Tuesday, 7 February 2012

You Joined A Gym... Then What?

The first time I entered the gym in September 2010, I felt totally out of place.  I didn't know where to go or what to do but I saw the Elliptical and it became my best friend.

Basically, I slapped my bottle of water in the holder, got on, didn't touch a thing and started pedalling.  The thing lit up like a Christmas tree.  I, a person who never set food in a gym, was WORKING OUT!  Yes!  I pedalled like crazy and was secretly trying to beat the guy next to me by going faster.  The screen on the machine was saying I was going super fast but then I noticed the calorie burning thing was barely moving.  Ten minutes into the workout, I was out of breath and my legs were burning.  I slowed the pace for about three minutes, then stopped the machine, stepped off and almost fell on my face.  My legs were so wobbly!  I could barely walk around the machine to spray it clean.  I was so ashamed!  My legs could barely carry me to the change rooms!

We've all been there!  We all have to start somewhere.  I am blogging about this because a friend has just joined a gym and went through a similar experience on her first day at the gym.

The number one rule is START SLOW.  You should get a free orientation of the equipment when you join a gym.  Get one of the people who works there to get you familiar with each piece of equipment.  I did so after one month of feeling like a failure at the gym.

Tips To Help You Get Started

  • Put the machine at the easiest level
  • Warm up (you can do this on the Elliptical too... just do 5 mins. of slow pace to get your heart going)
  • Then, up the pace a little for one or two minutes and slow back down for one or two minutes.  (The idea is to build your muscles and build your cardio strength.  Cardio was my nemesis and now, I can push through it)  Do this for about 10 minutes.
  • Do a five minute cool down... slow paced and bring your heart rate back down.
  • Drink lots of water
Do this three times a week until you notice your workout is becoming too easy.

Then graduate to doing longer periods at a faster pace and higher levels

Bring music (I can't workout without it.and be sure to choose a music at a slower pace when you begin.  The music also zones me out from the gym!  The more I love the songs, the more I want to keep moving.), never mind the other people oggling you (and if it really bugs you, oggle them back!  LOL!  I did and it works), track your workouts (the speed, the calories you burn, the time you workout... it's all there on the elliptical machine... just write it down in a book or track it online) as it helps you see the progress.  Stay positive.

You will soon find that the Elliptical alone will be boring.  I suggest you check out SparkPeople.  I got tons of tips there and there are many many exercise and stretching demos for you to use.  I built up my gym routine with that.  I began with focusing on lower body weight equipment first to learn how to use it (and it strenghthens your legs for the elliptical).  Then I graduated to upper body and last but not least core exercises.  When using the weights, it's always good to do a light 10 minute cardio before... it warms up your muscles... and after.. it gets the circulation flowing back to your heart.  This is just my way of doing things, other people may do other things.

I myself stay away from the treadmill.  Not good on my legs and my shins really suffer on it.

I go to drop-in classes that are free for members.  There are step classes, boot camp classes, cardio-kickboxing classes, etc...  When I first attended, I slid to the back of the class and went at my own pace.  If I really couldn't do a full two minutes of power jumping, I marched into place, drank a bit, caught my breath and then pushed on again.  I always aimed to FINISH the class.  I never walked out.  The success was that I pushed myself to the end of the class.

Be patient with yourself.  You will not become a gym pro overnight.  Just keep going to the gym.  Don't give up.  Schedule your workouts.  Write down what you are going to do and do it.  If for a really really good reason you cannot go to the gym that night (the roads are dangerously icy, your child is sick, etc.), make a point to work out at home.  Have a few fitness DVDs ready and do a workout.  The hardest thing is getting yourself to the gym!  That is half the battle, once there, work it out!

Make sure you eat a small snack before you workout (half hour before or so) to give you energy.  You want carb and protein.  Here are some ideas:

granola bar with nuts
Apple slices with peanut butter
Low fat yogourt with fruit
Low fat cheese with fruit
Oatmeal mixed with low fat yogourt and fruit

Again... this is just my way of doing things.  You might hear different things from different people but I basically did what I thought was good for me.  I by no means am a pro but I am much better than when I started.

Wishing you success!  Now get back to that gym and show those people you mean business and you will stick this!  It is better to have been on the machine for two minutes than not at all.  Prove it to yourself that you can do this!  :o)

The Sarcastic Klicker

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