Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why are people so "possessive" about their workout?

I have had a couple of experiences in the last few weeks that had me ask the question: "Why is everyone so possessive about their fitness?"

Here are the experiences that I refer to:

1) I was doing a fitness assessment for a potential client. Two things that I wanted to include in the assessment were and overhead squat test and a aerobic recovery step test. I went in the group fitness room and used one of the bars used for the group "weightlifting class" and used the steps for the aerobic class. There was a "Silver Sneakers" elderly group class waiting to start. By going into that room to do my assessment, which took all of 6 minutes, everyone stared at me like I had just kicked their collective dogs.

2) My boss teaches a spin class. She had a spot and asked if I wanted to give it a shot. I said sure. You should have seen some of the looks that I got. It was like a broke into an all-women private club. I can see them think to themselves "this is out spin class."

Most people are pretty cool when it come to working out, sharing the gym etc. But as group fitness become more popular there is a cliquish, snobbish, exclusive quality that is becoming more commonplace in the gym.

BTW, in case you were wondering I made it through the spin class just fine. It was not easy (esp. since I did squat's earlier that afternoon) but based on what others have told me about spin class, you would have though I had a better chance of scaling Mount Everest. I had people tell me:

* Spin class burns 900 calories/hr, kettlebells won't help you with that.

* Spin class will get your heart rate higher than kettlebell ever will.

* You are too bulky for spin class.

Let me tackle these ridiculous thought one at a time.

* As everyone should know, calories are "units of energy" > You use "energy" to do "work". I know that in my training is do a few things that really bump my "capacity to do work" (MaxVO2, Tabata Protocol, Tire Flips, etc.). One of the reason that kettlebells and tires flips translates to "work capacity" training is that on a bike I cannot move my legs fast enough to generate the maximum amount of work possible. Both KBs and Tire Flips use the entire body, not just the legs. This is why I can generate for work with those than the spin class. In class, my wind wasn't taxed, but my legs were as a combination of the class itself as well as the fact that I did heavy leg presses and squats 6 hours before.

* Similar to the point above. Heart rate is proxy measure for how much "oxygen debt" that you are in (this may not be medically correct, those incline feel free to critique that statement). The more work you do, the higher the heart rate. I get my heart rate up much higher while doing KB, tire flips, tabatas so my heart rate was just fine.

* As for being too bulky. Let me make the distinction between "big" and "bulky". I certainly am a big guy, at least relative to the general population and certainly relative to those taking a spin class. I would not say that I am bulky because my muscles are relatively "dense" for my size (most people are surprised at how little much I weigh, especially relative to how much I lift). I think that the people who are more bulky are those that are < 10% bodyfat but still can do less then 20 pushups. When you watch them do pushup, it literary looks like they are carrying their muscle. They have the muscle, they just aren't using it. While to some I may look bulky, I am certainly not too bulky for a spin class. Also, my extra weight did not seem to hurt me when we got off the seat during class. I was more than able to support my weight.

I am sure that I will take another spin class, but I certain would not schedule my life around it like some people do. People show up half-hour early for a popular Zumba class so they get the preferred spot in the room. Most of these people would benefit from some strength training. I have a client in said class, and she said that weight training gave her something that Zumba never did. I told her to absolutely continue her Zumbaing, but that Zumba as a stand alone program is incomplete.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

The proprietary feeling of those folks in gyms is one of the big reasons I've always felt uncomfortable in them. No matter where i went, be it the weight room, the area with machines, or the group classes, I always felt like a social pariah. No matter how long or how consistently I went, I always felt that way.