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We’ve all been there. We know we should be exercising, we make promises to ourselves that we’ll start to lead healthier lives and we say “I’ll just start Monday”. 20 Mondays later and the only exercise we’ve been doing is raising the cupcakes to our lips. Starting a gym or exercise program can be daunting, especially if you’re a beginner and feel uncomfortable and out-of-place in a gym setting. This article is going have some suggestions and ideas for if you’ve never set foot in a gym before or if you’re just looking for some further guidance on how to get going.
Nike was right with their slogan. Just. Do. It. You need to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. Even if you’re only in the gym for 20 minutes a day, it’s a start and it counts. Firstly, let’s talk about the types of gyms that are commonly available:
Co-ed: These gyms are open to men and women.
Co-ed with Women Option: This is a gym that is open to men and women in the common area, but also has a specialized area for women only.
Women’s Gym: Captain Obvious tells me this is a gym open to women only!
Quick Circuit Gym: This is my least favorite type of gym. These gyms are open to women only, generally have equipment that is not adjustable and is based on a quick circuit program where you spend one or two minutes on each machine (Curves for example). I don’t like these gyms for several reasons. Firstly, as I mentioned, the equipment is not adjustable. This causes problems if you’re not of average proportion. If you’re quite tall or quite short, the equipment may not fit you properly which can result in misuse or even injury. Now if you’re able to find a quick circuit gym that does have adjustable equipment, there are still other problems that present themselves. The machines are hydraulic based and omit eccentric stress that can severely compromise strength gains. The programs are a cookie cutter approach and although it does get women in the gym who would not otherwise step foot inside this type of establishment, they really should only be reserved for an absolute beginner and should only be used if you absolutely refuse to get into a “real” gym!
Now you need to decide, are you comfortable working out around men? If the answer is no or maybe, then you should start out with a Women’s only gym or the Co-ed with the Women’s option. Once you become more comfortable and confident in your environment, move up to the co-ed option. If you really enjoy the women’s only atmosphere, that’s okay too! Whatever makes you feel more at ease being there. I personally enjoy the co-ed gym.
Okay so you’ve chosen the gym that suited you best and you’ve strut through the doors (or maybe dragged yourself in), now what? If you’re an absolute beginner and would like to take things slow, then I recommend starting with the circuit machines. Most gyms have an area of circuit machines that are all numbered. Full gyms with circuits, normally have adjustable machines that allow for the correct fit for individuals. For customizable precise circuit training programs, check out this site:
Please keep in mind that the circuit should be used during the beginner phase only. It will allow you to become comfortable with the machines and also your surroundings. Long term use of circuits have been known to cause overuse injuries so let this be your training wheels only! Keep in mind what I mentioned earlier about the circuits but if it gets you started, let that be your stepping stone.
I’m a huge proponent of cardiovascular health and I believe it’s the foundation for a solid gym or exercise program. I find it very useful to perform some cardio before starting my weight routine as it sends blood to the muscles, lubricates your joints and essentially gets you warmed up for your strength training routine. If you’re just starting out, you can begin with 10 minutes of cardio. I would then increase the time 1 minute a week. So next week you would perform 11 minutes a day, then 12 minutes a day the week after, etc. You have several options for your cardio workout from the bike, stepper, elliptical (my favorite) and treadmill. Try them all out to see which one you like the best. The more you like an exercise, the easier it will be to complete it. Some gyms have variations of this equipment and new advanced cardio machines that may pique your interest as well.
Do you know what’s absolutely essential to an amazing cardio workout? AMAZING bass busting jams! You need a good gym song list with some fast paced beats to get you motivated and into the “zone”. Here is my current cardio playlist:
1. Under Control (feat. Hurts) – Alesso & Calvin Harris
2. Do You Wanna – Alex Gaudino
3. This Is What It Feels Like – Armin Van Buuren
4. Wake Me Up – Avicii
5. Sweet Nothing (feat Florence) – Calvin Harris
6. Here 2 China (feat Dillion) – Calvin Harris
7. Titanium – David Guetta and Sia
8. Turn Down for What – DJ Snake & Lil Jon
9. Spectrum (Say My Name) – Florence & The Machine
10. Animals – Martin Garrix
11. Wizard (Original mix) – Martin Garrix & Jay Hardway
12. Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin
13. Human – Zedd, Nicky Romero
So how often should you be working out? In my opinion, a minimum of 3 days a week to start is absolutely essential. 5 days is optimal and four days is a good in between!
I’m not a fitness expert or a professional. What I’ve written is from experience and from finding out what works for me. Always remember to listen to your body. If you’re doing an exercise and it’s painful or doesn’t feel right, you should stop and find an alternate exercise. Always talk to your doctor about starting a new fitness program.
It’s important when you’re first building a relationship with the gym that you create a place that you actually don’t mind being in. So take your time, be patient and celebrate all of your successes, no matter how small.
Stay tuned for my next entry for people looking for more specific exercise routines. I’ll be sharing my routine which involves working one muscle group per day and more intense cardio.
I hope you found this helpful, even if all you did was tap your foot to a few of the songs listed above!
Congratulations to you if you’ve made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle and good luck on your fitness journey!