Fitness instructor Louis Coraggio hears daily the personal stories of people unhappy with their bodies.
"They want to get into better shape overall, they want to feel younger, feel better feel stronger and look good in a bikini or bathing suit," Coraggio says.
Cardio exercise plays a crucial role in getting the shape you want. But when the machine you're using says you're burning 500 calories, are you really? It could be that you're not. Most cardio machines are modeled on someone else's physique.
"Usually the protocol is a 150-pound person where a lot of machines base that information on, so if you're below that mark and you're not wearing a heart rate monitor you're not getting exact information," Coraggio says.
Dr. Bob Otto is the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Adelphi University. His lab runs tests on calorie burning, fat loss and other metabolics. For example, Louise, a test subject, was hooked up to equipment that measured her total energy used when doing cardio by tracking the oxygen she took in against what she is exhaling while on the treadmill.
"This is precise," Otto says. "This is very precise about within a half a percent of what the actual caloric expenditure would be."
Otto's lab studies are routinely shared with fitness researchers and equipment designers. And while chances are your gym won't have his type of setup in it, both Otto and Coraggio agree that most cardio machines are trustworthy as long as they are routinely serviced and calibrated.
The bottom line is to get that bod you truly want, set realistic goals and you're going to have to sweat.
"Be patient and if you can set long-term goals, you have a far better chance of achieving them," Otto says. "Granted we have short-term goals with the long term ones, but don't expect miracles in a week or two."