Despite cooler-than-typical springtime temperatures this week, gym and fitness workers say the number of memberships is heating up as residents aim to be physically fit by summer.
Local personal trainers are using the increase in business to encourage residents to focus on long-term fitness and nutrition instead of quick weight loss tricks and unhealthy dieting.
“It’s hard not to fall into the trends of tricks to lose weight quick, but unless you make a lifestyle change with healthier choices for yourself and set overall goals, everything you work to lose can fall by the wayside,” said Charlie Rex Andrews, a wrestler turned physical trainer at Anytime Fitness in Ozark.
“My goal is to help people increase their quality of life. That can’t happen when we don’t make our health a priority year-round.”
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released in September, at least 69 percent of Alabama’s nearly 4.8 million residents were overweight in 2010. Another 32 percent were obese with a Body Max Index of 30 or greater, according to the report.
Health initiative programs in the state like Scale Back Alabama encourage healthy weight loss over a period of time by offering group and individual prizes to residents who lose a set number of pounds in the time period.
While Andrews supports such initiatives, he said just as important as losing weight is exercising properly.
“One thing I like for people to focus on is form over weight,” he said. “A lot of people think heavier weights is the way to go, but if you focus on how you’re performing the exercise, you get much better results.”
Leonard Gray, owner of Divine Design Fitness in Dothan, said he uses his sports management background to provide post-rehabilitation, sports specific and personal training services that focus on the needs of each person.
Gray said a personalized program allows residents to enjoy the long-term benefits of health instead of the short term pleasure of sudden changes.
“The experience of a lifestyle change is not based on just one element,” he said.
“You can work out all day long, but if you’re not fueling your body with good food, you’re pretty much wasting your time. We focus here on what a lifestyle change really means. Nutrition and fitness go hand in hand.”
Andrews recommended reading public forums or finding specific professionals from whom to learn health information, versus getting information from infomercials and other advertisements.
“A lot of people get their health and nutrition information from advertising without knowing it,” he said.
“You have to remember their goal is to sell a product. By following regular people in forums or seeking the advice of a professional, you’re more likely to get realistic information.”
Residents should also not be ashamed to work out at a gym, he said.
“It’s important to have communities where people can support each other and help each other along with their results,” he said.
“Most gyms are welcoming environments for all fitness levels.”