Entries in Gym (6)


How Accurate Are Exercise Machines?

IT Stock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- They crunch your calories, calculate your distance and tabulate your heart rate, but how accurate are those exercise machines on the floor of every gym?

Sixteen percent of Americans belong to a health club, and many rely on the machines to keep track of calories burned, distance traveled and heart rate reached. Despite a still-faltering economy, health club memberships have increased by more than 10 percent over the past three years -- 50.2 million Americans belong to a health club, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association.

So it's become more important than ever to learn more about what these machines can do. ABC News' Linsey Davis headed over to New York Sports Club in New York City to investigate.

After running for one mile on a treadmill, the machine logged 94 calories burned. But what was her body really burning? To get an answer, Davis was fitted with an oxygen analyzer, which can count calories burned down to the decimal point, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

After doing the exact same warmup that she did for her first treadmill run, Davis ran another mile at the same pace. The oxygen analyzer counted only 75 calories -- about 20 percent less than the gym's treadmill.

Experts said the discrepancy in calorie counts occurs because treadmills take only limited factors into account, such as pace, weight and age. They generally do not factor in running form, metabolism or specific body type.

"The best it can do is give you an estimate based on generalities," exercise physiologist Polly de Mille told ABC News.

Manufacturers acknowledged that the machines produce rough estimates, but said they were getting more accurate as the technology improved, and that in any event, they provided useful guidance to exercisers.

What about the heart-rate monitor?

Davis hopped on an elliptical machine to compare its monitor to the specialized one she'd strapped to her chest. According to the machine, her heart rate stood at 136 beats per minute, while the specialized monitor logged 135 beats per minute. Even when Davis sped up her pace to test her own limits, the elliptical monitor showed 175 beats per minute compared with the monitor's 173 beats per minute -- it was pretty accurate.

And what about distance?

Experts said treadmill belts could wear out or stretch over time, but that with regular maintenance, a mile on the treadmill would be the same as a mile run outdoors.

But if a mile on a treadmill is truly a mile, why does it feel as if you're working so much harder when running outdoors?

"There are many things in that mile that might dramatically affect how you're maintaining a certain pace," said de Mille.

Treadmills are housed in climate-controlled gyms or homes. When running outdoors, the temperature can vary tremendously, which can have a notable impact on the difficulty of that mile.

When running on a treadmill, your legs are pulled back, whereas outdoor runners have to pull their body weight over their feet with each stride, meaning it takes more effort to cover the same distance.

But there is a way to make sure your treadmill workouts are as tough as your outdoor workouts.

"If you put it up to between one and two percent in elevation," said de Mille, "It'll re-create the demand of some wind resistance."

Some believe this is sweating the small stuff, but those calories do add up, and next time, you may have to run just a little bit faster.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study: Everyday Activities Can be Just as Beneficial as Going to Gym

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study reveals that everyday activities can be just as beneficial as going to the gym, Health Day reports.

Researchers discovered that an active lifestyle appeared to be just as effective as structured exercise in providing health benefits such as preventing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and risks for coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Short stretches of physical activity, like raking leaves, taking the stairs or pacing while talking on the phone instead of sitting, could all be just as beneficial as a trip to the gym, Health Day says.

The researchers also discovered that 43 percents of adults who did short stretches of physical activity met the federal physical guidelines of 30 minutes of daily exercise, according to Health Day.

The study was published in the January/Februrary issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Top Nine Gym Pet Peeves

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Getting in shape is near the top of almost everyone's list of New Year's resolutions.  That's why the ranks of gym memberships swell by an average of 12 percent every January, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Unfortunately, with such a crowd comes a lot of bad behavior.  When ABC News asked readers on social media what bugged them about their fellow gym goers, ABC got an earful.

Here are the nine most common complaints:

DNA Puddles

"I can't describe the disgust I feel when I go on a machine or bench following another person and they don't have the courtesy to wipe it down," said blogger Jeff Gordon.  Gordon and many others said it shouldn't be too much to ask everyone to carry a towel and wipe off equipment after each use.

Space Hogs

In the gym, weight equipment is considered communal property, so don't sit on a machine while you rest between sets.  It's common courtesy to stand up and let a fellow gym member "work in" with you -- that's gym-speak for share nicely.

Machine Bullies

If Space Hogs had an equally evil twin, it would be the pests who hover nearby, ready to pounce the instant you go over the 30 minute time limit on the elliptical machine or who practically snatch the weights out of your hands before you've finished your last rep.  Karen Davis Athanassiadis, a student, said she despises "those who with much bravado demand you get off the treadmill!"

