What role do exercise and health clubs play in helping you lose weight? Take our Diet Wizard to find out whether Curves for Women, the YMCA, or Bally Total Fitness is the best weight loss program for you. Our comprehensive diet analysis examines your lifestyle and dieting preferences, and reviews your needs versus the major health club chains, commercial weight loss clinics like Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss and Jenny Craig, medical weight loss, healthcare pros, and popular celebrity diets. Then BestDietForMe.com provides you with unbiased, in-depth reports on your matches, complete with detailed reviews of health club exercise and weight loss programs, to help you choose a diet plan that’s right for you…
About Our Service
Factors Affecting Weight Loss
Diet Companies & Products
Exercise & Weight Loss
Summary - The Great Conflict
We in the United States have a major conflict between loving exercise and hating it, especially when combining it with weight loss programs. On the one hand, we buy billions of dollars worth of home exercise gyms, treadmills, stair climbers, Nordic track and abdominal machines--from retailers and infomercials alike. We INTEND to use them, but mostly they get used for a few months then collect dust in our closets or under the bed the rest of the year. We mean well and make those New Year's resolutions every year to exercise more.
One the other hand, we simply don't exercise enough to burn off all those super-sized fast food meals. Most of us are busy people, what with work and family responsibilities, and can't find the time to fit exercise into our daily lives, or eat healthy diets. Or, we're exercise fanatics, marathon runners and such. there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.
Most women detest having to incorporate regular exercise into their lives, or being told they have to exercise, in order to lose or maintain their weight. If they could take a magic pill that speeds up their metabolism, burns fat, or suppresses their appetite, without exercising, they'll swallow it in a minute. That's why Americans continually purchase those "newly discovered", "secret" diet pills with "ingredients used in Indonesia for thousands of years but available for the first time in the United States". If those substances really did exist, don't you think U.S. drug companies, who have billions to invest in research, would have found them already, instead of some rinky dink mail order company you never heard of?
It always comes back to the same equation--eat less calories and burn up more (via exercise), to maintain or lose weight. The government health agencies and our physicians have been telling us that for decades, but we still don't get it. We want the easy way out.
That's human nature, or at least American human nature. That's also why January is the biggest sign-up month for health club chains and weight loss programs.
How Do We Exercise - What Sports Do We Participate In?
The options available for us to exercise are plentiful...
* Create your own exercise program. Many consumers and dieters do this--either jogging, playing various sports, walking or working out at home with exercise videotapes and CDs, etc. Hundreds of millions of dollars each year is spent on exercise tapes and audiocassettes, by Denise Austin, Richard Simmons and other health gurus.
* Join a health club (Curves for Women, the YMCA, Bally Total Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym, other national and local chains). We have more than 18,000 of them in the U.S.
* Hire a personal trainer. This is the very customized and motivational method, but can get expensive--usually $50 per session. Hollywood actors and actresses are fond of this method, but most of us don't have Oprah Winfrey's budget.
* Use diet websites to obtain exercise tips. Sites such as eDiets.com have very sophisticated interactive tools, articles, and even simulated video of how specific exercises should be performed. These websites have gotten much better in recent years.
* Go to a luxury weight loss spa for a week, where the emphasis is heavy on exercise and eating a healthy diet. There are plenty of these weight loss spas. However, they are very pricey.
The 1970s was clearly the decade that distance running was in vogue (remember James Fix?). In the 1980s, Jane Fonda spearheaded the aerobics movement, as classes sprouted up all across America. In the 1990s, we took our exercise home with us by buying lots of treadmills, stationary bikes, abdominal machines (ab-flex, ab-roller, etc.), and Suzanne Somers’ thigh master.
Now into the 21st century, more Americans are going back to health clubs and gyms like Ballys and Curves for Women for different types of “group training.” These exercises range from high intensity classes like Tae-Bo and Spinning, to lower impact, stress management activities such as Yoga, Pilates and Tai-chi.
Tae-bo was recently popularized by international martial arts champion Billy Blanks, who has been teaching cardio-kick boxing for more than a decade.
Spinning is one of the most intensive workouts around, burning about 900 calories in a 60-minute class. Spinning is basically glorified stationary bike riding, led by a motivational instructor and loud, high-energy music.
Yoga was developed over 5,000 years ago in India to increase strength, flexibility and balance. Almost all forms of yoga in the West are varieties of hatha yoga.
Pilates was an exercise developed by Joseph Pilates, a European fitness guru in the 1920s. Pilates is an offshoot of yoga that strengthens your muscles with various exercises performed on mats and specially designed equipment.
Tai-Chi is an exercise performed mainly while standing and moving very slowly and methodically, twisting your body and raising and lowering your limbs. Participants focus on the center of their body and concentrate on executing all movements outward from there.
