Dear Fitness Coach,
I am a 44-year-old stay-at-home mom. I joined a gym last January and have been taking classes (Zumba, cardio boxing and body toning) faithfully 3 to 4 times a week. By now you would think I'd be in amazing shape, but that has not happened. My question is: Why haven’t I lost any weight and why are my arms still jiggly?
Group Fitness Groupie
Going to group fitness or aerobic classes is a great way to get and stay motivated. The instructors tell you what to do, and the social dynamic of a class can help keep you consistent. However, as you have experienced firsthand, just attending a few classes a week will not help with weight loss or put on enough lean muscle to firm up specific body parts. To get the kind of dramatic body transformation that you are looking for, you must take a three-prong approach: Nutrition, Weight-lifting and Cardio, in order of importance.
Research has shown that, for women over the age of 40, starting an exercise program alone will help you maintain your weight - but it will not impact any weight-loss efforts. An overwhelming part of any weight-loss program – about 80% – comes from nutrition. You must put your body in a caloric deficit to lose weight. You must reduce your food intake by 3,500 calories a week to lose 1 pound. It does not matter how many hours you are clocking in Zumba classes, if you do not cut back on your food intake the scale will not budge!
Weight training exercise will help firm up the areas that have lost muscle tone over the years. However, using light weights in a body toning class is not going to provide enough resistance to challenge your muscles to activate them to grow. You need to venture out of the group fitness studio and start using the weight equipment that your gym has to offer. If you really want to see the best results in the shortest period of time, consider working with a personal trainer. He or she will be able to give you a plan, instruct you on how to use the weights properly and monitor your progress.
Combining a high-protein/low-sugar reduced-calorie nutrition plan, along with weight training, will yield the kind of results you are not seeing by just doing group fitness classes.