Onerous Odors

Extreme body odor, coffee breath, stinky feet, flatulence and overpowering perfumes -- enough said.

Noisy Neighbors

Save your conversations for elsewhere.  In the gym, no one wants to hear it, especially if you're yakking on a cellphone at a high decibel level about what's for dinner.  Chit-chatting seems to be especially prevalent in group fitness classes, forcing some gyms to institute a "no cellphone use while taking class" policy.

Exercise Faux Pas

The gym police are watching and they don't like what they see.  So if you're lifting more weight than you can handle, walking on the treadmill at 1 mile per hour while flipping through a magazine, or inventing a pointless exercise, please stop.  Nothing infuriates nutritionist Tony Ricci more than watching some guy use a massive squat rack for lightweight arm curls.  "Curling an Olympic bar with 5-pound plates on each side is a borderline useless movement that can be done anywhere in the gym.  It need not be done on a structure meant for real moves like squats, power cleans and deadlifts," he said.

Locker Room Exhibitionists

When you strut around the locker room, construction coordinator Dave Lukas asked, "Is it so hard to put a towel around you waist?!"  While everyone understands you must be nude for some period of time while you change, few have any tolerance for the guy or gal they perceive as remaining on display for too long.  It's an even bigger locker room pet peeve than the towel hoarder or the sink slob.


Think twice before you offer unsolicited advice.  Not everyone appreciates it.  Ashley Nesby, an administrative coordinator, put it best: "I don't like when men think it is part of their civic, intrinsic duty to help us less fortunate, weaker and hopeless women with our weights, form or our well-thought-out routines in the gym.  It's almost as if their goal, besides haphazardly leaving monstrous weights strewn about the gym, is to teach us pretty little ladies how things should be done."

Unfit Fashion

More people than you realize are offended when you show up for a workout wearing jeans, especially if they're super short cutoffs that display your naughty bits every time you bend over to stretch your hamstrings.  But wearing shades and a Bluetooth headset -- that's the worst offense of all.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Majority of Gym Members Dread the New Year’s Resolutions Crowd

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many people have made New Year’s resolutions to get in better shape in 2013, but some current and regular gym members aren’t thrilled about it.

A new survey conducted by Harris Interactive finds that 56 percent of current gym members somewhat dread the New Year’s resolution crowd.  Fifteen percent say they completely dread the newcomers. 

The regulars feel the New Year’s resolution folks make the gym crowded and take up machines.

But don’t despair, regulars.  The survey finds that 11 percent of adults have signed up for a gym membership as a New Year’s resolution and quit before the year was up.  Women are less likely to give up in less than a year than men, 14 percent and eight percent, respectfully.

Eighty percent of adults who have given up on the gym within a year, did so within the first five months of signing up.  Four percent quit in January and 14 percent gave up in February.

The Harris Interactive survey was conducted online between Dec. 17 and 19, and involved 2,309 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gym Apologizes for Using Nazi Death Camp Photo in Ad

This undated photo of the railroad track in the Auschwitz concentration camp resembles the photo used in the controversial Circuit Factory advertisement. Junko Chiba/The Image Bank/Getty Images(DUBAI) -- The owner of the Circuit Factory, a gym company based in Dubai, has apologized for putting out an advertisement featuring a photo of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

The advertisement, which was uploaded onto the gym’s Facebook group, features the Circuit Factory Logo above a picture of the train tracks leading to the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan “Kiss Your Calories Goodbye.”

Roughly 1.3 million people, mostly Jews, were killed at Auschwitz from starvation, backbreaking labor and gas chambers.

The photo has since been taken down by Phil Parkinson, founder of The Circuit Factory, who has issued an apology.

The Circuit Factory Facebook page had a new picture up Friday that reads, “Our values involve raising the quality of people’s lives, through physical exercise. Not cruelty or suffering. We made a big mistake and we are truly sorry.”

The apology has been grudgingly accepted by the Anti-Defamation League’s National Director Abraham Foxman, who is a holocaust survivor. But he wondered whether the younger generations were aware of the horror of the Nazis’ reign of terror.

“We are increasingly troubled by both the ignorance and mindset of a generation that appears to be so distant from a basic understanding of the Holocaust that it seems acceptable to use this horrific tragedy as a gimmick to bring attention to promoting losing weight,” Foxman said in a statement on the group’s webpage.

The advertisement has ignited a firestorm of criticism on Twitter

"Talk about poor judgment!" one user wrote.

"Outrageous," another one tweeted.

