Gym machines offer the attraction of distraction

Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:18pm EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Modern cardio machines come with so many bells and whistles that it's routine to watch a favorite movie, scale a virtual mountain, or share gossip with Facebook friends while getting fit at the gym.

But what do you push to maximize your workout?

Josh Lyon, of the chain of national gyms 24 Hour Fitness, advises his new clients to focus on the fundamentals.

"Learn the arithmetic before tackling the calculus," he said. "For the treadmill, it is generally incline and speed. For the elliptical, it is generally ramp and resistance."

Lyon, who is based in San Ramon, California, said more resistance or speed make muscles work harder, while with ramp and incline changes the emphasis is on specific muscles.

"Once clients grasp how these two work together, they are ready to begin experimenting with the pre-set workouts, intervals and shorter high-intensity workouts. There's a learning curve," he explained.

Education was not an issue for the beasts of burden who worked the earliest treadmills, which were built to harness the power of animals to churn butter or grind grain.

More than 50 million Americans used treadmills for fitness in 2009, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. More than 26 million used elliptical trainers.   Continued...