First things first I want you to remember two things as you read this post:
- Everyone has to start somewhere
- Don’t run before you can walk
I want to pull these things out first because it’s very easy to look at other people who are perhaps avid gym goers or generally just super sporty and think I will never be like them, or that they are a different breed of person! But everyone starts their fitness journey somewhere. Yes, some may be younger than others when they start and thus are more experienced but all of them once had to step foot in a gym for the first time, or try a new class, or attempt a home workout and I am sure they probably all felt the same anxiety and uncertainty. Many of us fear the unknown and that’s totally ok, but we shouldn’t let it stop us. I also wanted to add the second point before we begin because I think it is really important. So many times, I hear that people have thrown themselves into the deep end, had an utterly horrendous experience and are then put off for life! I mean you aren’t going to take Joe Bloggs for example who has never exercised in his life and throw him into a high intensity circuit class with 40 people he has never met and expect him to enjoy himself are you?!
Writing this blog enabled me to reflect on my own fitness experience, how I started compared to where I am now and the things I have learnt along the way. My initial journey began when I was around 16, influenced by the media and the opinion of others my goal was just skinny skinny skinny. My ‘fitness routine’ basically involved loads running and sit ups (obviously I was also disillusioned that this would make me lose belly fat faster). Fast forward to university and I stepped foot in my first gym. I mainly joined because everyone else did and spent most of the time on the running machine because that’s the only bit of kit I was confident I knew how to work! I generally went to the gym with others which helped me feel more comfortable in that environment and also attended some classes with my best friend such as boxercise and some yoga which I really enjoyed (I wouldn’t have dreamt of going by myself at that time!). Fast forward again and I am joining the gym at my office job in London. Now this felt a little more out of my depth as I was alone and had to work out how to use all the scary kit myself. I did have an induction, but after nearly falling off the running machine in front of the PT who took it, I was too busy dying of shame to take on board all the information I was getting. With a bit more disposable income in my pocket I took up personal training. This certainly helped me to become gym confident, I was trying new things, expanding my exercise repertoire and also honing in on the things I really enjoyed. My PT was great at putting up with me hungover most Fridays for my session … but also for understanding the things that really made me work hard, the competitive challenges and the circuit style workouts that left me absolutely dead. Before I knew it, I was signing up to a personal training course to become one myself!
Now, going back to my point of not running before you can walk. Normally the first thing lots of people ask is what type of exercise should I be doing to lose weight and how can I generally just get a bit fitter? Physical fitness can be defined as a state of physiological wellbeing that is achieved through a combination of good diet, regular physical exercise, and other practices that promote good health (medical dictionary). Thus, encompassing a whole host of different exercise types. Further still when it comes to losing weight the primary focus is always calories in vs calories out and ensuring you are expending more than consuming, which again can include all types of exercise. Of course, some people may have different goals such as becoming stronger, building more muscle etc which would mean a different exercise prescription, but the majority of people I initially meet are mainly looking for a general improvement in fitness and weight. With this in mind I always think its important to start with doing things you really enjoy! Try lots of different types of exercise and see what you like the most! Swimming, dancing, circuits, cycling, gym… there is a world of activities to choose from! I would also suggest you start small and often, for example including some daily walks into your routine and trying to make a simple schedule for the week of your activity.
Now I didn’t want to write this post as a sales pitch for everyone to join the gym, far from! But I am sure the majority of people reading are perhaps considering joining a gym or are already a member and do not make the most of it. Gyms can be a fantastic place, offering lots of classes, personal training, swimming etc. I also know that they can feel quite intimidating for many! The main thing you generally tend to hear from people who have recently joined the gym is that they are worried everyone is looking at them, they lack confidence in their own abilities, feel unsure on how to use the kit and have a general fear of the unknown. So, let me dispel some of these myths. Firstly, I can guarantee you that almost everyone in the gym is looking at themselves! Most of the time people are so in their own world that they barely even notice the person next to them! Secondly, I can completely relate to the kit as some of it does look like its just fallen off a space ship and I was the same myself! As far as I am aware the majority of gyms offer a free induction to those who join where you will be shown how to use the equipment and can get your bearings around the gym floor. Confidence always comes with time and consistency… the more you go the more confident you will get! Finally (and again no shameless plugging here) there are some brilliant personal trainers out there who can provide you with 121 coaching to super boost that confidence. This changed the game for me and my gym experience as I previously mentioned. I could write a whole blog post on what makes a good PT (and I probably will at some point) but number 1 for me is ensuring you really get on with them! Your PT should be able to encourage, motivate and challenge you, they should know when you are feeling uncomfortable or nervous and ensure they are adapting your sessions accordingly so you get the best experience every time you go! It may be worth having a look at what your gym (or potential gym) provides in terms of any PT introductory offers to allow you to get to know your trainer better and their style of training, but please don’t rule personal training out …I promise we are not all terrifying, six pack modelling, judgemental slave drivers!
My final point: Please don’t put it off. Things I hear every single day “I’ve blown it today, I will start tomorrow”, “I am going to start next week…this week is a write off”, “I’ve got loads on this month I will do more next month”, “I will make it a new year’s resolution”. NO. JUST NO. Your health and fitness are number 1 priority and therefore there is no better time to start than today! Even if after reading this post you try 1 new type of new exercise or even just go for a 30-minute walk then I have already added a small amount of value. If you then repeat this a couple of times a week then I will have added even more… and so on.
And always remember…. You’ve got to be a beginner before you can be anything else…