The pros and cons of a home gym vs. a big daddy gym

Good morning and welcome to a new week!

This is back to school week for us, but I realize some of you have already gotten into the school flow.

Did you know that back-to-school season is the second busiest season of the year? It’s second to the new year as back-to-school comes with a new schedule and new challenges as well as fresh goals (or refreshing the old ones).

So, today we are tackling a question that I am asked very often: Should I get a gym membership or can I get fit at home?

The answer can be a bit complicated since it really lies in your personal goals and what you have available to you to propel you toward that physical goal.

I have personally been working out at home since I was a teenager and first learned all about what working out can do for your body, mind and spirit. Here is MY take on the pros and cons of both home gyms and big gyms…….I like to make you laugh, so lighten up and enjoy.

morpheus-home gym

Pros and cons of a home gym.

Now, just as a disclosure I feel I need to tell you that I have an actual gym at home. We renovated the garage into a gym and I have quite a bit of space to move around. Over the years I have gathered weights, bars, suspension trainers, ropes, trampolines, kettle bells, etc. so I’m not hurting for equipment. Keep in mind, you really can get fit in a small space with limited equipment (even just your body) if you have the right guidance :) Click HERE for necessary guidance (shameless plug).

  1. You don’t have to have fancy gym clothes. You don’t have to match. Heck, you can work out naked if you want, but I wouldn’t advise that cause eeeewwwww. With a home gym you can literally workout in your pajamas. Some people may say this is a con……but we all know it’s a total pro!
  2. You don’t have to wear shoes. I was having a bunch of foot problems a few months ago and then I started lifting barefoot (you pay closer attention and use good form!) which enables the body to distribute weight more evenly in the feet instead of our fancy shoes overcompensating for imbalances.
  3. You can get stuff done in sweaty workout clothes…….OK, this falls into both the pro and con. As I type I have JUST finished a sweet back workout and I haven’t showered. I did change though! The con of sweaty gym clothes is that’s gross.
  4. Working out at home increases compliance. Most people find excuses to skip the gym. Who wants to throw on tights when they are super bloated? Who wants to dead lift when they have gas? Who wants to drive to the gym at 4 in the morning?!?!?!!? Being able to walk from kitchen to gym without running into anybody looking at your bloated belly is a big pro and increases compliance to any workout program :)
  5. I tend to work harder at home. I can feel free to yell, grunt, spit, cry…whatever it takes. I don’t have to reel in my inner beast lady to make others feel comfortable. Extra bonus: I don’t catch glimpses of my awful facial expressions :/
  6. You don’t have to wait for equipment. Seriously dude, if you need to return a text or brag about your warm up set on Facebook, do it by the water fountain! Working out at home eliminates the stress other gym goers may cause.
  7. If something breaks you can either fix it or replace it (or pretend you never had it) instead of having to tell the front desk, who tells maintenance, who has to wait for the OK, and then it’s fixed 2 years after you cancel your gym membership.
  8. Your gym stays open in just about any weather….BONUS: you don’t have to drive in nasty weather to get there.
  9. Your dog is totally welcome…..that may just be me.
  10. Perhaps most important: you have your pick of post-workout food just steps away :)

Now, a few cons:

  1. You may need specialized equipment that your family is unwilling to give up precious living room space to hold (focus on the cause people!).
  2. You still need to schedule your workouts. Simply having a gym within walking distance is not enough to get your booty there.
  3. If you’re a social butterfly (or feel you need to be seen in order for your workouts to count), home gyms won’t work for you.

gym creep

Big daddy gyms….and boxes, warehouse gyms, etc.

First, boxes and warehouse gyms have actually gained in popularity because they offer a better “feel” than big chain gyms. The premise is almost the same though, you pay for some type of membership to use space and equipment.

