Starting & Staying with Fitness


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Starting & Staying with Fitness

As the Summer draws to an end, those of us who started out with the best intentions of being healthy begin to dwindle too…

We start the New Year feeling positive, optimistic and motivated to start exercising, to eat well, cut down on alcohol etc. So, why do so many of us struggle to stick to those well intended resolutions?

As a self confessed exercise enthusiast and personal trainer covering the Hersham and Walton on Thames area, I hear the same questions and statements over and over, and I’m going to give you some tips to stay motivated and true to yourself, as well as quash some of those common exercise myths.

Don’t be too hard on yourself…You made the commitment to join that gym/sign up for those classes, which shows that you DO have self motivation. That’s a good place to start, and we all have to start somewhere.

Once you have taken out that membership, ask the gym staff to sit down with you and work out a programme that you are comfortable with, it is part of the membership after all, so don’t be afraid to approach them, that is what they are there for and they are well used to all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. So, take a deep breath and go and ask for help.

Secondly, so many of my female friends and family are so self conscious about what they look like, and they worry they will be judged in a gym environment. Yes, there are mirrors. Yes there will be lycra and lots of people, but not necessarily super fit… We all have our hang ups (even fit people do!), and most of us when working out, are in ‘the zone’ and pay no attention to anyone else in there. We are too busy sweating on the treadmill and trying to keep ourselves focused on our own training, than to worry about what anyone else is doing.

MYTH 1 – The gym is NOT heaving with lots of beautiful, slim, toned fitness models, either male or female. These days, I would say the average age is mid 30’s all the way up to sprightly 80 something’s and all of varying shape and size.

MYTH 2 – You don’t have to be super slim to be toned and fit and healthy!
As an amateur triathlete, I remember being a bit blasé about competing in some of my first triathlons. The women that were several sizes bigger than me were some of the fittest and fastest I have ever seen! This surprised me, and this is down to the media’s portrayal of what we ‘should look like’ and what women ‘look’ like in sport…And another amazing thing, ANYONE can take part in a triathlon. There are so many different distances and options, and this makes is much more accessible and appealing to us amateurs. What’s more, its actually fun!

MYTH 3 – Doing crunches or sit-ups by themselves will get rid of belly fat and give you a lovely toned stomach…
I get asked about this all the time, as so many of my clients all seek that toned, flat washboard stomach. It is achievable of course, but I’m afraid a few sit ups just aren’t going to work.
We all need to be including cardio and strength training as part of our exercise regime. And yes, cardio is going to get that heart rate up and make you sweat, which is a positive, as that’s when the calories are being burned, and the heart is on the way to becoming more efficient, again, a massive positive!

Strength training is an integral part of any exercise regime, but working out with weights and resistance is NOT going to bulk us ladies up like Arnold. Unless your goal is to become a bodybuilder, in which case, a different approach is needed. However, for the most, it’s about strengthening that muscle and improving the muscle tone which gives us that definition and sculpted look.

Again I reiterate, you will not bulk up if you are taught the correct approach to resistance training (and any decent personal trainer/fitness instructor will be able to help you with this).

I could go on, and on…There are so many myths and tips out there.

The best advice I can give you, is to take a deep breath and go for it. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Keep the training varied to avoid boredom, and if you can’t bear the thought of a gym, or cannot commit to several sessions a week to justify the cost, then try a personal trainer, try a local exercise group (there are quite a few locally). The benefits of participating in a class, means that you push yourself that little bit further, you can switch off and just tune into what the instructor or personal trainer is telling you to do.

You might be surprised at how soon you start to see some results, and once you do, you will wish you had started a year ago. After all, a 60 minute workout is just 4% of your day…So no more excuses…!
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