The time has come and you have made the battle cry of “I will do something about that extra inch or two that has suddenly appeared round my waist”.
The problem is you have no idea where to even start.
Where ever you choose to start, if it’s with a qualified fitness professional such as me, the one thing you will not be is judged. We take our hats off to the person that has decided now is the time to get off of the sofa and do something to make their lives better. No matter how long you have spent sitting on the sofa we know it is much harder to get up than stay sat in front of the television. You have our up most respect for trying, and our support towards your goals.
So what are you options?
Do you join a gym?
The problem with that is you think that everyone there is a super fit freak that is running around in lycra and leggings or chugging on protein shakes whilst checking out their muscles in the mirror after pumping some iron.
I understand that a gym can be very intimidating place for people, especially for those that are new to fitness. It can be felt that you will be judged by the people that are there. Having worked in commercial gyms for years I can see how the big shinny brand can be scary for a first timer with its branding of beautiful fit people with perfect sculpted bodies. There is also that contract you have to sign locking you into a years contract or so, which could be seen as a great thing as it could make you go as you are paying every month, on the other hand would be a waste of money if you stop going. If you are thinking of this option get a few days to try out the gym from the sales team and try as much as you can to see if you like the facilities and the people. Ask how much support the company is willing to give you on your journey.
You may go to your local leisure centre.
This is a great option as you can pay as you and they usually have a membership scheme if you find that you start getting in to it and will reduce the cost. The great thing about leisure centres is the variety that they offer. Everything from a gym with weights and cardio machines, through to pools and classes. Many have other sports facilities like squash or badminton to 5 a side football where you may find that playing team sports is a great way to achieve your goals with the support and the added bonus of the social aspect of team sports leading to a richer diversity of people you are meeting.
You may be advised by your doctor to join a GP referral scheme which your local leisure centre will usually run. This is where you get a prescription for exercise, much like you would get a prescription for pills at the chemist. You work with a specially trained instructor like me that have learnt how to train specific medical conditions. This will lead you with a tailored plan to bring you up to a point that you training safely at the government recommended weekly amounts.
Community classes may be a great option.
Many people go for this option as the classes are usually held in the local village or church hall and are relatively small and intimate with people that you may know from your local community. You have probably seen the banners outside of your local village hall advertising everything from zumba, clubbercise, Insanity, yoga and Pilates.
If you loved dancing at any point in your life there are loads o these classes that look at capturing that feeling and having a fun time where the work out happens because you are having a great time and moving.
The High Intensity classes like bootcamps and Insanity may seem a bit scary but they do work on the same premise of repeating one exercise for set period of time with in the class. The great thing about these is that each exercise can be modified to your fitness level and you only have to do as many as you can in that time. The first time it might only be two or three of them but over time you will see your progress as you increase to ten and past.
The mind and body classes things like Yoga and Pilates are great to start with. These classes have stood the test of time with yoga being around for hundreds of years and Pilates created in the first part of the last century. Each of these are slow moving allowing you to focus on the poses and exercises and of course are adaptable.
All of these are great ways of starting out and as with team sports have the added element of a social factor introducing you to people outside of your social circle and generally meeting people in the same point in life as yourself.
If you choose that this is a good route for you then you need to check that the instructor is qualified. If you are in the U.K they should hold a minimum of a level 2 fitness qualification (from any number of awarding bodies such as NVQ, YMCA, Active IQ) This is seen as the bare minimum for fitness instructors and will show that they have a general knowledge of anatomy and physiology for fitness and a teaching qualification which is either a gym instructor or exercise to music.
With Yoga and Pilates you should be looking for at least a Level 3 qualification. Yoga could be either level 3 or given by the British wheel of yoga which has a long period of training yogis in the UK.
I see my own studio as a Community set of classes and have attracted people that are new to fitness, which is exactly want I wanted to do. My classes are all very supportive of each other and generally have a laugh and a giggle during the class, giving the place a light and friendly feel. Having a smaller number of people in the class (I have a maximum of 12 or 15) allows me to ensure that every one is working safe and in the best possible way that they can that day.
You may look for a Personal Trainer (PT)
So the first thing that you want to look for with a PT is that they hold a minimum of a Level 3 qualification. In the UK, this in the minimum that is recognised in the industry. Most PT’s hold a Personal Training Diploma which is a number of qualifications rolled in to one. They hold as a basic set Advanced knowledge in Anatomy and physiology, Cardiovascular training, Weight Training, nutrition and weight management, along with a few others.
Most Pt’s can train most clients but you will usually find that each one will have a speciality according to their own interests, Some may train people for marathons or sporting events others like myself may specialise with specific populations (currently with Diabetes and Obesity, and hoping to add back care to that soon).
If you are new to training every qualified personal train will be able to make a tailor made training plan for you. The great thing is they can support you through all of your fears and achievements whilst adapting their planning towards your goals adapting the plan as you get results to allow you to move further than you may have thought you could.
A PT will do as much or as little as you want them to do. They can look at your diet and offer you adjustments that could see your nutritional intake becoming healthier and more suitable towards the goals that you set. They could set you a programme to do when you are not with them.
Personally I think that a PT should be giving you value for money helping you to get to places you can’t get to by yourself. For myself I want a PT to look at the things that I can’t do on my own, such as spot me with weights and when doing resistance training, ensuring that I am hitting the most correct lines of execution so that I get the most out of every rep. They should be finding things that interest and challenge you towards your goals.
Recently there has been a surge of online PTs. If you have the self motivation then this can be a great way of saving money on PT sessions and can work well. There are a number of online trainers that have helped their clients do well. If you go down this route have a look at how much support they offer and check out their social media from things like instagram and twitter. At the end of the day you have to like the person that is training you, Personality can count towards those results you want. Sometimes finding the right personality can be as important ans all the training plans in the world, the one that supports you and makes you want to do it is much more fulfilling than not wanting to do it.
Finally you may want to go it alone.
Now that’s a whole new blog which I will be tackling in my next post.