Walking into a gym that’s full of unfamiliar machinery, where everyone looks like they know what they’re doing is daunting for anyone. If you’re thinking of joining a gym but feel a bit apprehensive about it, I’ve got some tips and pointers to help set your mind at ease.
Anything is more than nothing. Try not to feel disappointed if at first you’re unable to stay motivated for more than 20 minutes in the gym. Short periods of exercise are still beneficial and a great start to your healthier lifestyle. Remember, strength, stamina and fitness takes time to build up. Your first few sessions are all about building the foundations.
Free weights are more advanced than fixed weight machines. If you don’t yet have the strength or confidence to create a workout routine with bars and dumbbells then start simple on the fixed weight machines. Set a rough weight to something you can manage for 10–12 reps (repetitions) and try to have a short rest in between your sets. If you’re still unsure then ask a fitness instructor to create a workout plan for you.
You can’t choose where you lose fat. Remember, in order to lose fat you need to burn more energy than you consume. Unfortunately, you can’t decide where it comes off first; this isn’t how fat loss works. Rather than spending 15 minutes on crunching exercises to lose fat from your tummy, it would be much better to do a weight circuit (a simple circuit incorporating exercises with weights) or interval running. This is where you do short bursts of running at speed followed by a short period of rest or lower intensity running.
You are here for you. Stay focused on your own goals and try not to take too much notice of those around you. What other people are doing might not necessarily be the best way to achieve your own specific goals, and everybody undoubtedly has their own strengths. Challenge yourself by beating your personal best times on the treadmill, lifting heavier weights than last week or extending your workout session by an extra five minutes.
Warm-ups and cool-downs are necessary. It might seem tedious but your body will thank you if you warm up and cool down properly. Long term, you will almost certainly get an injury if you don’t do them. Warm-ups should be about four to five minutes of exercises that raise your heart rate gradually. The exercise should increase from low to medium intensity. Cool-downs are the reverse. Follow your cool-down with at least one stretch per body part used. If you’re unfamiliar with stretching exercises, ask your gym instructor for some guidance.
Take calories with a pinch of salt. The calorie readings on cardio equipment are a rough estimate only and shouldn’t be the focus point of your workout. Focus on energy and effort instead. The harder you work and the longer you work for, the more energy you will burn.
Weights are for everybody. Weights aren’t just for big strong men, in fact they’re suitable for everybody to use. Training with weights has lots of benefits and can:
help sculpt your body
improve bone density (keeping your bones strong)
challenge you where cardio equipment will not
reduce muscular aches and pains associated with everyday life
If you’re unsure about how to create a weight training plan, your gym instructor will be able to create a tailor-made plan for you.
And, if you want to try a beginner’s HIIT programme – follow my video!
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