Becky Flaum
October 10, 2013 11:00 am

Have you ever noticed that your fitness fanatic friends always have a crazy smile on their face? Like they’ve joined a cult? And, let’s be real, they kind of have. Whatever they prefer: yoga, barre, boxing or Pilates, they want you to belong, they need you…they need your soul… I feel like any time I enter a conversation about fitness, everyone is trying to convert me. And I know it’s just the endorphins talking, But it’s overwhelming.

Unfortunately you can’t fake the actual working out. I mean you can tell people you’re doing it but then if in a month or two you still look the same, people might start to catch on. Believe me, I’ve tried it.

But if your sister swears by Pilates or your best friend has a membership to Soul Cycle, it might be helpful to know what they’re talking about. Simply because revealing your ignorance of their fitness passion will result in a self righteous speech about calories burned, muscles mass and how all other types of workout are inferior. That’s the thing with fitness buffs, they believe that the only right way to work out is to do what they do.  The best way to approach this conversation is with a basic knowledge of fitness and the latest trends as to avoid the reproaching speech about why jogging is the most freeing and enlightening experience in the world or how Crossfit is the future of fitness. Well-rounded gym rats will have a routine, especially if they have educated themselves (believe me, they have), they’re usually not doing just one thing. Asking someone his or her routine is a great conversation starter, especially if you lead off with a compliment.

Oh yea, they’re REALLY into nutrition too and probably own those barrels of powders that taste like clay. But for now, let’s focus on the fitness.

On the flip side, fitness nuts are some of the most motivated people I know. Even when you’ve had a bad day, they seem to be able to cheer you up….there is something to be said for all those endorphins man.

THE BASICS

There are a few approaches to working out depending on what you want to do. Lose weight? Tone? Gain weight?

If you want to lose weight, the idea is to burn more calories than you take in. High impact cardio workouts are best for burning calories. You need to get your heart rate up to a certain target “zone”, this all is figured out depending on your age, weight and activity level. Honestly, most cardio machines at gyms have a little graph on them that can help you figure out how high your heart rate should get during your workout.

To tone, you are going to concentrate on your muscles and strength; tightening up your main muscles groups. While it might seem like it is making you look like a body builder, it isn’t. The goal is to get lean and turn fat to muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.  So strength training and toning usually go hand in hand with cardio.

To gain weight for “Bridget Jones Diary”, Renee Zelwegger drank milkshakes and didn’t workout at all. But I think the gaining weight that fitness buffs refer to has to do with gaining muscle mass. Here’s the kicker: muscle weighs more than fat. To gain weight you have to consume more calories than you burn. But to avoid those extra calories being stored as fat, you have to lift weights, heavy weights, and do fewer repetitions. This is where most of those terrible protein shakes come into play.

GLOSSARY

Everybody’s got some workout they swear changed their life. Throughout the years, I’ve had several: Jazzercise, Tai Bao, and now, I’m really into boxing (it’s changed my life). Here’s what fitness crazies are talking about now.

Barre: Ballet-inspired, barre workouts focus on developing lean muscle mass, while working on balance and flexibility.  Celeb devotees include Kelly Ripa, Natalie Portman, and Drew Barrymore.

Crossfit: “The Sport of Fitness” This insane workout is what everyone from Navy SEALS to housewives do to get in shape. It mixes heavy weight lifting with running, sprinting, cardio and crazy amounts of pull-ups. There’s a Crossfit gym near my apartment and every time I pass it, the noises the people inside are making scare me. Celeb Crossfitters include New Girl’s Max Greenfield and Mrs. Timberlake, Jessica Biel.

MMA: Mixed Martial Arts. This and boxing are great workouts for people who want to get in shape and kick someone’s ass. MMA combines boxing with eastern fighting techniques like judo, karate, and good old fashion wrastlin’. Ryan Gosling gets his body with MMA, which he could do while defending your honor (swoon!)

Pilates: This workout is all about the core and strengthening it through focused and precise movement. There is a flow to Pilates that makes it a little like yoga. And it uses that cool machine thing that looks like a medieval torture device…what does it do?!. Pilates regulars Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz could tell you.

