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Reduction in social media use at gym needed to help cut obesity levels - Expert

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18 June 2024, 6:51 PM

Reduction in social media use at gym needed to help cut obesity levels - ExpertSam Wood

A health and fitness expert who has made millions of dollars from his online programme is urging Kiwis to limit their screen use while working out, in a bid to combat NZ’s growing rates of obesity.

The call comes ahead of the winter season, which research shows is the second most high-risk time of the year for weight gain for those living in the Southern Hemisphere, behind Christmas.

The $82 million online fitness programme, 28 by Sam Wood, created by celebrity personal trainer and former star of The Bachelor Australia, Sam Wood, has grown to be the largest of its kind - used by almost a million New Zealanders and Australians to date.

Wood says using social media while in between sets at the gym, also known as ‘gym scrolling’, can add as much as 20% to 30% to the total workout time and the reduction in exercise intensity could be enough to derail weight loss goals.

He says research has also shown that just half an hour of social media use prior to exercise creates mental fatigue which leads to decreases in the amount of repetitions.

Wood says these research insights align with what he has witnessed after more than 50,000 personal training sessions over 15 years with his clients.

He says to maximise results in the gym the average person needs to have a 60-second to two-minute rest between sets.

“I see people go down a rabbit hole on their phones for much longer than that,” he says.

Wood says it may be time for gyms to intervene when members are spending excessive time on gym equipment and inconveniencing others while they scroll on social media.

“As well as disrupting fellow gym-goers, ultimately they are sabotaging their success and they need to determine what their goals are and what they are prepared to sacrifice to achieve them.

“What I notice is it isn’t just young people on social media who let it interrupt their exercise routine, I see older clients doing the same thing, I’m even guilty of it myself on occasion. I think I’ll just clear this one email and before you know it, I’m ten minutes in…

“For those who lack discipline, in-person classes with an instructor, or online sessions involving a structured programme can make it harder for someone to pick up their phone midway through a workout.

“I’ve got four kids and I know that technology can be your best friend and your worst enemy and if you do not have the control and discipline to use it in your favour then you are better off steering clear of it,” he says.

 New on-the-go protein snack line, 28GO.

In addition to ‘gym scrolling’ Wood says there are several other common mistakes people make when it comes to their fitness routine.

“The best results come from consistent short(ish) workouts, so adding scroll time to your sessions won’t help in the long run.

“The more you try and jam everything into a week or two the less success you will have. People need to discover there is no wrong way or right way to get into shape, but rather finding the thing that works most for them so they can commit to it and carry it out in a sustainable manner,” he says.

Wood says around 70% of physical change is achieved through managing nutritional intake and this becomes even more critical during the winter season.

He says the key to success is adapting your exercise programme to the winter months to ensure you are moving your body regularly.

“You can’t out-train a poor diet. I often see people who have been disciplined all week with their eating and exercise, only to undo all of their results over a weekend. We need to constantly be asking ourselves how our choices are impacting our results especially when it comes to food and alcohol.

“In winter we need to be more mindful of what type of comfort foods we are putting in our mouth. Your body doesn’t discriminate because it's a different season, calories in, are calories in and what’s not used will be stored as fat.

“If the weather is bad and you can’t make it to the gym do something at home online, maybe hire or buy an exercise bike and cycle while you watch your favourite TV show or walk in your lunch hour rather than early morning so it's not as cold.

“Even in the cooler months, I will try and work out for 30 to 40 minutes a day for 4-5 days a week. I will also try and get incidental exercise in whenever I can including; taking work calls while out walking, bike riding with my girls and walking the dog,” he says.

Wood who has trained more than 940,000 women in Australia and New Zealand via his online programme says they still have the misconception that protein and resistance training will make them bulky.

He says the volume of questions on nutrition and snacking he received from women, led him to create a supplement range, 28GO, that is now being launched in New Zealand. 

“The one message that I have worked hard on with them than any other is that they need to do more strength training and to increase their protein intake, nothing gets better results for females than adopting these two principals,” he says.

When it comes to his own fitness and nutrition routine Wood says he tries to keep it simple, adding protein to every meal and often having a late breakfast as a form of intermittent fasting.

Wood says there has been an increase in education around gut health and its impact on physical and mental well-being and he now advocates for having a daily source of probiotics, collagen and protein.