Following is The American Council on Exercise (a nonprofit workout watchdog group) fitness trend predictions for 2004. These trends reflect an increased demand for quick and intensive workouts by time-starved Americans as well as making exercise part of preventive care.
Here are ACE’s top 10 fitness trend predictions for 2007:
Expanded specialized fitness programming for older adults. A well-balanced fitness program offers many benefits for seniors. It conditions muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to help fight osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, keeping the body more limber and stabilizing joints to lower the risk of everyday injury and enhance overall quality of life.
Small-group training for all age groups. Small-group personal training (usually less than five individuals) continues to grow. Couples, families and friends will look to this option as a great way to receive the technical instruction and close supervision of personal training at a more economical cost. Specifically, this modified approach offers parents the opportunity to show their children that being active can be a fun and regular part of daily life. These sessions can offer a safe exercise option while under the supervision of a certified fitness professional.
A focus on youth programming. More and more kids are obese due to a lack of exercise and/or a high intake of calories. The growing waistlines of our nation’s youth can best be fought with a minimum of 60 minutes of accumulated physical activity each day. Fitness programs targeted toward children will grow as the impact of health status reports regarding the nation’s youth motivate community and program leaders, schools and parents to take action.
Personal trainers taking a team approach. Medical doctors, trainers and nutritionists will continue to make the connection that each member of the healthcare continuum can play a vital role in helping to prevent or reverse many of the disturbing health-related trends affecting our society. With a team approach, the likelihood of success is greatly improved.
Simple, affordable options and alternatives for workouts. Participants are looking for variety in their workout regimens. Simple walking programs or a “back-to-basics” approach can fit those needs. Moderately intense, daily activity can help prevent illness and prolong life. It is great way to meet people or include family and friends in a fit and active lifestyle. Home gyms can also be a comfortable and inexpensive place to work out. Many personal trainers come directly to the home to offer expert guidance. This can be very helpful to inexperienced exercisers.
Functional Fitness and Balance Training activities. Exercise programming and equipment (e.g., foam rollers, wobble boards, Bosu balls, etc.) aimed at improving individuals’ performance capabilities continue to be among the fastest growing and most popular exercise options. Health clubs and trainers are offering balance training programs and classes for virtually all levels and types of participants. Functional strength training and/or core strengthening activities enhance balance, coordination, strength and endurance in everyday activities. Focusing on exercising several muscles and joints together rather than working a particular muscle or group of muscles better prepares the body for daily activities and recreational pursuits.
The mind and body connect for a complete health and fitness experience. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi continue to provide an opportunity and an alternative to higher impact activities. The key elements of mind-body activities include proper posture, breathing and body awareness. By incorporating elements of mental and spiritual fitness, individuals will take better care of their entire being and psychological self, not just their bodies.
The best in personal training from experts in the field holding an accredited certification. Personal Training is frequently cited as one of the fastest growing professions and consumers are demanding competent practitioners. A certification accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) helps ensure that those trainers have been certified by an organization that has established high quality standards in certification. By earning a certification from an NCCA-accredited organization, fitness professionals are demonstrating to the public that they possess the knowledge to design and supervise safe and effective workout programs.
Accountability and measurement-focused programming. Technological advancements are making it possible to more precisely measure a wide variety physiological responses and document training program results. As an example, metabolic testing devices provide more accurate physiological data to improve weight management and performance programming. Such documentation will be necessary in order for insurance reimbursement for fitness services to become at reality in the near future. Consumers are also choosing to use downloadable programs to iPods, PDAs etc., that offer fitness programming with illustrations and/or streaming video.
Time-efficient workouts for those with tight schedules. A greater demand for group fitness classes and training sessions that are 45 minutes or less. Workouts and exercise programs will continue to respond to the critical need for time-starved Americans to get an effective workout in a very short period of time.
How Well Do Weight Loss Clinics Handle Exercise?
This is an area that most commercial weight loss companies can't seem to get a handle on, or choose not to. There is only one American commercial chain that BestDietForMe.com analysts know of that combines a weight loss program with on-site exercise equipment and classes--Inches-A-Weigh Weight Loss Centers (see excerpt in link on home page entitled: Diet Companies Included).
Companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig handle the dieting part, but tell you basically to find a way to design your own program or join a gym. Perhaps this is a logistical and liability issue. They may not have the space in a retail storefront for exercise machines, and they don't want people filing lawsuits against them if they injure themselves while working out. So, they leave it up to you.
