By Jennifer Ha... Jan. 11, 2007
For Metro Toronto News ... Special

If you decide to work out regularly, it is important to first identify your strengths and weaknesses to set goals that are actually reachable. Utilizing various types of equipment can keep what seems like a repetitive and boring activity fun.

"The equipment is pretty much the same for all goals. What’s important is how you program your overall exercise", says Sender Deutsch, a certified personal trainer at SHAPE Health & Wellness Toronto. "Weights and cardio machines are both great for building muscles and burning fat. It is the length of time, intensity, reps, sets and frequency that are determined based on the desired goals of each person."

According to Deutsch, strength training and high intensity exercise burn more calories than traditional steady state cardio vascular exercise, because more muscles mean more
calorie burning. Muscle mass weighs more than fat and has a higher metabolic rate thus burning calories at rest.

Lifting, which can be done with simple equipments like benches for men - or dumbbells for women, burns a lot of calories.

Unlike popular belief, women who do weight training don’t get big and bulky like men, because their body mechanics are simply different.

While weights are more for building muscles mass, cardiovascular equipments like elliptical trainers and stair climbers are used for training the heart and muscle endurance, thus burning calories. Both can be used in combination for fat burning.

Simple exercise like interval training — jogging and walking alternatively — will definitely help you take off those Christmas pounds. The treadmill is an excellent piece of equipment for interval training, while equipment like a double cable pulley machine and functional trainer provide more challenge.

The choice of equipment might be important if you are looking to tone down a particular part of your body — like leg press if you want more 'fit' legs — but Deutsch says you should look at it from an overall perspective.

"It’s really the combination of proper diet and simple but regular exercise that are truly important", he says.

Deutsch recommends avoiding all white foods — mostly white bread, pasta, rice, etc. — and eating foods that are high in fibre, like oatmeal. "Eating oatmeal for breakfast is excellent because it keeps you full throughout the day. A 30-minute workout, three to five times a week, is excellent for maintaining good health while reaching your desired goal in the long run."