Thingamajigs and Whatchumacallits
by Jim Evans, VERDURE General Manager
Q: I used to pump iron with my buddies at a local gym when I was in high school, but some of the new exercise machines at these fancy health clubs look like something from outer space. I’ve been thinking about getting in shape again after all these years, but I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s really intimidating. What ever happened to good old-fashioned barbells and dumbbells?
A: Not to worry. VERDURE still has a roomful of free weights that will bring back some memories. But, remember that ’54 Chevy you thought was so “cool” when you were 22? Compare it to the new SUV or sedan that you might be driving now and, maybe, you can understand how fitness equipment has evolved over the years too – a good reason not to be intimidated by all of the “bells and whistles” on the high-tech equipment at VERDURE.
A perpetual problem for most health clubs is member retention because most people are very indifferent about exercise and usually don’t stick to their exercise program for very long or, like you, they have taken a few years off and are now looking to start up again.
When health clubs first became popular back in the fifties – in the days of Vic Tanney, Jack LaLanne, Ray Wilson, and other fitness pioneers – exercise was a novelty, and the public flocked to gyms and health spas across the country. But as the novelty wore off, and people became bored with exercise, the fitness industry responded to the challenge by improving the quality and appearance of their equipment and adding lots of fancy ‘thingamajigs’ and ‘whatchumacallits’ to keep your attention and to make exercise more fun and entertaining.
Aesthetically, most fitness equipment is more modern and streamlined in appearance than it was 40-50 years ago. Even the traditional free weights are rubber or vinyl coated in many cases to reduce the clanging and banging of yesteryear. The resistance training equipment allows you to isolate specific muscle groups like never before using a variety of resistance mechanisms including selectorized weights, resistance bands, hydraulics, and even air compression to optimize results.
Today’s treadmills have flexible decks under high density rubber treads to reduce the impact on your bones and joints and reduce the incidence of injury. In recent years, they have been somewhat supplanted by the popular elliptical machine – a kind of suspended treadmill that allows you to literally run “in the air” with no impact whatsoever. Stationary bikes now come in standard, racing, and recumbent style. Stairclimbing machines? Well, it’s hard to make climbing stairs any easier, but the bells and whistles do make it more tolerable.
Modern exercise equipment now offers computerized screens that tell you how far you have walked (or run), how many calories you have burned, and much more. By keying in your age, fitness level, and other data, the machines can adjust your workout with variable time, speed, and resistance; change the grade of incline or decline; and measure your heart rate. Some of them even talk to you during your workout. You can plug in your own ear phones and listen to your choice of music or even watch television from a remote or dedicated monitor. Some equipment is even hooked up to the internet. In fact, VERDURE will be introducing a whole new standard for fitness in Amarillo with the largest assembly of Technogym strength and cardio equipment in the country. This exciting high tech equipment even has its own a self-contained program (app) designed to create an entirely new and exciting exercise experience.
There is a simple learning curve associated with using today’s modern fitness equipment – just like learning to drive that old Chevy – but with a little tutelage from one of the VERDURE’s certified personal trainers, you will find most of the equipment to be very user-friendly, and in no time at all you will be singing the praises of modern technology and enjoying your exercise more.
Jim Evans is a 49-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and internationally-recognized industry consultant. He is currently the General Manager at VERDURE in Amarillo.