What's Your Opinion Of Men's Express Workout Centers?

TAMPA, FLORIDA | Sunday, June 19, 2005

The structured routine of men-only gyms may help the average Joe to get motivated.

What's your opinion of men's express workout centers? If you can’t recall your last workout, feel self-conscious about your burgeoning beer gut or are desperate for a jolt of motivation, then niche gyms that cater to men are worth a try. Men-only gyms, such as The Blitz and Cuts Fitness for Men, target the average Joe over 30 who doesn’t need the bells and whistles of a regular health club and doesn’t want to be intimidated by a procession of fit bodies. These express workout centers appeal to men who are looking for a convenient no-frills, noncompetitive atmosphere, says John McCarthy, executive director of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.The structured routines at these gyms are based on circuit training, in which you go from one exercise to the next with little or no rest in between. The workout stations alternate between hydraulic-resistance machines and aerobic activities, like running in place or punching a boxing bag. You move from station to station, spending less than 60 seconds at each one but doing as many reps as you can. The goal is to complete about a half-hour of continuous exercise.The overall vibe at express workout centers is laid-back. There are no mirrors and no showers, which helps keep the cost down. A membership will set you back anywhere from $30 to $40 a month. There’s also a certain level of camaraderie that tends to develop between gym-goers—and even the staff. “They made it easy for me,” says Bill Blaney, 51, of Oakhurst, N.J., who joined Cuts. “I hadn’t exercised in a long while, and I was up to 300 pounds. In the first three months, I’ve lost 30 pounds.”Lack of time is the No. 1 reason cited by 80% of people who don’t exercise regularly, notes Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. “These gyms are a time-efficient way to burn calories on a regular basis.” With 67% of the men in this country overweight, any program that gets you off the sofa is a good one—and by “program,” I don’t necessarily mean a gym routine. You could just as easily start walking 30 minutes each day. Also keep in mind that several mainstream gyms now offer circuit-training workouts.

Michael O’Shea,Ph.D., is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. Have a question about exercise? Write: Fitness, Box 4943, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. 10163-4943. We can’t give personal replies but will try to address your concerns in future columns. Remember to consult your physician before starting an exercise program.

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