something new),” she adds.
Agdon makes a good model for gym workout. Eight years ago, this graphic artist was a client of Fitness First Alabang. She was overweight at 145 pounds, standing at only five feet. She did the usual individual and group exercises. “Wala lang (Just that.) I loved it,” she recalls.
A fitness instructor noticed and told her she was “actually pretty good.” She trained to be an instructor and since 2006, this 105 pound-dynamo has been leading fitness enthusiasts in vibrant workouts.
Agdon says it’s important when exercising to wear the right shoes and underwear and lightweight shirts.
The right footwear, she says, should be cross-training shoes, which are wider than running shoes. “Wrong shoes will hurt your ankle and your knees,” she says.
A sports bra is sturdier than the ordinary bras and minimizes breast movement. “You can wear two if you are double B,” she says.
With the right attire, “you jump higher, your movements are bigger, you burn more calories,” she adds.
Agdon also gives some Do’s and Don’ts in physical exercise:
1. Do not starve yourself.
Diet doesn’t mean eating less. It’s eating right. If you are going to do a cardio workout , fuel your body with carbohydrates – rice or bread or pasta, two to three hours before workout.
2. Drink water to avoid dehydration as a lot of body fluid is lost through sweat during exercise.
3. Have adequate sleep. When you work out, your muscle becomes tired. When you sleep, that’s the time your body sucks all the nutrients it needs to recover.
4. Don’t forget your vitamins, the essential supplements.
5. Write down your goals. It doesn’t matter if it as simple as losing a few pounds.
Her final reminder: “While writing your goals, don’t forget to smile.”
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)