Think being in great shape is about going to the gym or healthclub with the newest and best equipment? Think again! If you’re looking to improve your level of fitness and lose weight, simple equipment will get the job done, just as well, if not better. Basic exercises done with dumbbells, bodyweight, tubing, bands, medicine balls and stability balls, are all that is needed in most cases. Exercises that can be done at the healthclub or at home, if you prefer. Exercises that can be done in a circuit, alternating from lower body to upper. Over the years, I’ve exercised or worked at various different healthclubs and gyms, all with different equipment and atmospheres. Starting out in my basement as a teenager with a cheap Sears weight bench and plastic-coated weights, then trying the local YMCA with it’s free weights and also doing Nautilus workouts for a while. In college, I spent three semesters training with one of my teachers and her husband in the basement of a Salvation Army. This powerlifting gym had no machines, just barbells and lots of weights. Anyone who wanted to work out there was welcome, as long as you did the basic lifts – bench press, squat, and deadlift. I wasn’t interested in competing in powerlifting ( my teacher was a world champion), but wanted to learn how to get stronger for sports. This was a unique experience, two of my fellow trainers won collegiate championships and three of the women squatted over three hundred pounds in competition.
Later on, I spent time working in different healthclubs and in rehab settings, all of them having slightly different equipment. What I discovered, is that it’s not the equipment, it’s the program – working hard and working smart. Understanding the principles of exercise. To illustrate this, I’ll share a story about a healthclub I worked at. It was one of the finest facilities in the country, the owners also owned a professional sports team, who had their own private facility at this complex. It had all the latest equipment, including computerized weight machines that remembered the seat position and amount of weight for each person. A big selling point for those with little previous experience. I was assigned a client for her three introductory sessions, that came with a new membership. She had been busy and didn’t schedule her first session right away. Instead, she came in with her sister and followed her workouts a few times. I had previously worked with her sister, also. On her first official visit, we headed back to do the consultation and assessment. As we walked past the equipment, she commented that the fat people were over here (the computerized equipment) and the skinny people were over there (the free weights).
I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but in my mind I agreed with her and thought that she was quite observant.
This facility also trained quite a few athletes, from high school and college to NFL football players. I sat in on some of their sessions, which included the use of dumbbells, tubing, bodyweight exercises, stability and medicine balls, and even stair training. So while state-of-the-art equipment can play a role in achieving better health and fitness, for most people it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Proper understanding and application of the principles of exercise are most important. You can achieve significant weight loss working with simple equipment at home or the gym.