  1. Con: creepers. These are the people who just watch you workout. They have no other goal than to watch others. Not all creepers are nasty, some are just watchers. Either way, creeping is not cool.
  2. These places do have equipment in a space and your family doesn’t complain that they can’t see the TV around your squat rack.
  3. These places also have trainers and floor staff. Now, some (a rare few) are good. MOST are untrained or brand spanking new and want to tell you how to workout without knowing your current level of fitness or your goal.  They also can’t answer questions like, “How do I adjust the leg press?”…..these people should be avoided.
  4. You’re on show whether you want to be or not. You can give the speech that your crew is too cool to watch others, but we’re all human…..you’re being watched and ultimately compared by others. So, embrace that.
  5. If you dig working out around others then  gym is a safe bet to get results. If you like a “team” feel, a box would be better suited to your needs. If you’re a hermit…..stay home cause you won’t like either.
  6. Biggest con: it’s a hot bed of bad form. One person performing a move with bad form and confidence will result in many more doing the same thing (see #4). So, get the right guidance and you’ll be golden.

No matter how you choose to get fit, your biggest limitation may just be the voice between your own 2 ears. Figure out your goals, set up a plan of attack…..and make like Nike and just do it!

Stay safe and healthy,

Michelle

Why am I not seeing results? Part 3

AND….we’re back!

If you need to catch up on why you may not be seeing results from all your hard work in the gym , check out part 1 and part 2 before you move on.

As I am getting ready for a BIG trip to Disney World (accompanied by a couple hundred high school band members and parents), I wanted to hone in on one particular downfall to many gym patrons. You may hit the gym every day and work far harder than the guy checking his Facebook status every set (HUGE pet peeve), but you aren’t seeing results. I’m going to enlighten you with a bit of science on the subject of results :)

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You grab your gear and head for the gym, possibly after getting the kids to school OR after a long days work. You mentally prepare, grab a locker, hook in the old headphones and head for your favorite cardio to warm up…..where you spend the next 30-60 minutes hoofing it out on the hardest setting cause you came to work! Take that Facebook guy!!!! After this, you head towards the weight machines OR maybe even some free weights. About 6 minutes into lifting you are feeling beat down. That’s the sign it’s working right? So you trudge on. You may even throw some plyometrics and jogging in place right into your workout. You are killing it today! That magazine article inspired you to get after this workout hard, but you seem to be lacking a little in strength. No worries, we can pick up lighter weight. After a beating like that, you grab your stuff from the locker room and head home or to the office where you are beat down…..but that’s how it’s supposed to feel right? When it comes time to eat, you may indulge in a slightly larger portion or maybe something a bit sweet….cause that workout was KILLER! The next day you wake to do it again and again and again.

Question: If your workouts are so epic, why do you look exactly the same?

gym tread

There are 2 MAJOR things working against you here.

#1. You’re wasting your energy on cardio. Don’t roll your eyes cardio queen, pay attention. Your body is an energy store house. Energy comes from the calories you eat. Calories come from food. If you’re cranking away at the cardio for 30-60 minutes BEFORE you ever hit weights, you’ve doomed your actual body shaping. Cardio CAN help with weight loss, but not jiggle loss. Don’t like your thighs? Get off the treadmill and head to the squat rack. You need to lift heavy in order to create the tight body you covet. You need a LOT of energy to lift heavy….stop wasting it on the cardio pieces!

Am I saying cardio is bad? Of course not. We do need cardio as an integral part of training, but it shouldn’t be the proverbial cart before the horse. Strengthen your horse first. Want faster results? For a full MONTH try this:

  • Warm up on cardio equipment for 5 minutes at a light pace. It’s your warm up, not your workout.
  • Either place cardio at the end of your workout OR at a separate time. OR….
  • Perform cardio on alternating days from weight lifting.

This will enable you to utilize the proper muscles while lifting and strengthen the mind/muscle connection. Give it try. What do you have to lose?

cupcakes and women

#2. You’re not fueling post-workout.

I always find it odd that I’m the only one at the bar in the locker room mixing my shakes….while others are doing their hair :)

Your body needs nutrition post-workout because unless you were taking selfies, texting, or Facebooking between sets, then you worked through your fuel. Try for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein and keep the fats out until about an hour or 2 post-workout. This has been shown to enhance recovery, slow down muscle loss and increase the loss of body fat. If you think eating post-workout will make you gain what you just lost……you really need to look up some scientific facts about how the body works. Fueling post-workout also keeps your immune system healthy so you can continue to workout regularly.

