…but where do I start?

So, now that January is done, most people start reassessing their new years resolutions. Some are doing great at it and have managed to have self control and discipline as the year has been progressing while others are struggling to get into a routine. One of the most common goals people have going into the new year is they want to lose weight, be healthier, or they want to go to the gym more regularly. As a personal trainer, “Where do I start?” is the most common questions I get asked when people are considering going to the gym, whether it is their first time stepping into one or if they were there before but fell off the wagon. The gym can seem like a pretty intimidating place because everyone seems so intense, they’re all in there with their headphones in, lifting weights and drinking from their protein shakers. No one seems to be lost as they navigate from one machine to another effortlessly setting it up and going through reps like they’ve been doing it forever.

The funny thing about that concept is that, its all about perception. As a fitness and health professional, I can tell you for a fact that the majority of people have no idea what they’re doing at the gym and those that do, are so proud that you’ve made the conscious decision to join a gym that we would love to help you out if you felt lost. About the earphones/headphones that I mentioned earlier, most of the people who you see with their headphones on would not be there if they had forgotten them at home. They’re a means to shut off the world whether it is because we want to hide the distractions around the gym – which in that case, you would not be noticed, or its because we want to hide how awkward we feel being in the gym – even though we’re  a regular goer.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and hopefully you’re feeling more at ease with the idea of going to a gym, where do you start? I mean, you’ve made it through the entrance, water bottle in hand, new workout shoes – now what?

Well, lets start with the reason you went to the gym. Was it to lose weight? Was it because you wanted to be active again? Was it because you want to rehab an injury? Get better at a certain exercise and/or lift? These exercises will help you determine what kind of gym you’re joining. If you are looking at being active again, maybe a rec center might be a good start. Somewhere where you can play various sports at a recreational level – one that has a basketball court or a tennis court or a pool. Something that gets you moving and it’s not always the same thing. Joining a coed recreational team is always a good start if you’re not sure where the various rec centres are at. There are many different leagues and sports in Calgary – for more information on the Calgary Sport and Social Club, click here.

If you are looking at rehabbing an injury, knowing the ins and outs of the injury is going to help you determine what exercises you can do and which ones you might need more help and guidance for. For this one, talk to a qualified professional when it comes to injury rehab, they can be an athletic therapist, a physio, or your surgeon. Make sure they’re someone who has in depth knowledge of your injury and they can guide you to your recovery. Example: If you sprained your ankle two weeks ago, maybe single leg power exercise might not be the best exercise to return to because it is too painful to go on your toes – maybe focusing on the balance and strength on the ankle might be better. Unfortunately, not all injuries are as “straight forward” as an ankle injury. Some of them mask and appear as something completely different. In cases like this, knowing what is the main cause of the pain/discomfort is a great asset. A qualified coach, trainer, or athletic therapist would be a great place to start.

If it was to lose weight, the most basic concept is that you want to spend/burn more calories than what you are consuming. This means that your exercises have to be ones that spend a lot of energy. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is always a good place to start. These are where timed exercise come into play with minimal rest time. This is where you see a work to rest ratio – 30 seconds on: 30 second off and etc. These exercises keep your heart rate at a higher level and you are working your anaerobic metabolism which requires a lot of energy as it is not as efficient as your aerobic metabolism (slow, steady exercise – ie: riding a bike). These are great for people who like different exercises as they get bored or if they have only a short amount of time to get a workout in. They don’t require lots of equipment – most times body weight exercises can do the trick. As you get more confident with the body weight exercises, you can start adding weight or speed to them. There are various really good HIIT classes across Calgary (I’ll tag some of my favorite classes/studios for HIIT at the bottom) and some boot camp instructors are very good at making sure that they pick the right exercises for you. Now on to the next question, “How do you know if an exercise is good for you or not?” This question can only be answered with another question. How do you feel while doing the exercise? Meaning, do you know what you are trying to achieve? Are you doing the exercise pain free? Are you able to do it pretty close to how the instructor/trainer/coach is doing it? If the answer to any of those questions is “No” then probably the exercise is not the right one for you – it might be “not the right one yet”, or “not the right one at all” and that only time will tell.

If you’re trying to get better at a certain exercise – having a professional that knows how to break down the movement and rebuild it back with you is the best way to go. So many people expect a simple video on Youtube or Instagram to help teach them complex movements and I’m sorry to burst your bubble but sometimes that is not enough. Unless your body is exactly the same as the person you saw doing the video, you’re going to have to tweak a couple things with the form. You won’t know what to tweak unless there is someone there that knows how to watch your movement pattern and compare it with the “proper form’. This is why even professional coaches/athletes work with someone else to help them get better at their craft.

Some of my favourite HIIT studios/classes in Calgary are found below

Square1Fitness

  • Not only do they do group classes but they also have qualified kickboxing coaches, classes just for women, mobility classes & etc
  • They have also created this amazing community where everyone feels welcomed and accepted.

Crush Camp on 17th Ave

  • Voted as one of “Calgary’s Top Boutique Studio” by Calgary’s Top Fitness Awards because they have created a community that encourages you to give the best of yourself while sweating
  • They have qualified trainers who are at the top of the industry ready to help you achieve any of the goals that were mentioned above.

Right2Roam Outdoor Training

  • Right2Roam was created by Anna Levy because she wanted to share her love for the outdoors along with fitness.
  • Anna is not only a certified personal trainer, she also specializes in pre/post natal fitness (so all you mama’s and mama’s to be, check her out!) but she also has her level II FST (Fascial Stretch Training) which she uses to make sure that her clients are moving to the best of their abilities.

Do you guys have any favourite studios to check out? I am always looking for more welcoming and fun workout environments.

Till next time,

 

Whits

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