I belong to two health clubs. At one I play racquetball and at the other I work out with free weights and swim in the pool.
I have noticed that most of the people who join these health clubs have an intense desire to improve their health. Yet, although they attend religiously two to seven times weekly, their health does not seem to improve. In many cases, it worsens.
REASONS HEALTH WORSENS
At first, I paid little attention to the fact that club members, instead of losing weight and getting stronger, were gaining weight and unable to exercise more than when they first started.
All health clubs have “Personal Trainers.” These are young people, generally very fit, who, for an hourly fee, instruct members on how to exercise. Most of them are the major part of the problem why most members do not improve.
WHAT IS EXERCISE?
Exercise is the use of the body, which includes the nervous system, to replicate physical stress in the natural world.
In order to survive, animals (we humans are animals) must have optimum ability to react to danger. All animals exercise in nature. When the animals are young, we call it “play”. We can see animals “playing” as they prepare to fight later in life.
Almost all humans engage in “sports.” Sport, like animals playing, is an activity that resembles “fighting ” in a real world scenario. we use “teams” instead of armies, but our emotions are almost as aroused during sports as they would be during real battles.
Exercise is the preparation to engage in sport or battle. The purpose of exercise is to make the body as strong and responsive as possible so that it can engage in sports or battle with success.
When we exercise or do sports we improve our fitness and health. The Greeks and Romans used exercise to prepare for battle.
Health clubs came into being approximately eighty years ago. Prior to their arrival people kept fit by engaging in sport or by working hard.
In sport or in hard work, the entire body is used. The entire body includes the brain and the nervous system. All muscles must be used! Not only the large most conspicuous muscles.
The biceps of the arm cannot function without the supporting muscles of the shoulder. The entire arm must be used as a functioning unit.
Exercising one muscle is detrimental to all the other supporting muscles that normally work together to achieve a task. That is the reason free weights are better than machines!
When we enter a Health Club the first thing that grabs our attention is the rows and rows of machines. There are machines that simulate walking, running and bicycle riding.
There are other machines that allow a member to exercise just one muscle, such as the biceps of the arm, the biceps of the leg, the triceps of the arm or the quadriceps of the leg.
None of these machines allows the member to use his arms or legs with the freedom needed. As a result of using these machines, we create individuals with large useless muscles who are not very “healthy” or “fit’ in the true sense of these words.
The term “Aerobic” was coined by Kenneth Cooper, M.D. in 1968. Dr. Cooper showed that extreme exercise could generate more arteries in the heart and other muscles.
As a result of Dr. Cooper’s studies the entire world became involved in doing strenuous exercise.
The commercial interests of the world took notice and they developed machines that apparently simulate aerobic exercising. These machines are lined up in rows in health clubs, almost invariably with a TV hanging in front of them so that exercisers need not be bored as they walk or run. These “aerobic’ machines have hand rails so that exercisers will not fall. Very few people actually run on these machines, and less run the required thirty minutes that Dr. Cooper recommended in his first book.
A large percentage of people using the aerobic machines hang on to the front of the machine or the rails, thereby eliminating the entire purpose for running. Running is a total body exercise and should be done either outdoors or on a treadmill without holding onto anything.
Some personal trainers are excellent, and advise their pupils on exercise physiology and good training methods. Others, without a fundamental knowledge of physiology, simply explain how to use the various machines thereby steering their students into habits that do not improve their health.
Exercise, in order to improve health, must be undertaken with the entire body which includes the mind and nervous system. Sports are the only means of achieving this goal.
Exercising one or a few muscles is detrimental. Using machines for exercise is harmful to the body. Because energy is required and because only one muscle is being utilized, weight gain is an inevitable result.
Aerobic machines are, almost always, a poor substitute for running, skiing or swimming. Their design does not permit the natural pace of running where different speeds are invariably necessary to adjust for different breathing and heart rates.
A runner on natural terrain does not press buttons each time he changes speed. A health club can be a boon if you live in a city. However, you should be able to play a sport or swim in your club.
If you want to use weights use “free” weights, weights that require muscles of the entire arm. Be aware that increased muscle mass means increased body weight. Increased body weight means increase fat cells over time.
When you join a health club use your brain as well as your body.