Many people set out to add some exercise into their daily lives, not knowing the difference between training, toning, working out and active-play- also known as exergames. Worse, they hire a trainer for a lot of money, not really knowing what they are getting for their money. The lack of being specific can not only drain your wallet, waste valuable time, but leave you without the result you desire.Let’s go through what each of these words mean in the exercise world, and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
First, the word training: Are you Training? The word Training means to ” learn a special skill, through practice and instruction”. It involves repetition, and yes, practice, practice, practice… You want to be training if you are preparing for a specific sport or event, say a marathon or to become a better golfer, skier, enter the Olympics etc. Training has a specific point or aim. An early verb sense, from Latin, to pull or draw, was the basis of making something grow into a desired shape. The word trainer, comes from this concept, and that is what I would describe myself to be.
To be a Trainer, in the true sense of the word, one must first understand the requirements of the goal of the student. Secondly, a trainer needs to be skilled in the science of exercise progression, and third a knowledge of proper exercise selection that is valuable to meet that result. That is why I train people for golf, ski etc. because I understand those sports and understand the progression it takes to improve and get good results.
Second, Working out: To work out, you are performing a particular set of exercises involving several different muscles in one session. It usually involves a plan to improve ones fitness level, be it endurance, strength, flexibility, or just to exert oneself to better movements. I would put most “trainers” in this category – they provide a workout for people that involve all or some muscle groups, in random order, in random progression. People sweat, feel good because they moved, weather with proper form or not, and go on with their day. After a little while people feel that their muscles are tighter, and that is a given, hopefully not injured. Some of these trainers are better than others, but no special intelligence or skill needed there, just some creativity And basic understanding of exercises. I would put CrossFit in this category.
Third, Toning: This is for people who already have muscles that they like, body fat levels they are happy with, but like a little extra “shape” to their physique. Since you can’t tone fat, only muscle, it is important to already have some muscle on you body. Most toning involves body weighted movements or light weights/tension, and I would categorize yoga, Pilates, barre, ballet or dance in this group. If you are lucky enough to have the body shape and bodyfat levels of a runway model, then this type of workout is for you.
Fourth, and lastly, Active Play. Getting yourself and others up and moving may sometimes take a game to do it. Enter the concept of Exergames. Whether done organically, or with electronic devices, you are having fun and don’t even realize that you are working out. Exergames come in forms like sprints/games of tag, throwing a ball, cone runs or whatever hits your creativity. I would put running/walking in this category as well. You won’t tone a particular muscle, grow bigger biceps, improve the length of your golf drive, but you will burn calories, have fun and feel your body get stronger.
In conclusion, all these exercise forms are valid. You just have to pick one that meets your need and your goals. And doing so with knowledge is a valuable step to choosing what is right for you! Happy Exercising!