Interview with Ilona Ozimek – physiotherapist and personal trainer

Ilona Ozimek – MA in physiotherapy at WUM, personal trainer. Runs a Facebook fanpage „Endorfina” ( EndorfinaFit).

Can being overweight or obese affect attempts to undertake physical activity?

I.O.: Unfortunately, yes. For many people it is a big limitation. People with excess kilos are usually ashamed to go to the gym or go jogging. I often hear that they are afraid of criticism, they are terrified at the thought of being ridiculed. Even if they are motivated enough to exercise at home, they often do not have enough knowledge of how to exercise, so as not to harm themselves and achieve the intended effect. It is not uncommon for the first attempts to end in injuries, joint or spine pains. Internet is full of fitness routine films but unfortunately they are hardly ever suitable for obese people.

What is the role of physical activity in the process of slimming? Is it worth exercising?

I.O.: Of course it is worth exercising. It is said that the weight loss effectiveness in 30% depends on physical activity, the remaining 70% is diet. However, it should be emphasized that an additional portion of movement, beyond weight loss, also has many health benefits. In my opinion the most important thing is the improvement of well-being, increased energy and the discharge of emotional tension. The most important benefits can also include: reduction of pain in the osteoarticular system, improved functioning of the cardiovascular system and regulation of the hormonal balance. It is important, however, not to overdo it at the beginning. One should always start with small steps and then gradually increase the exercise intensity.

Why is it better to introduce exercising to our life by taking small steps? And how does this concept marry up with Monika Honory’s Transformation Programme?

I.O.: If for a long time we didn’t do sport, despite our great intentions our body will not be prepared for too much effort. A hard training can only put us at risk of injury and exhaustion. That’s why I recommend to my patients the gradual introduction of physical activity. I feel particularly close to Monika Honory’s Transformation Programme assumption – changes should be introduced slowly, with respect to oneself.

What physical activity should and shouldn’t be practiced by obese people?

I.O.: There isn’t one routine that could be recommended to everyone, just as there is no one nutrition system that’s perfect for all. However, everyone, regardless of their weight, should first of all take care of their body from the inside, that is, their joints. Working with Monika Honory, creating DVDs, we focused on exercises that strengthen the joints and spine and make the muscles more flexible. However one mustn’t forget about some contraindications for obese people workouts. As they experience excessive joint stress and frequent cardiovascular problems, they should not: jump, lift heavy weights, and do intensive interval training. Especially when they are just starting their adventure with sport.

Together with Monika Honory, you have developed a two-DVD exercise programme for obese and overweight people. Please tell us something about those exercises.

I.O.: We focused mainly on stabilisation training, as well as on improving the mobility of tense muscles. To a large extent, we used functional exercises that aim to improve physical fitness. We also have cardio training to improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system.

How would you describe the first DVD and who is it for?

I.O.: The first disc is for beginners who are just starting their adventure with sport, or for those who have had a long break in training. Many exercises are in low and lying positions as well as in the supported kneeling positions. Moderate number of repetitions and slow pace of exercises make it a safe and feasible workout for everyone.

How is the second DVD different from the first one?

I.O.: The second disc is perfect for people who already have some experience in training. The exercises are more intense, there are more reps and the pace is faster. We also do resistance exercises using Thera-Band tapes.

Being overweight or affected by obesity can cause serious health problems in the osteoarticular system. How should we deal with it when we notice the first symptoms?

I.O.: It is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Next, a physiotherapist in order to choose an appropriate exercise programme.

Why do people trying to lose weight fail so often?

I.O.: First of all, I want to emphasize that obese people (at least those with whom I worked) are not lazy. On the contrary to what you might think, they are very hard-working and can really train hard. Often even too hard. They demand too much from themselves and want to achieve the effect too quickly. I could say that they treat themselves and their body as a racehorse: wanting to reach the finishing line as quickly as possible. This has the opposite effect – it often results in exhaustion or injuries. And the vicious circle closes.

Do you have any advice for people who would like to lose weight once and for all?

I.O.: Slimming is a very complicated process that begins in our head. I wouldn’t like to give advice here. Instead, I’d prefer to wish. I wish all the people who struggle with excess kilos to listen to themselves, and do what their bodies tell them to do. I hope you will be able to choose the type of training that suits you, gives joy and makes you happy. We are already overloaded with work and other duties. What we do in our free time should give us pleasure. If while exercising someone feels that something is wrong, most likely he or she is right. It is better to do just a little bit but systematically. Here, less really is more. I wish all the slimming people to start your slimming down adventure with small steps. I hope you can enjoy it and do it with respect, kindness and love for yourself.