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Getting Started

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

Many of my clients have spoke about intimidation as the main reason for postponing their health. This could come from the environment of the gym or it could be from the idea of the long road ahead of them. The physical task of exercise, however, seemed to be pretty low on the list. This came as somewhat of a shock to me. I have never felt intimidated by the gym nor the path ahead because I started at a young age and knew that I was not where I wanted to be. I've always felt comfortable because I began training with friends who had similar goals. This was a great environment for a beginner. Unfortunately, not everyone has this opportunity.

     One of the best ways to begin any journey is to find a guide. The best guide for this particular journey is a Fitness Professional. This could be a Personal Trainer or Group Instructor, depending on your training preference. Any CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) worth their weight (look for upcoming article on this topic) knows the best ways to ramp up your progress while reducing recovery and injury. They will also make your training more effective by designing a program to fast track your progress from where you are to where you want to be. Not just some cookie cutter fitness magazine’s workout of the week that makes false claims with catchy titles.

     One common misconception for beginners is that they had a great workout because they were tired after the session and sore the next day. This means nothing. Read that again. It's easy to wear the muscles out. But how does it match up with the preset goals? Is it going to enhance and energize the next workout? Or will it simply cause fatigue to the point of increasing sedentary behavior for the next couple of days?

     Meet Bob. Bob wants to lose weight because his doctor told him he is obese. Bob decides to workout. Bob goes to the local “no judgement zone” and gets a membership. Bob sees how busy the gym is and decides to get on whatever machine is open. This leads to some cardio, calf raises, some machine with a weird push back, pull down thingy that he is not sure he is performing right, and takes some advice from a guy doing curls with a lifting belt. Bob feels accomplished. So accomplished, in fact that he grabs a slice of pizza on his way out of the door. Yes I said on his way out of the door. Some “fitness facilities” offer their clients pizza. Anyways, Bob wakes up the next day not being able to walk from lack of ankle mobility, intense leg pain, and some lumbar and hip pain from the weird thingy. Bob decides to lay around for the next week barely moving and plans to never go back to the gym. Bob did not meet his goals. Don’t be like Bob.

     Avoiding these possible repercussions will be second nature to a CPT. Programming is the most important key to any successful routine. As always, nutrition plays a huge role in fitness no matter the goal. Most CPTs will also be able to suggest healthy eating habits to compliment the training program. When deciding on a trainer and a gym, ask every question you may have to ensure they are the best fitting for your goals and personality. If you prefer a certain type of trainer (i.e. male or female, older or younger, laid back or more intense) ask if they have options. It is also a great idea to check out their website to see if they have trainer profiles or blogs so that you can get a feel for their different styles and knowledge. You may also want to ask if they offer protein bars or shakes for post workout nutrition to save some time and extra trips to Vitamin Shoppe after every workout.

     What should I focus on if I do not want to workout with a trainer? The first piece of advice would be to start slow. If your body is not accustomed to exercise, you will probably be sore the next day whether you feel tired after the workout or not. This is usually not a big deal, but could cause issues if you have a physically demanding job. This could also lead to overuse injuries such as tendinitis or muscle strains/pulls. I would also highly suggest researching some fitness websites and trainer blogs to get some information on beginner programs to increase success. Another issue to be aware of is caloric intake. You should not cut your calories while starting a exercise routine. This should be worked in later after your body begins to adapt to the extra work. Your body will need extra calories to recover from the exercise. Eat more to do more.

     Lastly, work on active recovery. This means stretching, staying hydrated, and mobilizing joints. Exercise stresses the body and recovery is where the magic happens. For more on active recovery check out my article – Active Recovery

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