Virgin Active Q&A: Salford Quays master says choose an activity and get moving…

Too wide and confusing a variety of fitness-related activities and food is causing people to be inactive and consequently unhealthy, says a Virgin Active fitness trainer.

Dean Zweck, who works at Salford Quays’ newly-revamped centre delivering classes accessible to “anyone”, as he describes them, says people are losing the ability to move and he wants to do something about it.

The good news is there are ways for everyone, whether you’re into dance, cycling or martial arts to get fitter, and that’s largely through what you eat.

But of course there’s the moving thing too and MM first got put through their paces then spoke to Zweck about modern day fitness goals.

MM: What’s the one common weakness you see in the people you train?

DW: Mobility! People have lost the ability to move. If you look at children they have perfect techniques when picking things up, don’t have back pain and never pull muscles! As we age and become more sedentary we get tight, can bend down, and live life in constant niggly pain. This only gets worse unless you do something about it and fight to regain the ability to move!

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How can busy people with families and jobs best approach overcoming such a weakness?

The best and fastest way to improve mobility is ZUU. ZUU is a low impact, animal based conditioning method that is available in Virgin Active. But as it is bodyweight training it can be done anywhere, anytime. Mobility can be improved simply by doing a two-minute drill, three times a day (morning, noon and night) perfect for busy families. Kids also love these moves and readily join in, usually showing us how to do it properly!

What basic foods would you recommend for people aiming to become fitter and healthier?

Most people need to increase their protein (meat, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes) and drop some of the processed sugar. The typical diet of cereal for breakfast, sandwich and crisps for lunch, and a big bowl of pasta for dinner is a major contributing factor to obesity and diabetes which has increased by 60% in just the last 10 years. An omelette, chicken salad, and salmon with quinoa would be better choices for meals for most people.

How much exercise is productive? At what stage can exercise become counterproductive? 

Research shows that to achieve the best changes in body shape 5 hours of training is needed. 2.5 hours of interval and resistance training, and 2.5 hours of anything you enjoy (Zumba, Swimming, Sports) There is no cap to maximum training, as long as you recovery properly. Sleep, hydration, stress and diet all play a role in how much training you should partake in.

Would you recommend GRID Strong for someone not training specifically in upper body strength work? ie can it be counterproductive?

GRID strong can be attended by anyone. It is great to build muscle (don’t worry ladies you won’t get HUGE!) which burns more calories EVERY day, and lacking in strength affects you in simple daily tasks like lifting and carrying, also increasing injury risk!

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The class is designed primarily for people who already engage in weight training, and want to increase strength and power further, but as there are a selection of weights and options on the class, MOST people can do it. I wouldn’t recommend it for a member that hasn’t trained in years as their first session as they would need to go through a period of conditioning with either bodyweight or machines or light freeweights.

Same question for GRID Active, although surely anyone doing any sort of training would reap benefits from this class?!

YES! The benefits are many! Heart health, mobility, strength, fitness, calorie burn, fun! If you’re in the gym you’ll improve in this class. The class has a feel of an obstacle course such as Tough Mudder, but when you attend these races you’ll see many different people taking part, just like our classes.

What’s the most important thing in your opinion to do post strenuous exercise? Eat, cool down or purely rest?! 

In our GRID classes we teach Trigger Point release using foam rollers and balls to ease off tight muscles. This is ultra important in ensuring recovery and also injury prevention. After cooling down in the gym, you’ll need to refuel with some carbohydrate and protein, and drink plenty of water.

What’s the thing you love the most about your job?

I know it sounds cheesy but it is simple seeing people improve. Receiving a message from a member that has just got in to their size 8 dress for the first time, completed their first marathon or came off their High BP medication is simple humbling and keeps me going every day. Life is about giving and I’m privileged to be able to help many people live healthier and fitter lives.

And conversely, what frustrates you the most? Laziness?

It’s not laziness, I get frustrated by the internal bickering within the fitness industry that makes it hard for the public to choose what they do. All over social media things like Zumba and CrossFit and cardio and more are ridiculed, saying they don’t work! This isn’t true!

There are benefits to ANY type of exercise, and some exercise methods are better suited to certain goals. For example, cardio is great for fitness, weights and interval training is better for fat loss. The media also confuses people when it comes to nutrition, is sugar or fat bad? Are shakes good?

All these contradicting reports make it impossible for the public to achieve their goal and probably contribute to the laziness. Not knowing what to do will promote inaction!

Finally, how do Virgin stand out above the rest of the pack when there are so many options these days to choose from when it comes to fitness and health?

We have always been innovators within the fitness industry, with the recent evolution of the functional floor with GRID, the only health club to have ZUU, our cafés stock healthy food from Soulmate food, our internal training to upskill our staff with the latest information, and our new Get To Grips sessions that increase confidence on the gym floor for beginners, we are the health club of choice.

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