P90X: You’ve seen this on TV late at night while finishing off that pint of Ben & Jerry’s. The workout consists of mixing elements of body-weight training, cardio, yoga, and martial arts.  Pink and Sheryl Crow swear by it.

Spinning: Spinning is a really intense ride on a stationary bike usually in a room of other people riding on stationary bikes. People that love to spin, LOVE to spin. You can make the ride harder by increasing resistance and sitting up and standing on your bike. One thing good about spinning is that if you go in NYC, you might see spinster Jake Gyllenhaal on a bike near you.

Tabata– Interval training. This basically means that you do a regular cardio workout and incorporate “sprints” into it. Sprints can be done with any cardio exercise by just going as hard as you can for short bursts. The advantage over regular cardio workouts is that you get an after burn and your body is still burning calories after the workout.

Yoga: In its basic form yoga is a series of poses designed to stretch you, strengthen your muscles and develop your balance. There are several kinds of yoga including torture errr.. bikram yoga. Bikram is yoga done very slowly in a room that is no less than 1000 degrees (to qualify for bikram the room must be a minimum of 104 degrees). Yoga sculpted the bodies of Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Williams and Lady Gaga.

Zumba TM: This workout wins for most embarrassing workout to do with your mom. It’s dancing, and not just any dancing, it is salsa inspired cardio dance moves.  It’s a great way to trick yourself into working out. This seems to be the cardio craze with the over 40 set and the classes remind me of watching drunk moms at a wedding. Madonna and Shakira do it, so it can’t be that bad.

Have another workout to add?  Gotten results from any of the above? Please let us know, so we aren’t caught off guard by disciples of any fitness fads and end up getting a lecture on body ergonomics or whatever.

WHO’S WHO

These are the people that create the workouts that make us sweat. And some of them make the celebrities sweat too.

Tony Horton: You can thank Tony for P90X. Prior to torturing all of us in our homes with his DVD’s, he trained celebrities like Usher and rock star Steve Nicks.

Shaun T: Creator of the Insanity workouts and Hip Hop Abs. Shaun T is also a former dancer and choreography…he used to dance back up for Mariah Carey, probably where he got the name Insanity.

Tracy Anderson: Perhaps her most famous client is Gweneth Paltrow, but loads of celebrities use Tracy and her Tracy Anderson Method. Basically Anderson categorizes her clients into body types and develops workouts and meal plans for those body types. She supposedly helped Kim Kardashian drop 30 pounds in 30 days after North was born.  I’ve always noticed a Tracey Anderson client by their ropey arms.

Mandy Ingbar: Famous for her Yogalosphy, yoga hybrid workout program, Ingbar works with Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence and Helen Hunt.

Harley Pasternak: Besides being a host on the short-lived talk show The Revolution, Pasternak is a trainer to stars like Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. He’s best known for his books The Body Reset Diet and The 5 Factor Diet.

TAGLINES

If trying to pretend you are a fitness freak is your goal, remember that fitness people are like tiny motivational speakers. They are positive, happy and energetic…it’s the people that are dieting in addition to working out that are angry all the time (they are so hungry!!). Do remember, even if you are being negative, be positive!

“I was so in love with yoga until I took a Pilates class. I love all the core work”

“Interval training has changed my life. I mean, P90X, Insanity, and now Tabata…you just burn so much more fat that way”

“You can tell Madonna uses Tracy Anderson, look at her arms…all her clients have the same arms” (it’s true, just compare)

FOR MORE INFO

On the verge of becoming a fitness nut yourself? Want to educate yourself the next time you have to debate yoga vs. Pilates? Or just need motivation to get to the gym? Here are some places to get education, advice and motivation for your fitness journey.

Books: “The 4 Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss, “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance” by Ben Greenfield, and “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein

Movies: “Bigger, Faster Stronger”, “Pumping Iron” and “Yoga, Inc.”

Sites: Fit Bottomed Girls, Fitnessista,   NY Times Well Blog

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