My preferred meal after a workout is a scoop of whey protein in water and an orange. This gives me the right ratio and a double whammy with vitamins and minerals from the orange. I usually eat a larger meal about an hour later to continue recovery.

What to try this month: pack some food with you! You can keep it in your car if needed. Have some fresh fruit ready to go at home. If you need protein, you can check out some of my faves HERE. If you prefer whole foods, opt for tuna or chicken breasts so the fat stays low (higher fat post-workout slows the assimilation and absorption of proteins).

Stay with it, try something new, and go get your results!

Why Am I NOT Seeing Results? ….a blog series to get you where you want to be

Hello Fit People!

This particular series will last 4 blogs (crazy right?) and will be posted weekly. So you get a month to learn what could be hold you back from your very best self.

If you are one of the MANY ( I have high hopes) who have continued on with those New Year’s goals long after that the groundhog came out of his hole, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!

But here is the million dollar question: Are you where you thought you would be? Are you struggling with your goals already? Are you asking yourself, “Am I there yet?” Have no fear. I’ve been in this game long enough to know a thing or 2 about habits and hangups that could be holding you back from your goals. How do I know? Cause I have them too :) But if I stayed with them I would never be where I am today.

BTW, these are in NO particular order, so tackle what is relevant to you right now.

Strong Camp 90 Photo by Paul Buceta for Strong Magazine

1. You think the food will just work itself out.

Here’s the deal, you HAVE to be aware of what you are eating, period. Even the guy that ate Twinkies for the study was AWARE of how many Twinkies he was eating. In my opinion, that’s probably why that little experiment worked. Know what you’re eating and know how much. The only reason that person at the gym seems to have more definition than you is most likely because they know what they are eating and they track their food.

Choose the style that works best for YOU. Macros rock my world, but close into my competition I prefer a pretty simple diet of eating similar foods every day. This is just because it is easier to be prepared. I’m not a fan of just counting calories as we can often fill those calorie requirements with foods that do not serve us very well. You know what I’m talking about ladies. How many of you eat MORE carbs (cause girls love carbs!) and run out of calories for your protein? The body works better in balance of all 3 macronutrients so give it a fighting chance. Track your food and know what works for you.

2.You really like your “cheat” meal……like REALLY.

Do you know why “cheat meals” were termed? Body builders would run out of stored glycogen (carbs get stored as glycogen in the muscle fibers and are used for energy during heavy lifting workouts) due to low carbohydrate diets. When glycogen is depleted, strength can fade. So, the bodybuilder began to implement refeeds (which are actually PLANNED days of eating more carbohydrates to refuel the glycogen stores) and some, cheat meals.

Here is the problem……90% of the gym population are not bodybuilders (not that we aren’t working hard, but really) and yet we try to eat like one. This can be particularly true with those just starting on a strength training program. We can get all geared up and hop on a deprivation diet which is followed by a cheat meal, which turns into a cheat weekend, which causes shame and we get back in line on Monday to start the cycle again. Sound familiar?

A treat is warranted if you have been withholding calories AND especially if you have been withholding macronutrients (I don’t believe EITHER should be very low, even in weight loss), but it should be contained to ONE small treat per week with the goal of refueling a system, not bingeing to good glory because you deserve it…….

NEXT WEEK we will tackle some common mistakes in the gym and figure out how to make your membership work better for you :)

Stay Strong!

Michelle

 

Gym Talk: Are Fit Pros Helpful or Hurtful?

Happy Monday fit peeps and geeks! Cause if you follow my posts, you’re bound to have a little geek in ya ;)

Today’s Gym Talk session will hit hard on a subject pretty close to me: are fitness professionals HELPFUL or are they hurtful?

Little disclaimer here….I am what is considered a fitness professional. I value my career and love that I can spend every day doing what I truly love. If you don’t know me, trust me when I say EDUCATION is the paramount of my success as a trainer, nutritionist and coach. Never stop learning…..i.e. Stay in school kids.

