Fitness guru Ron Zalko has entertained plenty of celebrities at his Kitsilano gym. Lady Gaga has been there. So have Ryan Reynolds, Zac Efron, Jessica Alba, and the Rock. Going back even further, Diahann Carroll, Linda Carter (better known as Wonder Woman), Sly Stallone, and Faye Dunaway worked out on the premises. And many more.
Vancouver is known to some as Hollywood North. Ron Zalko Fitness & Yoga could, on some days, be considered Hollywood North’s sweat zone.
After 36 years in the fitness business, Zalko understands that some form of regular exercise is essential to avoid future health problems and to stimulate the release of endorphins, which trigger positive feelings in the body and mind. But he also knows that not everyone gets their jollies from walking on a treadmill, pumping weights, or doing yoga.
In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight at his gym, Zalko offered up the 10 reasons he’s heard most often for why people don’t exercise. And then he countered each one.
At the top of his list was “no time”, which he described as a “stupid” reason not to work out.
“You have to make time because you can’t take it with you, whatever you do,” Zalko said. “So you might as well make time to work out. It doesn’t have to be two or three hours—30 minutes is fine, 40 minutes is fine. You feel better and have less stress. Stress can kill.”
Next on his list was “no energy”, which he linked to not getting enough sleep. Zalko pointed out that if people are staying up for too many hours, it’s sometimes related to anxiety. He also explained that stress causes the body to think it’s under attack, so it releases the stress hormone cortisol, which stimulates the appetite. And that causes weight gain.
According to him, exercise is an ideal antidote. “You should do cardio,” Zalko said. “You should do interval training.”
His third reason why people don’t exercise is simply because they loathe it. Fourth, they have “competing interests”. He pointed out that he has seen people arrive at his gym in a moody frame of mind because they’re stressed-out from work. But according to him, they’re happy after exercising.
The fifth reason why people don’t exercise? He said it’s because they haven’t developed the habit. He advised that a 35- or 40-minute workout, four times a week, will get most people over their dislike of working out and get them into a regular routine.
“You should not hate exercise,” Zalko insisted. “We all know you need exercise. We all know you need to eat well.”
Another reason why people don’t exercise is because they have no motivation.
“Then you have to find the right place that will motivate you to come—a happy place that doesn’t force you to go crazy with the workout, a place that understands your goal and what you want to do to achieve it,” he noted.
He said others don’t exercise because they think it’s “too overwhelming”. One way to overcome this is for them to do this in areas where they feel comfortable and where they feel not everyone is looking at them. Zalko quickly added that this exercise doesn’t have to take place in a gym. It can occur outdoors.
Eighth on his list was “poor diet”.
“People don’t know what to eat,” he said. “You have to choose your food from nature—lots of fruits and vegetables, some protein, less carbs. That’s what will put you on the right track.”
His no-nos include sugar, salt, and fats, though he acknowledged that some people become addicted to junk food. “Go to the fridge,” he advised. “Clear it out and put the right food in there.”
Sometimes, Zalko said, people don’t exercise because they’re in poor physical condition or because of injuries. But he maintained that the human body was built for movement and pointed out that many athletes rehabilitate themselves through “active recovery”. This involves less intense exercises or focusing on areas of the body that are still healthy.
Advocates of this approach, including Zalko, argue that this is a better way to get healthy than simply sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the body to heal. “You have to keep active,” he said.
The 10th and final reason on his list was “lack of results”. Here, he recommended being patient.
“It’s not going to happen in three days,” Zalko stated. “You have to be consistent, and you won’t see results for seven weeks.”