January 22, 2013
At the dawn of a new calendar year, many people decide it’s time to turn over a new leaf and shed those extra pounds they accumulated over the previous 12 months. Though it’s noble to want to lose weight and improve your health with a new exercise regimen, there are a few things both men and women should remember to ensure the next trip to the gym doesn’t end in injury.
1. Be wary of the idea of “no pain, no gain.” Many beginners feel their workout isn't working if it's not hurting. While mild pain is to be expected, more serious pain could be indicative of a bigger problem. For beginners, muscle soreness after the first couple of workouts is normal. This can be painful, but it's often a result of working muscles that haven’t been used in quite awhile. This pain should subside, and once the muscles grow accustomed to the work, the pain, stiffness or soreness should no longer appear after a workout. If the pain persists, do not continue to exercise through an injury. Any persistent pain should be discussed with your physician.
2. Know your limits. If you’re a beginner, you need to be especially aware of your exercise limits. Initially, you shouldn't attempt to do exercises your body can't handle. Lifting too much weight is common for beginners. Ideally, you should lift smaller amounts when beginning a workout to get the motion of the exercise down. As your workouts progress, you can then gradually add more weight. Many fitness professionals feel adding 10 percent each week is a safe and effective approach, but you’ll know after a few workouts what works best for you. It's good to push yourself, but don't push too hard and increase the risk of injuring yourself.
3. Work with a trainer. Personal trainers are able to teach beginners how to use exercise machines and stretch properly and can answer any questions you have. Hiring a trainer can be expensive, but many gyms offer one or two free personal training sessions to new members, so take advantage of them! Once those free sessions are finished, you may continue with the trainer or choose to go on your own.
4. Focus on doing fewer repetitions, more sets. A common mistake when beginning an exercise regimen is to dive right in without really knowing the ins and outs of a routine. For example, many people load up on repetitions (reps), thinking that the more reps they do, the more effective their workout will be. However, beginners often find that fewer reps but additional sets is more effective. So, instead of doing 4 sets of 10 reps, do 5 sets of 8 reps. This detail might seem too small to make a difference, but beginners often tire near the end of a set; doing fewer reps per set can help you avoid fatigue and make the most of each repetition and set.
5. Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout an exercise regimen to remain hydrated. Maintaining proper fluid levels helps avoid cramping and dehydration, which can bring their own batch of painful side effects, including nausea and heart palpitations. If you work out in the morning, be sure to drink water before beginning to overcome any dehydration that may have occurred while you were sleeping. If you prefer to work out in the evening, be sure to drink water throughout the day so your body is fully hydrated when it’s time to hit the gym.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Melanie Lewis of N Shape offers the following tips on what you should do and things to consider before beginning a new exercise regimen.
• Visit local gyms and find one that you feel comfortable in. We are always passing out free guest passes for new people to come try our gym, especially our classes. There are plenty of gyms to choose from here in Statesboro, you just have to find one where you really gel with the staff and people and one that you are comfortable with.
• Make sure that you have had a physical. It is vital that you are up to date with your health. There are so many health issues that can make or break your workout routine.
• Hire a certified personal trainer. They can adjust and give you a safe workout program that will lead you to a healthy body and mind. So, do your research and find certified instructors.
IT'S A GIRL THING
Kathy Powell of LOA Fitness for Women explains why some women might prefer an all-women's gym.
• A more comfortable environment. When women are more comfortable exercising, they will work out harder and reach better results.
• A staff trained specifically to help women reach their best results quickly.
• The chance to develop friendships with other women. Many women have met and made friends at the gym that they otherwise would not have met.
NEED HELP LOSING WEIGHT?
Terry Dry of the Metabolic Research Center explains how MRC's weight-loss program differs from some other popular programs.
• A friendly, caring professional staff that understands the needs of clients
• One-on-one weigh-ins and support
• A maintenance plan to follow up, so clients keep the weight off
• A program that has been proven to work for over 25 years
IT'S GETTING PERSONAL
Whitney Gregory of Studio on Main shares the benefits of one-on-one workouts with a personal trainer and her advice for those who may feel a little intimidated by the idea of hiring one.
• The quality of the workout. Trainers are able to cater specifically to the needs of their clients. This includes making sure the client has proper form and breathing techniques.
• Motivation. A personal trainer offers motivation and encouragement to the clients to challenge themselves to reach their goals. One great motivational technique that I love is physical evaluation through monthly measurements or fitness tests. This helps the trainer and client to monitor the client's progress more accurately.
Personal training is just that — personal — so no one should feel intimidated. Consultations are done with each potential client before he or she even purchases personal training sessions. During these consultations, the trainer will listen to your needs and explain what he or she can do for you. You should feel comfortable with your trainer; if you don’t, then they probably aren’t a good fit for you. Most trainers are like therapists — very understanding and encouraging.
Whether you're a beginner or a longtime gym member, sometimes it's easy for your fitness train to get off track. Here, local pros share their tips for staying motivated and meeting your fitness goals.
• Write out your goals. Writing down your short- and long-term goals helps you see your progress as you go along. Put this somewhere you can see it daily.
• Reward yourself. Treat yourself as you reach your goals. Great rewards include things like a new pair of athletic shoes or a new workout top.
• Find a partner. It’s always great to have a friend or trainer to motivate and support you.
• Take monthly body assessments.
• Enter special programs and contests. These make exercise fun, and you'll want to exercise more often. For example, LOA Fitness offers seasonal boot camps, group fitness classes, accountability contests, small group training/partner training and a motivational point system. Beginning in February, we will be offering a “Get Lean in 13” six-week weight-loss challenge, and the winner will receive a large cash prize.
—Kathy Powell, LOA Fitness for Women
• Make time for you. You only live once, so take care of your body!
• Join a 24-hour fitness facility that will allow you to exercise at any hour of the day.
• Find a gym that is close by (school, job, home).
• Try new activities and classes that are fun. Here at N Shape, we have a wide variety of classes, including boot camp, rowing, yoga, ballet fit, and of course, the ever-so-popular Zumba. We have something for everyone!
—Melanie Lewis, N Shape Fitness
• Vary your workout. Switch it up so you don’t get bored with the same old thing.
• Keep a journal. Write down your progress and weight loss to keep your goal in sight.
• Find like-minded people. Get to know the folks at the gym, or bring along a friend to keep you interested.
• Make it routine. Plan to exercise at the same time on the same days so it becomes a habit.
• Stick with it. Commit to 6–8 weeks — not just the month of January — and you’ll make it over the “quitting hump.”
• You don’t have to think. With the combination of trainers and classes available at the gym, you don’t have to think about how to do it; just show up and do it!
—Brandon Blair, 180 Fitness