The thought for this post actually came along while I was in California this past Summer for the Idea World Convention. I was a guest with Blogfest (along with a couple hundred other lovely ladies…..and like one man, Hi Laird!). Idea World is the world’s largest fitness convention with a completely mind-blowing array of fit goodies, but I really went for the education. One of my first classes was a nutrition class taught by a registered dietician. Let me break this down real quick: she is an RD, I am a nutritionist. She is more highly educated and knows more than me on the subject of nutrition science. I went to soak up the knowledge :) Sadly, MANY participants acted a bit more like the old guys in the rafters on the Muppets. It was disturbing to say the least. These people travel in packs too, because they cannot defend their unrealistic views without help….any guesses as to the crowd? I’ll never tell….

At any rate, people in the audience started questioning science. Not the good kind of questioning, but the kind that was pretty clear that GOOGLE is their personal nutritionist. When the RD (Jessica Crandall for those who want to know) would answer the question professionally, she was met with theory and statements that made no sense in the nutrition science realm of things. Then, when these people were dissatisfied with her lack of agreement in their argument, they left in the middle of the class….and they did it as loudly as they can. Jessica handled the entire thing FAR better than I could have hoped to.

Another thing I noticed (since I was attending alone) was that many of these fitness “professionals” would travel in their packs and literally walk through others. Keep in mind that the convention hall with all the goodies is open to the public (or commoners as I’m sure this group refers to them). Shoulder back and sauntering, fit pros would look over the heads of those deemed less than functionally fit…..and I believe it is professionals like this that hinder progress on any level.

Even now I notice this behavior in the gym. Trainers look over their own clients and watch others. People new to working out are intimidated to ask a trainer for help. Many trainers don’t make themselves available…unless they think they can get a sale. A lot of the latter can be blamed on how large chain gyms are run, but the previous 2 depend on professionals to put their professional pants on and make a difference.

As a fitness professional, what can you do to create an environment of change, wherever you are?

  1. Maintain an approachable demeanor, especially if you’re on the clock. Make eye contact with patrons, walk up to those who seem to be struggling and ask (with no expectation of being picked up as their trainer) if you can help them with a certain machine or movement.
  2. If you are training a client, pay attention to that client….the whole time.
  3. When you’re off the clock or at a convention, resist the urge to stay comfortable with “your” people. We’re ALL people. None of actually have super powers, so stop acting like you’re better than the rest of the population.
  4. Remember that training is customer service and customer service grows through word of mouth. I have always had a wait-list due to how I treat people, not because of how I look or the demeanor I project.
  5. Get a mentor. They don’t have to live near you, but find a trainer who has been successful in this business and LEARN from them. Learn about people skills, programming, education, etc. Never stop learning.
  6. Make it a point to watch everything around you. As you walk through a convention, stand tall but don’t be intimidating. Give others the right of way for a change and expand your vision past your own 6 pack.

It’s time for fitness professionals to set a standard. I know a lot of trainers don’t turn this into a career, but for those who do it can be very rewarding. The world needs the knowledge we have. We need those in the world to be able to put food on the table.

At the end of the day, we are all PEOPLE. There is no one better than the other or with more willpower or self control……we all have something others need. Carve your path, but carve it mind fully.

BTW, big thanks to Pamela with thrivefit.com for making the convention more fun for this fellow introvert :)

Be you,

Michelle

Gym Chat: Safety Tips to get the MOST from Your Membership

So, you’ve laid out the cash for a gym membership right? Did you know that statistically over 70% of people with gym memberships do NOT visit the gym regularly?!?!?!? That’s wasted cash people!

I think the main reason people become disenchanted with the gym itself has more to do with our lack of self-confidence within the environment and less to do with the environment itself. So, I’ve developed a blog series to help YOU get the most from your gym membership :)

Read on for the first installment so you can boost your self-confidence and results. Not to mention, you won’t be spending $10-$60/month on this…..

treadmill Don’t be that person….

OK, so gym safety starts and ends with you. Let’s cover the bases on how you can provide a safe environment for yourself to reach goals.

