Before I popped the pill I noticed that it said it was 12-hour non-drowsy medication. It never even occurred to me that non-drowsy is code for this stuff could keep a dog-tired bull elk up all night after an especially busy day of servicing his horny harem.
I spent the first part of the evening tossing and turning until it hit me that I not going to get any sleep for the next twelve hours. So I tiptoed out of the bedroom and plopped myself down in front of the television for a marathon session of Fit TV from our Tivo’s now showing menu.
I must confess to at least one somewhat shameful guilty pleasure and that being watching health and fitness shows. I just can’t seem to get enough of watching ordinary people struggle to lose weight and get fit.
Please don’t send me emails as I know it is wrong to take small pleasure in other people’s fitness pain. But I suspect I like watching other people struggle to get fit because it reminds me of my own struggle, and its sort of fun to watch people work-out and not have to do it yourself.
And I’m betting I’m not the only one who likes to just sit back, relax, and watch other people exercise. My lunch time masters swim class at the local health club seems to be more popular to watch than The Young and the Restless. We may all not be young, but we are certainly restless.
Anyway my newest favorite fitness cable show is called Ship Out, Shape Out on Fit TV. Basically this is a reality show that takes 10 or so pretty overweight average Californians, and puts them on a one week Carnival Cruise to Mexico with 3 Hollywood Trainers.
The cameras follow the trainers around as they divide the group up and work with them to get them back into some sort of healthy shape. So we, the late night audience, get treated to an evening of watching these folks struggle trying to lose weight on a ship packed with enough fatty and sugary foods to feed the entire sub continent of Africa for about month.
The trainers scold their clients on the first night as they pack on the breaded coconut shrimp, fried spring rolls, chocolate puff pastries. The trainers give plenty of disapproving looks as the stunned clients pummel their bread with enough butter to send a French pastry chef into a buttery croissant baking orgy.
The next day the trainers get to work trying to shave a cool 20 to 50 pounds from the nervous clients. We get to watch as the clients try to do a never-ending series of push-up and sit-ups. These two old school exercises seem to be any trainer’s favorite “go to” drill when they first meet their clients. The problem is that most of these clients struggle to do just one sit-up or push-up, let alone 10 or 20 as the trainers planned.
After the initial struggle with the basics we get to witness the chubby clients attempt a variety of different exercise all aimed at getting them to shape up and slim down…and this my loyal readers is the trainer's dirty little secret.
The trainers tend to start each session with what they call a “cardial” session or workout. This usually involves them standing next to the treadmill, or leaning on it, as the clients struggles to rapidly walk for about 5 minutes, while the trainer chats about the weather or evils of coconut fried shrimp. After five minutes the heart is judged to be good and ready for an hour of stretching, strength building and weight lifting.
Please don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with core strength building, weight lifting, stretching and old school muscle building. These are key components to any long-term successful fitness regime…but what these folks desperately need is dietitian and running coach.
To put is simply, what’s the point of building muscle under layers and layers of fat. Won’t that just make you look, and perhaps feel, bigger and fatter? Is this not putting the proverbial cart before the horse?
I’m know that today’s trainers are well aware of the importance of diet and aerobic exercise. But they get put in a difficult situation. Most clients want to see immediate results, they want to have their hands held, they want personal motivation, and they want expertise as they exercise.
It’s very hard to provide all these things on a 4-mile jog and still get $60-$100 per hour. There’s just not enough technical difficulty to running or brisk walking for clients to see value in paying a trainer. And yet that’s exactly what the folks on the boat need most.
Just as importantly, most trainers have a very good idea of what makes a healthy nutritionally sound diet. But they didn’t go to school, like a dietician, for this disciple. So while they can and do make healthy eating recommendations, they don’t have the degree to back up these recommendations.
In the end the trainers on the ship spent a lot of time with their clients helping to build-up their muscles. Using various exercises, techniques and machines to tune-up and perhaps slim down.
But I’m still not all that convinced about the slim down part. I bet I’m not the only one who’s been at the gym and seem lots of very strong people with a bit of wash tub belly and perhaps some well-developed love handles.
But than again I’m now an aspiring triathlete and today I’m more concerned about the size of my lungs and strength of my heart versus the size of my pecks and biceps.