GYM: Weight loss or lifestyle change?

By By Shasimana Uugulu
November 2010
OFTEN many people would make going to the gym one of their new year’s resolutions. Paying for a gym membership but not finding the time to attend is the experience of many.

The first week of January is always the busiest time for any gym in Windhoek, Africa and across the world since many people make it a lifestyle to commit to start working out.

This year is fast coming to an end. 2011 is upon us. New resolutions have already been made, but many have not kept true to their current year resolution of working out.

Windhoek based fitness instructor, Freddy Kustaa, says committing to a gym depends on an individual’s gym needs, self-motivation and time management strategies.

“Most people’s decisions to go to the gym are based on numerous factors. In most cases many people would come to the gym normally for weight loss while others would start going to the gym after their doctors have recommended them with others going to the gym just to keep fit,” he says.

However, there is more to going to the gym than just a matter of being physically fit or losing some kilos.

“Going to the gym is a mental, physical and spiritual experience which gives one a chance to associate with people who share the same concerns and aspirations. This experience boosts self confidence in these individuals as they pursue their goals of being physically fit and healthy,” Kustaa says.

While coming to the gym will also open up chances of building new relationship, according to Kustaa, achieving results is not determined by the fact that one exercises hard or not.

It is a lifestyle that requires one to change some particular habits in their life such as daily diet, he adds.

He argues that while many people join gym sessions with high expectations, results at the gym will be determined by the level of self-motivation which is a driving force that would make them commit.

True, many people would normally get bored if they keep getting the same exercise routines with little effect and the biggest challenge is simply keeping interest in going to the gym, especially after the first enthusiastic six weeks.

The trainer says people who normally get bored with gym often do not know what they are doing or how to achieve results, saying that if one was noticing a flatter stomach or better developed chest and arms, they would keep on going to the gym.

“The same principle would apply to a woman who went from wearing a size 18 to a size 10 after coming to the gym, as this motivates her to keep exercising. But if she is not seeing those results she would fall back into old habits.”

Yet, according to Kustaa, for the gym exercises to bring about results it should be accompanied by a good diet plan emphasising that if an individual’s eating behaviour is not changed there will be little or no results at all.

“When it comes to weight loss, the gym is only responsible for about 40% of the results. The remaining 60% should come from the individual’s good diet plan in consultation with their nutritionist,” Kustaa notes.

Normally, when a new member joins a gym, their body measurements such as body mass, and height are recorded and they are required to set up their own personal goals that will serve as exercising targets.

These measurements are necessary as they help track the person’s progress as well as the results reached when they are reviewed often after three or six weeks.

Becoming a member of a gym is the first step an individual who likes to commit to a gym and change their lifestyle should undertake.

Sergio-Serge Geiseb, a Fitness Instructor with Nucleus Health and Fitness Club says a gym membership is important to the individual as well as to the gym management.

While Kustaa is based at Virgin Active, the biggest gym in Namibia, Nucleus Health and Fitness Club has about five thousand registered members.

“There is no age restriction when it comes to training. At Nucleus, we urge individuals to take up exercising very seriously as it contributes to mental stability and boost the immune system as well as physical fitness,” says Geiseb.

But Kustaa is worried by the fact that it is women mostly who go to gyms consistently.

“Exercise is very important to all people. I understand most women come to the gym so that they maintain a good body shape. Exercise increases your life span and helps make one’s heart stronger and healthier, so men must not take it lightly,” he says.

“Our hearts are like the engine. The heart gets lazy if you do not exercise it. That is why in most cases, you hear that a certain man has died of a heart failure while working on his lawn, why? Simply because the heart is weak, no exercises. Our bodies are like cars, if you do not service them regularly they will give mechanical problems.”

Kustaa challenges young people to emulate prominent elderly people who exercise regularly and keep physically fit like Ministers Hage Geingob, Andimba Toivo yaToivo and Alpheus !Naruseb who come to the gym regularly.

Virgin Active is the largest and arguably the best equipped gym in Namibia with indoor swimming pol, squash courts, a full range of weights machines, aerobics classes and saunas and a warm pool all year round, while its competitor, Nucleus has two gyms in the capital.

Kustaa believes that exercising should be encouraged from early ages particularly in schools since this will develop into a sort of a lifestyle for those individuals.

One does not necessary need to go to the gym to keep fit as running at home or exercising daily also contributes to physical fitness and body wellness.

The only difference, according to Kustaa, is that by coming to the gym one gets special attention from instructors and makes use of modern machines for exercising which are quite expensive.

Physical fitness experts like Kustaa and Geiseb are of the opinion that the best time for exercising is 5am when the body is full of energy and in a balanced mental state.

Windhoek parastatals and businesses have seen a number of new gyms mushrooming in the workplace. MTC recently opened a gym at its headquarters, and Old Mutual also has one inside the elegant Mutual Tower. Nampower, Sanlam, Namcor are some of the companies who now have gyms in their workplaces, a good sign for competition for established institutions such as Virgin Active and Nucleus.

However the question remains, who goes to exercise in these gyms? What time of the day or week do they exercise, and whether it is compulsory or mandatory to exercise? Only then can one conclude that in Windhoek going to the gym has become part of lifestyle change than weight loss campaigns. PF