30 Oct What is fit? Trainers try to describe it and how people can achieve it | News
So you want to get in shape.
People have lots of options to get the job done, from trail running, treadmills and bicycles to weightlifting and resistance training.
No matter what people choose, one question remains unanswered: What is fit?
On a purely technical basis, fitness is simply the ability to function in active environments that suits a person’s personal interests and goals, according to Jan Rushton, director of health and wellness with the Greenwood Family YMCA.
“When you break it down, it becomes a very individual thought process for each person,” she said. “People’s versions might be different.”
Take a weekend warrior who will work out three times a week, as opposed to a bodybuilder who is in the gym seven days a week, she said.
Or take girls who devote from 6 to 12 hours of training a week to learn gymnastic exercises to excel in a competition or develop skills that serve them in other sports, said Beth DeLoach, head coach and owner of Balance Point Gymnastics.
Or take a person who does a sweat fest with deadlifts, squats, weighted plates and even rings to develop functional strength, because as Justin Smith of CrossFit Greenwood says, you never know what life is going to throw at you.
It doesn’t necessarily depend on who you ask; they say it depends on what you want.
“I think I can do this”DeLoach and her staff work with up to 400 students and she said every child is different. The goal is to find out where the child excels and go from there.
“Everybody has their strengths,” she said. “That’s where they need to focus. They don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is not possible, but they know better than yesterday.”
While on television, gymnastics looks beautiful, graceful and powerful, but a visit to a gym can be a cold splash of reality.
Most of the building is covered with thick mats designed to absorb the impact of athletes hitting the ground. Towering over the mats are rings, bars and beams of all heights.
“When you se the beams, it’s intimidating,” said student Joselyn Sanford. “You don’t have a lot of room. If you slip, it hurts.”
Her comment elicited nods of agreement from fellow gymnasts as they exchanged briefs stories of mishaps.
Moving up and getting better keeps her coming back, Sanford said. For Kendra Kinard, the reward for success is seeing the smiles of her coaches and peers.
Criticism is not used in the gym, DeLoach said. Everyone works to create a positive and supportive atmosphere.
Gymnastics is a tough sport, she said. Kids have had to get past their fears. They see that hard work pays off, or note they tried a stunt 10 times and fell, but they got it on the 11th attempt.
“They don’t focus on the 10 falls; their focus is on the one time that they got it,” DeLoach said.
It can be intimidating, DeLoach said. Coaches work with the athletes and spot them. “Eventually the students say ‘I think I can do this.’”
During the interview, DeLoach gave a shoutout to a girl who tried a stunt and was about to faceplant. The girl knew how to fall, to tuck her head in and turn the fall into a roll, she said. “Bottom line is, she found a safe way to learn it.”
They all deal with mental blocks, according to student Abigail Torgerson. The trick is to get two coaches to watch and help you; then have one coach and then do it yourself.
The goal is to focus on the whole body, building up muscle tone and flexibility, DeLoach said. Practice involves doing exercises to music.
“They think they’re dancing, while actually, they are doing squats; the whole time, they’re burning their legs,” she said. “We try to make it a fun activity instead of doing push-ups.”
Once students develop their muscle tone, they can learn twice as fast because their body can handle the work, DeLoach said.
While several students are members of the competition team, DeLoach said many will go to other sports.
“These will be the strongest kids you’ll ever see,” she said. Regardless of whether they stick with gymnastics, or move to dance, cheerleading or soccer, they will be top of the line.
“I’ve had people tell me ‘she’s the best soccer player ever,’ and DeLoach explains, “Well, she was a gymnast to start off with.”
Parents have told her of their surprise to realize their daughters’ arms are cut. DeLoach also said some of them are shocked during the summer to realize their daughters have abs.
While some girls might have reservations about activities, DeLoach shuts down the doubts. “I’ll tell them if an old lady can do it, you can do it.”
Fitness is serious businessPeople are looking to get fit for life, especially with COVID-19, Justin Smith said. They’re looking to get as fit as they can be. That’s where CrossFit comes in.
The business lacks mirrors on the wall and except for a few stationary bikes, no machines are used.
“In here, there are no machines; we are the machines,” Smith said. “We do all the work. Every movement we do here transfers to life: deadlifting, squatting, pressing and bodyweight.”
That’s certainly true in the Masters class, which is designed for older people. People 60 and older, men and women, bend for weighted squats, perform deadlifts and walk with weighted plates.
All the exercises can be modified to accommodate a person’s age and ability, said coach Justin Jenkins.
Some of the barbells featured light weights for female athletes; some of the men did squats with weights that might impress teenagers.
Rosey Baldwin said she didn’t like CrossFit when she started. She couldn’t jump rope nor even perform one sit-up and couldn’t jog from one end of the building to the other. Today, she can do 100 sit-ups.
“Now I love it,” she said. “We’ve come a long way.”
