Nice parquet flooring, isolation and cardio machines. Avoid.

Yes I am looking at California Fitness, True Fitness, Fitness First and the rest of the peas in a pod.

Basically, if you enter a gym with rows after rows of isolation machines( (and cardio machines), head for the exit door as fast as you can.

I will only discuss about 2 main flaws in training methodology in my own opinion. I will not mention about the high-pressure sales tactics, incessant cold calls, illicit propositions you will most definitely receive in these clubs.

Activation of the Core

Every movement in the human body starts from the abdominal region which helps to generate power and maintain stability. When you sit on an isolation machine, your core becomes inert and you only target a certain muscle. The muscles you are building will not learn to work together because the central linkage is inactive, unless you want to build big useless muscles.

The movements are non-functional and cannot be translated to the real world. A simple guide to what makes a functional movement is when all your joints are moving during the exercise. (The word functional is debatable too, as it can be related to life, or specific sports.)

Hormonal Stress

When was the last time you exercised to the point your breathing became labored, heart rate rose quickly while your mind is solely focused on the task at hand? Well, you certainly won’t get there in these health clubs. Mindlessly pushing the handles machines is not going to help you get the body you want. If you want the body of an athlete, you have to train like an athlete.

Disclaimer: That is not to say all equipment at such clubs are useless, but with their large floor space dedicated largely to stacked weights with little emphasis on free weights and functional movements, you are certainly not going to get value for money.

This begs the question, why are these gyms like this?

Money and Safety.

Gyms like these make an insane amount of money from people who sign up for an annual membership and never come back again after 1 month because they do not see results and reasonably so.

These people blame themselves because they think it’s their own fault they do not get the results. However, is it any wonder that you do not see results when the training done are on cardio machines are at slow speeds (enough to watch a tv program) and then ended off with isolation machines?

The gym takes on much less liability when isolation machines are used. Isolation machines are safer and require less supervision compared to free weights such as barbells, kettlebells etc. From a business point of view it makes sense, but it is ethically questionable.

Isolation machines also have a quicker turnaround time because it is faster to change weights on a machine than on a barbell. However, there are immense benefits of compound movements on the barbell compared to isolation machines.

The next post will talk about what is an ideal way to keep fit.