Monday, February 9, 2009

Worldwide Web Offers Fitness Support

“They’re booking airline reservations on the Internet, doing their taxes, shopping, and even finding love. Now Web-savvy surfers are utilizing the Internet as an aid to keeping fit. The reach of cyberspace is making a difference in reducing some people’s waistlines and creating an integrated world where e-mail and fitness records follow gym-goers right to their aerobics classes and exercise bikes. For those too busy to drive, park, dress, and perform at the gym, on-line personal fitness trainers, nutrition advisers, and programs await the time bound, on-line athlete. Marketing professional Dafna Zilafro manages her fitness with personal trainer Christopher Drozd over the Internet. Wanting to trim down and establish a fitness routine, Zilafro used to meet Drozd face-to-face, asking him follow-up questions in e-mails. The on-line meetings became routine, and soon she met with him regularly on his Web site. Faced with a hectic schedule, Zilafro conducts much of her life by e-mail, in business and in her personal life. Determined to achieve her goal of getting into the best shape she is plugging into on her trainer’s on-line consulting service. ‘Just knowing that someone else is reading everything you’re eating is enough to make you accountable. It’s very convenient. You can ask questions when they come to your mind.’ Zilafro’s trainer is certified by a nationally recognized fitness organization, a credential not everyone with a slick ‘store front’ Web site has or can prove they legitimately earned. Christine Ekeroth of the American Council on Exercise says the on-line fitness world has its own version of snake oil salesmen. ‘There’s a wide range of quality available on the Web because anyone can put up a Web page and call themselves a personal trainer,’ says Ekeroth. Editor of ACE’s Fitness Matters bimonthly magazine, Ekeroth says a cyber coach may not be right for everyone. ‘For beginning exercisers, they’re not going to get the hands-on instruction they may need,’ she says. Ekeroth finds that such Web-based information can be dangerous for those new to fitness. ‘There are sites that people are going to get hurt using. If you get on a site and they just ask you about your height and weight and design a program for you, you need to find somebody else. If you’ve got someone trying to sell you a lot of stuff that you might not need, your best bet is to choose another on-line personal trainer.’ Dietary supplements are a common product touted on-line and may be inappropriate for certain people, she says.”

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