Starting a fitness routine can be daunting. Even if you have the best intentions, feeling nervous or unprepared can make it pretty difficult to get even one foot through the gym doors.
Danny MacKinnon, general manager of Halifax's Room2Move fitness centre, says that if you can't bring yourself to take the plunge, maybe it's the gym, not you. "If the gym is convenient," he says, "If it has all the equipment you need, in my opinion, you're already set up for success."
Think about takin a fitness class
To a lot of new gym-goers, joining a fitness class is a daunting proposition that many avoid altogether. You think you won't be able to keep up, everyone will notice you, you'll kick to the left when everyone else kicks right. Not so, says MacKinnon.
"A good group fitness leader should be able to, generally, teach all levels of fitness in one class," he says. "If you're a beginner at yoga, you should still be able to attend a yoga class and still feel welcome and successful. You should know that you can work at whatever level you want and feel supported."
It also wouldn't hurt to tell the teacher or trainer that you're new -- don't be shy, that's what they're there for, to keep an eye out for you. Knowing someone is watching out for you might give you the security to give it your all.
How to choose a fitness class
Picking a class is also something you shouldn't do alone. Again, don't be afraid to ask the staff at your gym. They (should) want to help. If you're starting off as a complete beginner, maybe you don't want to jump right into cardio striptease or kickboxing. Then again, maybe you do. Remember: it's your workout, make it what you want it to be.
If you just can't get see yourself doing jumping jacks and side-steps in a room full of others, MacKinnon suggests starting slowly. Come in during off-peak hours and do some cardio. Work your way up to working with some of the lighter free weights.
Don't forget about pumping iron
Weight training is the main reason MacKinnon thinks that walking through the door of that gym is essential. "Weight training is so important for women and they don't get it as much as they get older," he says. "We're seeing all sorts of research to show how beneficial weights are to your health, in preventing osteoporosis, boosting bone density and speeding up metabolism."
So many women buy the at-home machines, MacKinnon adds, and end up having a really expensive clothes hanger.
"They never use it," he says. If a home gym is the way you want to work out, go for it. Just find a way to motivate yourself and to not be distracted by the mounds of laundry sitting next to your treadmill. "
Wherever you do, whatever way you choose, you've already done the hardest part: making the decision to get or stay healthy. After that, it's just a matter of sticking to it. And don't forget who you're doing this for. "Your gym experience is all about you," MacKinnon says. "You are the priority. That's just the way it is."
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