In the aftermath of the criticism, Parkinson issued contradictory statements, initially apologizing for the advertisement and then denying responsibility for it.

“I can’t really do much more than apologize about this. I wish I could, but I can’t,” Parkinson tweeted. He added that the marketing person responsible for the advertisement had been fired.

However, the Circuit Factory’s Facebook group told another story. There Parkinson seemed to imply that the advertisement was the work of someone unaffiliated with the gym. He posted a statement there saying:

"*** IMPORTANT *** Hi Guys and Girls, a random guy just put up a poster with an image from the holocaust and it had the CF logo on it -- It went on the CF Fan Page. This person was simply looking to stir up trouble and upset more people. It is sad because this page is used to recount stories of people’s personal triumph, but we cannot stop people from using our logo in cyberspace.”

Although Circuit Factory Group page is functioning, the fan page for the gym has since been taken down.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fat Weight Loss Experts Fight Misperceptions

BY LIZ NEPORENT, ABC News Medical Unit

(NEW YORK) -- Being called a fatty in front of 200 people is embarrassing for anyone. When you're a registered dietitian getting paid to lead a discussion on dieting and weight loss it's especially humiliating.

Bill Bradley grew up fat in a family of fat people who were obsessed with Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous. Even at points in his life when he wasn't particularly overweight, he was still focused on food, eating and weight. That he chose dietetics as a profession is a bit like being raised as an arsonist and deciding to become a firefighter.

As Bradley began his internship, he was in a relatively svelte phase. He recalls encountering some overweight dietitians during his training and wondering how they had the audacity to give anyone guidance about shedding pounds. They so obviously wore their own struggles with food on their sleeve -- and thighs, buttocks and waistlines.

Bradley's coursework was stressful. Food helped him deal with the stress. By the end of his internship, he found himself in the uncomfortable position of being one of those chubby health experts dispensing advice not personally followed.

Now faced with a mocking question about his burgeoning belly in front of a large crowd, Bradley felt a momentary wave of shame pass over him but quickly recovered. He spoke from the heart and he spoke the truth.

"I'm not perfect and I have struggled with weight issues my whole life," he responded. "That's why I'm a dietitian. Not just to help other people, but to stay focused on helping myself too."

It's an interesting thing to be both a person who assists others with weight loss while battling weight demons of your own. Bradley points out that the vulnerability of such a professional conundrum has worked to his advantage because it makes him more accessible to clients. It's a lot easier confessing a midnight run for cookie dough ice cream to a nutritionist who has taken that same trip many times himself than to one who is a size zero vegan.

On the other hand, what gives someone the right to dispense health information they don't follow, won't follow or can't prove works? Isn't their credibility buried underneath a mountain of excess flab?

While Bradley has since lost weight and believes he never lost clients or potential clients because he didn't look the part, he admits he wouldn't go to an obese cardiologist. Which is exactly what Joseph F. Majdan was before he dropped "epic amounts of weight" about 18 months ago.

In Majdan's case, it was his fellow doctors, not his patients, who let him know how they felt about his adiposity. Over the years, they called him names like Fat Albert and asked if his lab coats were made by Omar the Tentmaker. In one particularly cruel and damaging episode, an oncologist refused to send a patient to him dismissing him as too fat to be a good doctor. She came to see him anyway, choosing to judge him not by the depth of his fat tissue, but by the depth of his character.

"My colleagues will look at cancer and drug addiction with compassion but some cannot look at overweight in the same vein," Majdan said. If they treat one of their own with such distain, what must they think of their obese patients?

Majdan said that in a way, fat has become a civil rights issue. "It's one of the last remaining prejudices where it's PC to make jokes at someone's expense. Perhaps that's why it's easy to be so judgmental about fat health experts," he said.

You can poke at the soft belly of your fat nutritionist or doctor (or nurse or personal trainer) and accuse them of being a hypocrite like a divorced marriage counselor or barber with bad haircut. It's easy to be dismissive if you've never fought against the complex cocktail of DNA, environment, health habits and dozens of other factors that make fat cling to our bodies.

Even when you've done everything right, you sometimes still come out on the gaining end. Going to school and learning all you can does not exempt you from the biological struggle. It doesn't.

Both Bradley and Majdan say their desire to be at an ideal weight wasn't a response to any criticism. Like you and me, they wanted to be healthy and feel good about themselves. Perhaps this makes them ideal health experts: Someone who once was fat but now is thin.

This provides them with a good understanding of what 66 percent of the population who are overweight and obese go through on a daily basis, but allows them to look the part of the stick-thin genetic lottery winner. It's a lose-win scenario.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio