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What are your goals?

January 15, 2010

I can’t think of better advice to give a woman about to start working out. With OR without a personal trainer.

Think: What are your goals?

Since carrying excess weight puts you at risk for a host of diseases, from various cancers to heart disease, stroke and diabetes..then losing weight, if you’re overweight, makes an altogether fine and sensible goal.

So what are you doing up on that Bosu ball??

Too many times I have seen a woman with some 30-40 pounds to lose standing near me in the gym, balancing unsteadily on one foot while hoisting 3 lb. dumbbells.

When a trainer is standing nearby–critiquing the poor woman’s one-legged form–I start seething.  AND grumbling under my breath to my boyfriend if he has the misfortune to be with me.

“That trainer is NOT doing her any favors!” I say. “More than anything, she needs to lose some weight. Not learn how to stand 30 seconds on one foot.”

Of course, let a trainer know you have a risk for osteoporosis and up you go on that Bosu ball. Or on that right foot, looking like an overfed stork. Working your “core.” Improving your balance and coordination.

Sure, you may sidestep the hip replacement…IF you survive the heart attack.

MY advice:

* If you work with a trainer, BE FIRM. Tell them what you’re hoping to accomplish in the gym. You should have primary goals, and secondary goals

Losing excess weight that puts you at immediate risk for disease figures high on the priority list–especially if you have a family history of, say, breast cancer. Or hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.

Improving your balance and coordination is an acceptable secondary goal, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis (where a nasty fall could result in a serious bone break).

THAT SAID, I’d still prioritize building some bone with resistance training and weight-bearing cardio.  

* If you don’t work with a trainer, consider your available workout time and allocate the majority of your time to the types of exercise that will get you closer to your goals–which might be losing unhealthy fat, building muscle, boosting your cardiovascular capacity or strengthening your body.

It only makes sense. If any of these are your primary goals, plant both feet on the floor (or treadmill, sidewalk or park path) and get on with a real workout. Save the one-legged act for later in your workout. Or when you’re at home, watching the news.

And, by the way, weight training properly involves and strengthens your core.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2010 3:36 pm

    Kathleen, first let me say that I am so enjoying your blog. I signed up using your email option so I am sucessfully receiving the posts as you publish them. Second – it is very helpful to read information about working out for women in our age group, from someone I know and trust. My goals in priority order are to lose 30 lbs, tone, and increase my flexibility. Since it has been quite a while, I am currently trying out different things to see what I like because my experience has been that if I don’t have any interest in performing certain tasks in the long run I will not do them and they are easy targets for falling off of my list of priorities. I know that I am the type of person that MUST be in a group in order to work out. I am not disciplined to work out alone, I will wander off to something more appealing, so I am currently participating in a Tai Chi class once per week, and today I participated in a Pilates class for the first time. My plan is to add a few different types of work outs during the week, decide what I like and continue. I need to pick a low level aerobics and a weight training class. Any suggestions on what I should include in the weight training class other than what you have posted here?

  2. kafe55 permalink
    January 16, 2010 8:17 pm

    Hi Amanda! A weight training class would be terrific. Ideally, you’ll learn basic movements to work your entire body and learn how to perform them safely. I would simply try out the class and see how you like the instructor and general vibe in the class. Then…just keep at it! Weight training is something we ALL should be doing!

    In order to progress, you’ll want to increase the poundage you use when it starts getting easy for you to perform 12-15 repetitions with a given weight. Only you can determine when that is! Also, try to work out with weights at least twice a week.

    Putting on a little muscle mass while decreasing body fat will give you that better tone you’re looking for–but proper nutrition is critical. You can exercise 5 days a week, but you won’t see positive changes unless you’re eating well.

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