This article was taken from Get Active magazine which is free in this week's Southern Star. In shops everywhere now.
Niamh Hayes has some words of advice and encouragement for anyone looking to return to, or make a start in a gym.
SOME of the most common resolutions people make at this time of year involve getting healthier and starting exercise, and these often involve joining a gym. Whether you have never stepped foot inside one, it’s been a while since you’ve been, or you want to find a new one, going to a gym can be a daunting thought. But with a little knowledge as to what you’re looking for, things can be made much easier. Here are some considerations to get you started:
Before you start training in a gym, think about your goals. They will help you decide what type of gym to join because different ones cater for different things. Your goals will also keep you going if you ever feel like giving up.
Some examples are to get healthy, get fit, lose fat, reduce the risk of certain medical conditions, prolong your life, be able to run a marathon, get stronger, increase your mobility and flexibility, meet people and have a new social outlet, gain more confidence, or improve your mental health.
We are blessed with an abundance of gyms across West Cork. One of the easiest ways of picking one is by location. Is there a gym that is convenient to you and which will fit in with your routine? Maybe that means picking one near your home or perhaps you pass one on your daily commute to work and you will find it easier to keep it up if you can go either on the way to or from work. Opening times of local gyms also need to be considered. However, if a specific gym offers something which you really want, you might be happy to drive out of your way. It is about whatever works best for you.
The cost of gym memberships should also be considered but there are lots of options out there. As well as monthly and yearly memberships, many gyms offer pay-as-you-go options. This is a good way to test out different facilities and classes and can give you an opportunity to find the one you love. Like any other product or service, shop around until you find one that suits your needs but remember, you can’t put a price on your health. Good health must come first so keep that in mind when choosing.
Like starting anything new, it is important that you learn how to train in a gym properly from the beginning. Or if you’ve been out of training for a while, it is always good to do a refresher. It can be daunting and intimidating walking into a gym, looking at all the equipment and not knowing where to start. The best thing to do is to get someone to teach you how to use everything and do every exercise correctly. Gyms will have a coach or trainer who will be qualified to teach you. You can opt for personal training, where you do one-to-one sessions with a coach, or semi-private classes where the coach will train several people at the same time. Group sessions are good too, but you will get less individualised time. Once you have grasped the concept of most exercises, you will be able to do things yourself. A coach will also help you set out goals and will monitor them to help you progress.
Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness. It can help to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass, which in turn helps to increase your metabolism and you will burn more calories throughout the day. It can also increase bone density, help manage chronic conditions, improve your quality of life and help to keep you injury-free. Strength training comes in many forms such as body weight exercises, resistance training, weight machines and free weight training using dumbbells and barbells. You should incorporate strength training into your regime but talk to a coach or trainer before starting.
Cardio training develops cardiovascular or aerobic fitness which improves the ability of your heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the rest of your body. It improves the health of your heart, helps to reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases and makes everyday tasks easier with improved stamina and endurance. There are two type of cardio; aerobic training is low intensity, long training sessions and means that oxygen is present; anaerobic training is shorter, more intense sessions where oxygen is not present. Both types have their benefits, and should be included in your training plan, along with strength training.
Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, rowing, swimming, skipping and dancing. Altering the mode, frequency, duration and intensity with ensure you continue to progress and won’t get bored.
Many gyms run a variety of classes which can be a great way of getting into exercise. You will train in a group environment and under instruction. Examples include spinning, crossfit, bootcamps, aerobics, strength and conditioning, kettlebells and boxercise.
Consistency & support
As with any new habit, the key to success is consistency. When things aren’t going smoothly or progression is slowing, staying consistent and pushing through those barriers will have great benefits in the long-term. Always go back to your goals and remember why you started.
It will also be easier to be consistent if you have a good support network around you. This can be in the form of your family or friends by giving them regular updates on your training, it can be a training buddy who goes to the gym with you and keeps you accountable, or it can be a coach who helps you with your goals.
Remember, results don’t happen overnight so be patient with your goals and stick with it for the coming year.
As with any exercise, consult your doctor before beginning.