According to the National Sporting Goods Association, running and jogging participation increased by 7.6 percent from 2000 to 2001, with 24.5 million Americans now participating in the sport. It’s not surprising to me that running has gained so much in popularity. I started running in the mid-’80s, and I remember thinking at the time that “this couldn’t possibly be good for me: all this pounding on my joints, and it is darn hard!” But my running partner convinced me to keep it up, and he increased my running distances from 1 mile to 2, 3 and so forth. Today, I run, on average, five days per week, and train for at least two marathons per year. When I miss a run, I feel out-of-shape and depressed. But, there are also times when I don’t really feel like running, either. At those times, I’ve often realized that the problem is a lack of cross-training; I’m simply doing the same thing again and again. I get into a rut by running the same distances, running the same pace and even running the same courses. What I need is variety to spice up my training.
As Richard Bloomer writes in his article “How to Challenge Your Clients to Maintain Cardiovascular Training” (p.36), one of the main reasons clients lose interest in their training programs is due to boredom. That may seem like an easy problem to fix, but many of your members simply don’t know how to vary their workouts. They may like a certain machine or sport, and they need the help of your facility’s professionals to show them how to spice up their programs without changing to a new machine or sport altogether. Bloomer provides some specific examples for how to challenge your members through performing short-interval and high-intensity workouts and experimenting with other forms of cardio exercise. He also emphasizes the role that exercise testing plays in keeping clients motivated bybeingshownhow their program is paying off.
Ah, the payoff. While not actually an exercise test, completing a marathon does provide verification of how a program helped to achieve the final goal. Stephen Black, in his article “Training Your Members to Run a Marathon” (p.42), outlines the steps to help your members successfully complete a marathon. But better than that, he provides a detailed program, for both out-on-the-road running and in-the-club strength training, for both the novice and experienced marathoner. Black’s advice is good. Last month, I ran a 33-mile trail run in my local mountains, and his strength-training recommendations would have helped me tremendously with the climbs — climbs I never experience in the road marathon.
Your members don’t have to run marathons to maintain cardiovascular fitness, but they do have to engage in exercise that actually raises their heart rate to a level that will achieve cardiovascular training. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, that equals a minimum of 30 minutes a day at an intensity equal to 55 to 90 percent of maximum predicted heart rate. Unfortunately, for years, the wrong message has been going out to the public about the types of exercise that can produce this training effect. For instance, it has long been thought that by merely doing housework or occasional gardening, individuals would be benefiting cardiovascularly. Wrong. According to a recent study, even heavy housework doesn’t improve cardiovascular health (p.14). Cardiovascular training isn’t easy; if it was, we’d have a great deal more than the mere 10 percent of the population working out, right? But with the information in this issue, you can motivate your members to get the most out of their cardio programs at the highest level of enjoyment.