Fist bumps and good-natured ribbing prevail, even with one athlete mock complaining that another woman was touching her husband.
“It’s a team atmosphere here, Smith said. People encourage each other.
In CrossFit, fitness is defined as functional movement over a broad time at high intensity.
“Intensities vary with people, he said. “As you improve you get better fitness; that’s where the magic happens.”
The magic is for people of all ages, from youths to senior citizens, from older people who want to increase bone density to avoid accidents (an increasingly popular goal), to people who want to keep up with their children and grandchildren, according to Smith.
Some take it seriously, such as John Gary, who placed 12th in the worldwide CrossFit event in 2018. After a leg surgery, he is competing in qualifying events to return to a global competition, this time in the 60-65 age division.
Others, such as David Garner, opted to become a coach after seeing what CrossFit did for them.
Since starting CrossFit three years ago, Garner has lost 100 pounds. He said he has worked as a coach for one year. The journey for weight loss had turned into a passion, he said.
“I saw the good it can do in people’s lives,” Garner said. He started making gains in his second year.
“We are all capable of so much more than we realize. We just need someone or something to help us realize our potential,” he said.
Fitness is a process; it’s never-ending,” Smith said. “It’s a lifelong journey and one that is worth going on. There are only two ways people will go; either they are getting better or they’re declining; you never stay the same way.”
Fitness features all kinds of improvement, mentally as well as physically. Smith used to coach basketball. He said he would work out in the morning and the accomplishments would set him up to have a great day.
In a sense, society discourages fitness, he said. It’s frustrating to see the government not focusing on things that would really help people, such as how to eat good foods and exercise.
“How many lives would that save each year?” he asked. “If they sent out that message, we’d have a a lot healthier country and world.”
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer. It’s a pandemic, Smith said. “We have a pandemic of bad health and bad food, all of which lead to heart disease. If there were good food and wellness, it would really help out a lot of people.”
Despite all the equipment available, fitness largely comes down to motivation.
“There’s never a time when somebody can’t do a movement,” Smith said. “As long as you have a positive attitude and want to improve, that’s all you really need.”
A process and a goalMotivation is part of Rushton’s work at the YMCA.
A lot of people put thought into their goals. As a trainer, she said she asks “What do you want, what are your goals? Where do you want to see yourself go in the next three months?
“You have to answer that question,” she said.
“Everything starts up here,” Rushton said, pointing at her head. “It’s never about physical; it’s all mental.”
Fitness is as much a process as a goal. “I think it’s a combination of both. You have to set a goal, but it’s the process that gets you to the goal. They go hand in hand. You can’t just say ‘I want to work out.’ There has to be a goal.”
‘”When I teach a class, I want to drive my class and motivate people to understand that it’s OK to be a little uncomfortable when you’re doing things. You have to push a little bit to grab the brass ring.”
Sometimes people need to be reminded what it was like learning to ride a bike, Rushton said. What was the thought process? It was probably “I can’t do this.”
Your dad was at the back of the bike and he said to pedal, she suggested. In time, he let go and suddenly you’re pedaling. It’s like “Oh my God, I didn’t think I can do this.”
“That’s a magic trick,” Rushton said.
A push-up is another example. Rushton said people tell her all the time they can’t do one. Then she shows them what she wants them to do and they do it.
That was proved in a class featuring people of all ages who were doing everything from sit-ups and kettlebell lifts to rope exercises and ball throwing.
Her philosophy about fitness hasn’t changed, Rushton said. It’s always been about educating people. If you get people the information they need to succeed most of them will succeed. That’s really never going to change.
“It’s all mental. If you hire me, you have to believe in what I’m telling you,” she said.
You can take the best trainer in the world and if he’s working with someone who hasn’t bought into what he’s saying, that person will not succeed, she said.
“I don’t set your goals; you set your goals. You have to own your own goals,” Rushton said.
Like Smith, Rushton had little favorable to say about diets.
“Mainstream America is probably one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. Look at fast food and people shuttling between activities and they don’t have time to cook a meal,” she said.
Think about the dynamics of the family unit, she said. Cooking isn’t done much anymore, so it becomes a fast-food fix.
“If we’re going to rely on fast food, we need to navigate between what is a healthy choice for fast food,” she said.
People don’t have to go to a gym, she said. Walking is a top way to exercise. Take a walk around your neighborhood, ride a bike. Walking and cycling are two of the best ways to exercise.
Part of her work as a trainer is to get people a broader view of what they are able to do.
An example is a person who wants to lose 80 pounds. If you lose 10 pounds and then think you have 70 pounds to lose, that’s deflating. Rushton said her work is to break it down into manageable increments.
“I call it the hook,” she said. “If you lose 10 pounds, that’s motivation. If you lose 10, you can lose 10 more. You’re not looking at the big numbers; you’re looking at the smaller numbers.
“When you lose the big number, that’s the ‘Glory Jesus, hallelujah’ moment,” she said.
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