This is unfortunate, because there are really 3 major components to successful weight loss: 1) nutrition, 2) motivation and psychological issues, and 3) exercise. The weight loss companies don't fully handle one of these three key components. They skirt the issue. They'll sell you exercise balls, pedometers, exercise tapes, exercise books, mats, clothing, and they'll give you exercise information and tips online or even via the phone. But, that's about as far as most go.
Some companies, such as Jenny Craig, go a little further, since their counselors are now trained and certified by The Cooper Institute, a well-known and respected fitness organization. In addition, phone support services offered by companies such as Medifast and Nutri-System may be staffed in part by personal trainers. Counseling is getting better, but it's still difficult to find a counselor who has in-depth knowledge of: nutrition, motivational skills, and exercise physiology. They usually know one or two, but not all three.
Summary of Health Club-Based Weight Loss Programs
In the United States there are about 18,000 health clubs operating today. A substantial share of them offers some kind of weight loss plan, in addition to just exercise. The reality is that most people that join health clubs are there to lose or maintain weight. The industry’s trade group "IHRSA" further reports that 32.8 million Americans are paying dues to be members of health clubs. Of these members, 51.6% are women. IHRSA reports that the big growth segment today is people over age 55, more of whom are exercising for quality of life concerns, not to lose weight.
Approximately 9,265 health clubs in the U.S. today are estimated by BestDietForMe.com to offer some form of weight loss or nutritional counseling program (about 52% of all clubs).
Health clubs such as Ballys Fitness, the YMCA, Curves and others find adding weight loss to be a "natural" for members, since the dieter has access to exercise facilities and expertise, as well as nutrition information -- a combination that’s rarely available at the typical commercial weight loss center.
According to Club Industry magazine... "Many club owners spend almost no money on paid advertising. One owner says that 90% of his new customers are referred by current or former clients.
Health clubs also recognize that they need to offer programs for pregnant women, the excessively overweight and older people. Nutrition service vendors say baby boomers will demand a greater variety of weight-management products, as they grow older and heavier.
Another telling quote: "We have all of them here in the area: Jenny Craig, Diet Center, Weight Watchers," ...But we don’t see them as competition. We get a lot of referrals from them because they see us as offering the exercise component they don’t. When we opened seven years ago our marketing strategy was to go to each of the commercial weight loss centers and offer to give talks on exercise and weight loss."
Exercise is NOT a primary component of most weight loss programs. There’s a big void between Jenny Craig, for example, and health clubs, say club owners. The health club is in a unique position to work with one of the weight loss clinics. For example, when one purchases a Jenny Craig diet program they could get a membership in a health club.
Some clubs hire a professional counselor or train an existing staff member to provide nutrition information. At other locations, a registered dietitian (RD) or nutritionist offers counseling, then gives the club a percentage of fees in exchange for free office space. Other strategies include homemade or turnkey programs, or simply selling non-prescription nutritional supplements and weight loss aids. Yet another alternative is to join forces with a commercial weight loss center.
According to consultants and industry insiders, fitness clubs are only beginning to aggressively market themselves as weight management and nutrition centers. Consumers sometimes talk about the Curves diet, for example. There really is no specific Curves diet since this is a health club chain. Club Industry reported that many club owners are focusing on current members to launch new weight loss programs. While media attention builds interest in the program, the "facilitator" (group leader) is the main reason why people stay with or leave the program (The same is true for popular group leaders in commercial diet programs).
Health club industry consultants also estimates that 50% of health cubs today offer some type of weight loss program, and they point out that they run the gamut in style, content and price. Frequently, they’re not called "diet" programs, but "nutrition" programs. All such programs are based on proper nutrition coupled with exercise. Personal trainers are getting involved as well, being bundled with a club’s nutrition program.
According to consultants, the most successful programs are found in health clubs where nutrition, fitness and weight management programming are the central themes to all other member activities. The typical price for a 12-week program with one-on-one counseling usually ranges from $129-299. Most health club owners undervalue their weight management programs. However, most clubs discover that the price of their weight management plan, in addition to the cost of a membership, still comes out less than fees charged by the large commercial weight loss clinics.
Associations | Eating Disorders | Weight Loss Info | Weight Loss Counselors | Meal Replacements | Diet Frauds | Stress Management | Diet Pills Report | Diet Books | Diet Infomercials | Diet Websites | The Non-Diet Movement
Diabetes & Weight Loss | Pregnancy & Weight Gain | Smoking Cessation & Dieting | Dieting for a Wedding | Diets & Medical Conditions | Diet Food Home Delivery Services | Self Improvement & Diet | Food Allergies & Weight Loss
Diet Books | Dietitians | Diet Pills | Family Weight Loss | Fasting Programs | Health Club Diets | Meal Replacements | Pregnancy and Weight Gain | Guidelines For Choosing The Best & Safest Diet Programs