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Gym story: Pull ups and downfall, the a-z information one must have about fitness hubs

Everyone is going to gyms nowadays. They have become trendy and have mushroomed on every street corner

Dr Gita Mathai Published 21.02.24, 07:02 AM
istock.com/attostock

istock.com/attostock

Everyone is going to gyms nowadays. They have become trendy and have mushroomed on every street corner. Some are expensive, airconditioned and have fancy equipment. In contrast, others just have some essential machines. Gyms are unregulated, so when you join a gym, you must know its drawbacks and your requirements.

People are becoming aware of their health and fitness. It is often impossible for people to exercise at home as they are constrained by a lack of space and constant interruptions. Frustrated, people gradually lose motivation, and it becomes “I will start tomorrow”. Running on a pothole-filled road chased by stray dogs and chain snatchers, and facing the onslaught of traffic is also not very attractive.

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Many studies have shown that a combination of cardio workouts (elliptical, treadmill, cycling or rowing machines) and stretching and weight or resistance training is ideal. All this is available in gyms.

Gyms should ideally be joined only after the age of 18 years. Although there is a misconception that weightlifting will make you short, this is not strictly true. However, because your bones are still growing, improper technique can cause injury to the bones and joints.

When you join a gym, be aware of what exactly you want. If it is to lose weight, an hour of the above combination and a calorie-restricted diet will do the trick. Aim for a negative balance of around 500 calories a day. Within a few months, you will see excellent results.

Many young men join gyms to have a six-pack abdomen and a figure like a buffed movie star or a potential Mr Universe. They are willing to go to any lengths to achieve this goal.

The training may result in injuries if the gym does not have a certified trainer and “experienced users” to guide them. A trainer should be a qualified coach or trained physiotherapist or hold a sports degree. Trusting your body to an unqualified person is like asking a mason to construct your house without guidance from a civil engineer or an architect.

Often, the concentration is mainly on the upper body. The legs appear spindly and thin and eventually may develop problems because of the massive trunk and arms they have to balance. Gymming must be balanced, with both upper and lower body workouts.

Overuse and damage can be prevented by stretching and flexion before starting and after finishing. Consider this a good use of time.

In many gyms, youngsters are encouraged to take supplements and adjuvants to expedite muscle-building. People need to learn what is safe. The market is flooded with fancy products. There are blogs and personal guru videos of people who supposedly are on the supplement. There is a lot of dangerous misinformation on the Internet. These additives might be sold in your gym itself, or you may be encouraged by your coach or trainer to buy them online. It is an unregulated market.

Popular products are caffeine, creatine, citrulline malleate, glutamine, fish oils and whey protein. Caffeine prevents fatigue, and creatine builds muscle bulk. This helps lift heavier weights, and this helps dedicated athletes become stronger. However, the dose recommended on the bottle may be much higher than the dose recommended by doctors. The doses may be high enough to cause liver and kidney damage. Also, the supplements may be mixed with steroids. These are dangerous and can elevate blood pressure and damage all the organs in the body.

Becoming a “Mr Universe” is a lifestyle choice. Unless you are guided properly, it can have devastating consequences on your health and body.

Eating eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish is safer than poisoning your body with dangerous chemicals.

The writer has a family practice at Vellore and is the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to yourhealthgm@yahoo.co.in

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