By Janice McCurdy, PTS/FIS, PRO TRAINER
The Fitness Centre (or gym) can be a very intimidating, even scary place for individuals who have never stepped foot in one before, but it certainly shouldn’t be that way. The fitness atmosphere should be one that is an all-accepting, non-judgmental and comfortable place to be enjoyed by all people that care about their health and wellness.
First off, please don’t feel that you have to be fit or even semi-fit before you start. I have heard this countless times over the years and it is very frustrating for me as a trainer. The sole purpose of a fitness centre is to help people get started wherever they are in their fitness journey. It should meet ALL needs, not just the athletic, fit person. There are however some tips for the new exerciser that may be beneficial to them when getting started and help them to stay the course for the long-term.
1. Take advantage of the tour and orientation before you begin. The orientation is usually free with your membership. The staff will demonstrate proper form and how the machines operate as well as answer any questions you may have.
2. Begin with the resistance machines rather than free weights. The machines offer support for back and chest and are much safer to use. The free weights require more knowledge of posture and form to avoid injury.
3. Start with lower resistance and higher repetition. This will help to increase your endurance and give you a good foundation for building up your strength.
4. Always do a proper warm-up. Warm-ups help keep the incidents of injury to a minimum. Try walking on the treadmill or using another piece of cardio for 3 to 5 minutes before doing any resistance work to warm up all your major muscles.
5. Have good, comfortable sneakers that offer proper support.
6. Take advantage of classes offered. Classes take the guesswork out of your workout as the instructor does all the planning and demonstration of the exercise. Plus, music helps keep you going and you will be with like-minded participants.
7. Ask questions! The staff are there and being paid to help you at all times. They love to help.
8. If possible, hire a Personal Trainer. The trainer can do all the planning and help you with an individualized workout with your goals in mind. Trainers are there throughout the workout, coaching and ensuring you are using proper form. They are trained in all aspects of fitness and can really take your training to the next level.
The gym can be a fantastic place for many reasons, including meeting new people and trying new things which will boost your confidence. You will soon discover that you can do things that you never thought possible. All you need to do is just take a deep breath and come through the door and let the journey begin.