Why Gyms Make You Fat!

Wow! What a statement! Who would have thought that belonging to a gym will make you fat? However, for many, that is the case.
As an Exercise Physiologist who specializes in weight management and body transformation and has spent over 26 years in the health and fitness industry, trust me when I say there is validity to this statement.

Do not get me wrong, exercise is full of unlimited health benefits and can assist in the weight loss process; however, this happens ONLY when nutrition is in control. This is the first rule in the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”– you cannot out-exercise a crappy, high caloric diet.

Industry statistics document that we (the US as a society) have more gyms and more gym members than ever before, yet no change in the number of overweight people (adults and children). If anything, some statistics are showing a rise in the number of individuals who are overweight or obese.

Even a recent article from Women’s Health by Kenny Thapoung (October 7, 2013 issue), “How the gym can make you gain weight,” touches on this. In this article, a U.K.-based company polled 1,000 people on their diet and exercise habits and found that 26 percent of the people surveyed actually packed on pounds after they started going to the gym.

Why would this be happening? Common logic for many is when they want to lose weight; the solution is to join a gym. But for many, this logic is flawed or incomplete. I believe the following reasons explain why this may happen:

  • – False sense of metabolism
  • – Mixed messages
  • – Lowest risk and asking wrong questions
  • – White lies by gyms
  • – No specific personalized targets

False sense of metabolism: This refers to when people start exercising; they think they can eat whatever they want without regard to the quantity of food consumed. This is no different than when a young man, for example, gets his first job and because he now has a job, thinks he can buy whatever he wants, no matter how high the price. Just because someone earns a paycheck doesn’t mean he/she can spend more than he/she earns. The same goes with exercise and what we eat. You can eat ANYTHING you want – You just can’t eat EVERYTHING you want.

Additionally, it isn’t uncommon to become hungrier as a result of exercising. However, many times the volume of food consumed to satisfy the increase in hunger is not in proportion—but rather greater than—the increase in metabolism created from starting to exercise when joining a gym.

Mixed messages: This refers to what is seen on TV. Take the “Biggest Loser™” reality show for instance. On the show, everything is built around the workout; however, trust me, if they were not controlling what they ate behind the scenes, those workouts would not be as effective. More communicators of mixed messages are info-commercials showing exercise equipment that will either spot reduce or cause you to drop weight without mention of controlling caloric intake (unless written in small print or said at the speed of an auctioneer). It is no wonder that the general public would assume that if they need to lose weight, just go to the place with equipment (aka a gym) or where they can exercise like on the Biggest Loser™.

Lowest risk and ask wrong questions: This refers to the time when people do make the commitment to lose weight and go out in search of a gym. Many are hesitant and don’t want to waste any money, so they call around asking for prices and pick the gym that is the cheapest. With this mindset, these individuals are already are thinking they will not be successful, so better choose the lowest price gym rather than actually research what resource (gym, programs, etc…) can actually solve their problem and explain clearly how they will do it.

If you are frustrated with your current weight and looking for help, before committing to any program, gym or personal trainer, you should meet one-on-one and ask to hear their plan of attack and how it will fit with YOUR lifestyle or as we call it “L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle”. DO NOT ASSUME just because it is a place to exercise you will lose weight.

Any safe and effective weight loss program or resource should be able to lay out a clear plan with a timeline of when and how much weight you should lose WITH or WITHOUT exercise. If this isn’t happening and you are in search of weight loss, then you are at the wrong place.

White lies by gyms: In the pursuit to sell a membership, many gyms are not completely honest. They know the potential member walking in their door is excited and on the brink of purchasing a membership in hopes of achieving change. If this change is weight loss, seldom do gyms tell those individuals that for any weight loss to occur, it starts in the kitchen with what and how much you eat; and no matter how much exercise you do via your membership, you will not see what you are expecting in terms of weight loss from your membership. Yes, some of these gyms do tell prospects all of the positive health benefits associated with exercise; but they do not get specific with regards to how the science works for the goal of weight loss.

No specific personalized targets: Bottom line with weight loss: it is simple (expend more calories than you take in); however, it is also personal.
The guesswork can be eliminated when it is personalized in what and how much you eat and how your move.

Nutritionally, for it to win both short-term and long-term results, a weight loss program must be built upon your food and your terms—NO cookie-cutter meal plans making you shove down food that you would normally never even consider eating. The same goes for an exercise plan—you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. The plan has to match an individual’s experience, limitations and availability while programming the exercises. It must also utilize a specific hierarchy to maximize not just the workout, but more importantly the caloric burn well after the workout is complete.

However, the point to be made is that there is a disconnect with many people in that there is a belief that joining a gym equates to losing weight when in reality a gym membership is nothing but access to exercise and nothing else. Another way to think about it—gyms act as landlords that rent to tenants (members) access to exercise via monthly fees.

Face it; unlike generations before us where there was more labor than technology to get their daily fix of activity, we are for the most part a sedentary society. Therefore with this fact of life, we do have to manufacture an active lifestyle via exercise; and gym memberships serve a great function for that purpose.

However for those who are looking for weight loss and body transformation, make sure you are at a place that empowers you on the science of weight loss, that will personalize your nutrition to eliminate any guesswork while educating you on how all exercise is good but not created equal when comes to weight loss. Failure to take these variables into consideration when searching for assistance with weight loss more times than not will lead to frustration due to loss of time, energy and money and ultimately to lack of results.
For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.

This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.

With ZERO RISK and ZERO OBLIGATION You have nothing to lose by meeting with us other than unwanted body fat!