  1. KNOW THYSELF. Do NOT (I repeat, NOT) simply follow somebody else’s gym routine or attempt to lift what they lift right out of the gate. All too often I witness people hopping from one machine to another simply mimicking what they saw somebody else do earlier. This can lead to injury AND your goals may not be the same as theirs.
  2. Check your weight. Ok, not “your” weight, but the weight that is either racked on the bar or already on the machine. I saw a guy nearly crushed by the bench press last weekend because he simply sauntered up and decided to press what was already on it. NOBODY at that gym is comparing weights with you….at least nobody that matters. Err on the side of caution. Many times I start light and will simply add some weight if I feel the need. Form and safety are always first. The only person keeping track of the weight is YOU.
  3. Have a plan. If you want the most out of your membership, walk in with a plan. Don’t walk in for social hour, unless that’s the purpose to your monthly dues….in which case, sad :( . I see many people wandering the gym floor waiting for inspiration to strike. This can end up hurting you as 9 out of 10 times you’ll end up back at #1.
  4. If you’re planning to lift SUPER heavy (challenging lifts for you) either have a spotter who will accompany you and work out with you OR go when you know there are a few more bodies in the gym to help. Example: the young man on the bench press mentioned in #2: M-Th at 5 a.m. the gym is packed with available spotters (guys and gals that KNOW what they are doing and can dig you out of a jam then give you a high five for effort) and even a couple of trainers. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are notorious dead days. When this poor guy got stuck there were only 3 other people on the floor and no floor staff. Lifting heavy is cool, but make sure you have somebody to watch your back.
  5. Don’t let your friend run your workout. Having a workout buddy ROCKS…when your at the same level and have similar goals. My favorite workout buddy has a BIG goal of booty building, as do I :) So, I always loved putting together challenging butt-building workouts and KILLING the gym floor. That reminds me, I should schedule another…Anyways, if your gym buddy has NO need/desire to lose weight and that’s ALL you got your membership for, don’t let them run your workout. You can still meet up for accountability, but make sure you are working towards your personal goals. TIP: peruse the blog for tips on goal setting :)

Now that your safer and feeling a little more confident, let’s REALLY kick it up a notch!

Are you just not sure what to do when you set foot on the gym floor? Let me help walk you through this:

  1. If you’re like me and you bring a bag, lock it up….oh, make sure you have what you need first. Don’t be like me and have to unlock your locker 5 times.
  2. Know your plan OR carry it with you in a workout journal (I use one from bodybuilding.com)
  3. WARM UP! Here’s where people get fuzzy. A warm-up is not 30 minutes on the treadmill to hit the weights for 20 minutes…..that confuses me, but we’ll get to it later. If you’re working total body (which you should if your overall goal is weight loss), then a cardio machine for 5-10 minutes will do. If you’re having an upper body day, you can warm up with some dynamic movements to get blood flow to the joints FIRST, then perform 1-3 warm-up sets of a compound movement at about 20-30% of your working weight.
  4. Stay focused and avoid the super-long-check-in-on-Facebook-between-sets-rests. Seriously, stop that.
  5. Try to stretch when you’re done, but if you don’t have time simply make sure you stretch and foam roll THAT DAY.
  6. On your way out, sip on your post-workout shake so that recovery can start right away.

Final thoughts. Let’s talk about why you may not be seeing the results you want.

  1. You gym routine is on point, your diet is all over the place. A solid nutrition plan makes ALL the difference. There is NO way around it. Unclear what you should be eating? I can help with that. Shoot me an email HERE: michelle@michellecfitness.com  and I can have you a plan for weight loss, muscle building, and even general health and disease prevention.
  2. You work out SO hard you need 3-4 days to recover. Really? Consistency is key and getting to the gym CONSISTENTLY will pay off far more than killing yourself inconsistently.
  3. Your cardio is longer than your weight workouts. Stop that. Shorten cardio time to 20-30 minutes a day (especially if you want some muscle), 3-5 times per week. Focus your strength on building the body you want, not tearing it down.
  4. Pre and post workout nutrition is all over the place. Again, I can help with that :)
  5. You don’t really have a plan. Magazines make working out look so cool, but if you are hopping from one big thing to the next all consistency is lost. If you cannot figure out what works best for you, consider hiring a coach to help you get started. The beauty of the internet is that your coach is just a click away.

These can be just a few things that are stopping progress. Check in on them and get the help you need to see the results you want.

Keep living fit!

Michelle