For The Independent
While most would like to improve their physical fitness, doing so can be a difficult battle, if for no other reason the confusing and often contradictory information about how to go about doing so.
But according to Eden Roach, a National Physique Committee bikini competitor, certified personal trainer and kickboxing and boot-camp teacher who is qualified in nutrition as well, getting healthier and shedding pounds doesn’t have to be complicated.
The key? “Get started,” she said.
“Be creative. Go to the park with your kids instead of the mall. Mow the grass, or take a walk. But start moving.”
Roach — who teaches various fitness classes and offers nutrition plans for athletes and others through her “Barbells N Bombshellz” group that meets at Ashland Pro Fitness — demystifies diet as well.
“We need to avoid anything that is processed,” she said. “Anything that is white, refined, carbohydrates, then cut it out of your diet. Good carbohydrates such as whole wheat and oatmeal are what we need to focus on.”
Her experience has taught her to be careful and consistently check the labels of food. Even the number of ingredients in a food is a factor, Roach said.
“I try to keep it down to two, or not more than four. If whole-wheat bread has 10 ingredients, then that is a lot of extra stuff that your body doesn’t need.”
Roach said she has always been conscious of her health and remembers lifting weights with her father when she was 12. She does admit her own level of fitness has seen some fluctuation, most noticeably after the births of her two children.
But, while the demands of work and other social concerns can take away from a person’s time to commit to fitness, Roach said she advises people to not give up. It is important to set goals — even if they are modest in the beginning — and not give in to the deception of immediate gratification, she said.
“Forget the scale,” Roach said. “A lot of people watch it to see what they have lost, but just give it time and don’t worry about the scale.”
The things she said she encourages people to focus on are increasing their activity levels and improving their diets. Muscle, she said, requires some time to build up and during that time the actual weight lost isn’t as drastic. And weight loss is deceptive, she said.
“The goal is overall fitness. We focus on strength and muscle tone. One pound of fat and one pound of muscle is still just one pound. The pound of muscle is just denser and shapelier, and a whole lot healthier.”
Conventional fitness science of the past focused more heavily on cardiopulmonary exercise such as stationary bikes, but Roach said cardio takes a less important role than strength training. “Muscle burns fat,” she said. “You need to train for strength and endurance, and cardio alone won’t yield the results that you ultimately want.”
And, along those lines she pointed out a major misconception among women that if they lift weights then they will get “bulky” or somehow look less shapely. “Muscle tone is what gives us shape,” she said. “It requires a huge amount of specific training to achieve the size of a female body builder. Strength and tone on the other hand is something every woman should want.
“You have to develop determination and commit yourself to the whole package,” Roach said. “You could come in and take classes, but if your daily diet isn’t right then you aren’t going to reach your weight loss and fitness goals. And if your diet is right but you don’t get the right amount of exercise, you will lose some weightbut you still won’t be able to reach your goals. But you can reach your fitness goals by doing both. And, as you progress, you will discover that the same level of effort actually increases the results you see. “
The members of the classes Roach teaches cover a wide variety of ages and fitness levels. The exercises they do, from kickboxing to the “Mommy and Me” classes, can be adjusted to accommodate anyone, she said.
The key is to keep the proper form throughout the ranges of exercises and weight lifting, Roach said. Weights can always be increased, but if the exercise isn’t done properly then the results aren’t as effective.
“You always need to push yourself,” she said. “But you have to push properly and safely to get the best results.”
Roach has a Facebook page, Barbells N Bombshellz, where she offers encouragement and seeks feedback.