Saturday, February 24, 2018

Scary Fitness Mistakes

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Exercise isn’t scary. Some people’s perceptions and performance might be. Are you spooked by these common, yet frightening, fitness blunders …

Happy Halloween! Send scaring on its way with the candy. Follow these tips and avoid being spooky on the Exercise Floor.

Call in a Lifeline

Regardless of fitness level, everyone slips into the occasional bad habit. It may be bad form, calling it quits too soon/too late, or not varying your workout enough. The newbie often entertains countless scenarios and fears when starting a fitness program. Perhaps you’ve conjured up images of flying off the treadmill, lacking the stamina and coordination to complete exercises, or being thought offensively sweaty.

Hiring a personal trainer provides peace-of-mind for these inhibiting scenarios, however unrealistic they are. A trainer’s purpose is to create a challenging workout that remains specific to your needs. S/he can demonstrate the correct way to operate fitness equipment and work with you to accomplish fast, safe independent practices. In a few sessions, you can be assured of an optimal start to a fitness lifestyle, or a new routine. Worry not– to them, profuse sweating is a sign of a job well done.

Fear of the Lifeline Itself

Personal trainers may appear intimidating with that solid build and comfortable confidence. Underneath it all may be a person who suffered obesity, struggled with sports, overcame an injury, or dealt with chronic health issues. Appreciate, don’t fear, examples like them from whom we can learn and be inspired.

Rest assured, a professional trainer is focused solely on taking you to the next step in your fitness journey. Objectively. Sure, you may traverse scary terrain like acknowledging an iffy body weight. This is essential when developing an honest training relationship. Most trainers have seen and heard it all, which attributes to their expert, evolving knowledge. Be assured a trainer is not mentally criticizing any confessions to laziness, admissions of junk food binges, or revelations of personal grooming habits (in other words, wear shorts without fear of an unclean shave).

Reality Television

Can these two words really go together? Maybe reality shows belong on the horror channel, if there is one. Banish thoughts of TV-made celebrities and their crazy fitness methods. The Center offers much to explore on your fitness journey, in the true realm of reality.

Take advantage of variety the smart way. Get in the know.
Take advantage of variety the smart way. Get in the know.

On the Exercise Floor, there is innovative equipment and tools. To the unfamiliar, something like kettlebells may look scary. They are really a handy little powerhouse. The Group Fitness studios fill with a variety of classes, not all require Jillian Michaels’ stamina. The Aquatic department offers water workouts, great for the arthritic but frightening for many who fear the water. And don’t even think about the timid person’s opinion on the Pilates reformer. All of these are good, if you know how to use them.

In typical Hollywood fashion, TV shows and demonstrations love to show all of these elements being used simultaneously (sometimes by those of extreme fitness levels and body weights). Somewhere among the exaggeration is the truth. Contrary to “reality,” you cannot swing kettlebells while on the elliptical, followed by a lengthy swim and a couple high-impact classes. Just as a supermodel cannot be made without an airbrush.

A personal trainer and fitness instructor help create a well-rounded, healthy program. You do not need to multitask to get results. Leave those blunders for TV. They often double as bloopers.


Do not become so obsessed with your rocking calves that you neglect to tone up those wiggly arms. Do not put all your efforts in strength training leaving nothing left for cardio fitness, and the reverse. Humans are creatures of habit. We truly settle into a routine. This sacrifices our ability to effectively workout and achieve well-rounded, efficient results.

Core fitness, which focuses on muscles deep within the abdomen and back, is a fundamental starting point for developing or refreshing a fitness routine. It gives a solid foundation upon which to build your workout, which helps prevent scary mishaps, including injuries and falls. This form of functional exercise helps muscles communicate by working several groups simultaneously in one fluid movement. Muscle function improves in the back, abdomen, pelvis, and hips for better performance in your workouts and during everyday activities.

See “Inner Strength, Outer Results,”  (F&W News, Oct.10, 2012) for more insight on core training.

Eat, Drink, and Don’t Be Scary

The Center nurses can attest. Despite reminders and urgings, many neglect thirst and hunger prior to a workout, with frightening results. Thankfully, the Center nurses are at-the-ready with water, blood pressure monitoring, and a watchful eye under which one can recuperate. Yet wandering the world in a state of thirst can have scaring consequences. Fainting feels lousy and can cause lasting damage, depending on the severity of the fall.

Hydration is essential throughout every day, and especially during and around exercise sessions. Maximize your fitness routine by staying hydrated. Proper hydration allows your body to perform at its best. When dehydrated, workout performance is hindered by muscle weakness and fatigue. The time saved by skipping a pre-workout water break is lost when your body forces you to quit early.

apples and dip, picSatisfy hunger at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to exercising. If  you workout upon awakening, allow time to digest morning nourishment. A full night’s rest can start you in a partially dehydrated state. Replenish with water and a light meal to break the fast. Choose foods that combine carbohydrates and protein, such as half a bagel or large banana. A couple tablespoons of peanut butter or a cup of yogurt deliver the protein needed to preserve muscle and increase energy. Avoid high-fat or high-fiber foods, which may upset stomach and decrease energy.

Coming to the Center dehydrated and hungry does not help lose pounds quicker. Rather, it’s like coming to an aquatic class without a swim suit. Be prepared, inside and out.

Holiday Kick-Off

For some, Halloween is seen as the beginning of the end. That is a discouraging thought. The presence of candy in overflowing plastic pumpkins is too much to resist. This all-or-nothing mentality feeds on itself, not just the sweets. Bite by bite, we feel our reserve and commitment to a healthier lifestyle dissolve. Suddenly, it’s Thanksgiving and the winter holidays where food is the main focus of festivities. In other words, at Halloween you could be teetering on the commitment to a year’s worth of healthy living.

Make “enjoy with moderation” your mantra. Start repeating this now so it is engrained in your psyche when challenges get tougher (turkey stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the other favorites). A piece or slice is your taste bud ‘s right, an entire bag or pie is not. Take it and savor it away from the source so seconds can be paused for thought.

For all you groupies, be impressed with the average caloric burn you accomplish at each of these Group Fitness classes:

Scare off calories. Counteract treats with a BODYCOMBAT class.
Scare off calories. Counteract treats with a BODYCOMBAT class.




RPM, 675

SH’BAM, 506



Allow yourself treats in moderation and keep the fitness momentum going. Some Halloween candy requires more moderation than others. Check out these calorie counts: Snickers (59-gram bar) and Baby Ruth (60-gram bar) have 280 calories each, Mr. Goodbar (49-gram bar) has 250 calories, and Mounds (49-gram bar) has 230 calories. Hard candies and candy corn are lesser-caloric option.

Some issues are obvious. Our image can reflect back scary posture when lifting too-heavy weights. Our stomach can growl reminding us we should have eaten. Your co-workout-ers can recognize lack of awareness by your incessant cell phone chatting right before you slipped and fell.


Other issues only surface after observation and with the expertise that experience provides. If you have unresolved fitness fears, speak with Center staff. And, when staff notice, we will definitely alert you to scary fitness mistakes. We all make them. The important thing is to stop before “boo!” becomes “boo-hoo.”


“10 Reasons You’re Afraid to Hire a Personal Trainer,” by Paige Waehner at

Les Mills

Image Credits

Scary pumpkin (introductory photo):

Apples and dip:



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