How to Get Started

Get Started

1. Get a check up and ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for physical activity. He/she might have ideas of the type of program that might be good for you.
2. Begin with a small class AND do your own simple workout in your home or walking in a safe neighborhood with a friend on the days the class does not meet.
3. Remember that just because the instructor and the class is doing it, does not make it right for you. If it hurts don’t do it! Just continue to move in a way that does not hurt until you can rejoin the class activity.
4. Start with small, simple movements and slowly work your way up to more difficult movements. Remember to patient with your progress.
5. Don’t sink a lot of money into a membership or a home gym until you have exhausted the less expensive options and stayed with your fitness goals for at 1-2 full years.

Class, Fitness Center, or Home Gym?

My first answer to the question, “Should I start my workouts by joining a class, a Fitness Center, or invest in a home gym?” is usually, “Join a class.” Not just because it keeps me employed but because of the camaraderie it develops. Once people establish relationships in their fitness classes, they are more likely to continue attending.

When you try a class and decide to stick with it because you like the activity, the instructor, and the time of the class fits neatly into your schedule, then get to know the other participants;

  • Ask when they stared attending the class and why they keep coming back
  • Ask them where the facility keeps the equipment (people always enjoy showing off how much they know, so let them)
  • Say, “Hello, my name is _________, and you are?”

It is the personal connection that will keep you attending and focused on your fitness goals. In fact, your body will actually complain if you miss a class or two. . . and it keeps me employed! :-)

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Individual Class

Benefits of the individual classes:
1. The classes tend to be much smaller so you receive more individualized attention
2. After attending for a year or more, you find yourself in a place where “everybody knows your name and their always glad you came” (to quote the theme song from the TV show Cheers). Classes between 6-20 people are just small enough for everyone to get to know each other but large enough to feel as though you are part of a health movement.
3. You can always find one that fits into your schedule even if you never thought you would be interested in “one of those” classes. If you try it, you may find you like it. If you don’t, there is always another class just a hop-skip-and a jump away.
4. Most classes are organized and run by smaller facilities which have looser payment regulations. They will be more likely to work with you to allow payment on your schedule while attending classes in theirs.
5. Classes have a great balance (pardon the pun) between cost and attention. Private classes, for example, are very expensive but the workouts are designed and run specifically for your needs. Very large classes, like the latest aerobic craze (we have gone from Step Classes, to Jazzercise, now to Zumba) are very fun and cost effective, but any questions you have about why your back hurts or your heart races, will probably go unanswered. So a class at a smaller facility typically does not charge more than the large classes but they offer much better attention to their participants.

The drawbacks of the Individual classes:
1. Classes must be offered in particular regimens. If an instructor is versed in Tia Chi, for example, he/she will not typically mix those movements with Zumba, or even Pilates. Therefore, the class might not be exactly suited for your needs, but something is always better than nothing.
2. I touched on this a bit above; Some classes become too large to be beneficial to individual needs. I know of a case in which a participant sat down during class because he “wasn’t feeling good” and the instructor could not see that person behind all the other participants. His heart attack went unnoticed until the class was over, participants ‘after class questions’ had been answered and the room was half empty. That is when the instructor, through no fault of her own (except by signing such a large class) noticed this man sitting in the back of the room (so as not to bother the rest of the class, he said) looking pale. The man was saved but I am sure everyone involved would have preferred that the participant get the medical help he needed sooner rather than later.
3. Some classes are too small and feel awkward; as if they are not really a class. Every one wants to feel as though they are a part of a popular movement, not the one that might go away due to “lack of interest”.

What type of class should I take?

Whenever I someone asks me this question, ask 2 questions in return;

1. What do you want to accomplish with your workout?
2. What is your schedule like?

If you want to lose weight, for example, good activities for you would be Aerobics or Swimming with weight lifting. It would be even better to combine Aerobics with Swimming and the weights. Aerobic exercise and Swimming are great for making All your body processes more efficient and it burns the most calories of any exercise style.

When I bring up the subject of Weight Lifting to some people, mostly women, they express concern about looking like a muscle-bound weightlifter. Keep in mind you are not taking steroids, or lifting weight 4-6 hours a day everyday! One hour 2-3 days per week will not result in the 20 year old Arnold Schwarzenegger look. What it will do, is pleasantly plump your muscles making them only slightly larger but much more defined. Large muscles are hungry muscles that love to eat up fat reserves. That is what will boost your metabolism.

Be sure to combine the Weight Lifting with stretching. Weight Lifting alone tightens the muscles making them shorter. Eventually, these short muscles restrict the movements of the joints and you end up walking like a Sumo Wrestler unable to move. You will have plenty of brawn but will need to hire someone to tie your shoes! Stretching those muscles, preferably directly after the weight lifting, while the body is warm will coax those, now stronger, muscles back into an elongated state. Yoga or Pilates pairs well with weight lifting.

Now if it is better endurance or lung capacity you are looking for, again, try aerobics.

Most people tell me they just want general, healthful fitness. For this, I steer them to Swimming, Pilates or a Dance class. In fact, any activity that truly appeals to you and you are likely to stick with will give you general fitness.

Remember that although you are better off for having started a fitness program, if you stop the program you greatly reduce the benefits you got from it. So fitness is a lifestyle just like eating right and keeping a positive attitude.

Enjoy your workout!

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Fitness Center

The benefits of Joining a Fitness Center:
1. They have classes, too!
2. They also have a variety of equiment to stave off bordem
3. They employ trained specialists who can help you with the equipment, and
4. Personal Trainers you can work with, generally for an additional fee.

The drawbacks of the Fitness Center are:
1. Timing; They tend to be busy at the same times you want to work out so finding an open piece of equipment can be a challenge.
2. Cost. Paying for a gym membership can require a second mortgage.
3. Gyms tend to be much more impersonal than individual classes. No one misses you when you don’t show up, so the anonymity works as a catalyst for excuses.

Which Fitness Center should I join?

Content coming soon.

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Home Gym

The benefits of the Home Gym:
1. Convenience. Since the equipment is right there in your home, you can be watching your kids at the same time you workout. You also limit excuses like, “it’s too cold to go out anywhere”.
2. You can invite friends and neighbors in to your house to work out with you thus providing the same atmosphere of comradery as the small class.
3. Most things in your home can be used as exercise equipment if you know how to use them. This is a very inexpensive way to work out.

The drawbacks of the Home Gym:
1. Because of the convenience, the workout is often taken for granted and is replaced by seemingly more important duties like taking down those cobwebs you can see from the treadmill, or cleaning that bathroom you haven’t been able to get to, or making a snack for a persistent child because he sees you are still at home.
2. Cost! Some exercise equipment can cost upwards of $20,000.
3. Space! How many of you have a whole extra bedroom they can devote to an entire home gym? Not only do you need the 6′ by 3′ space for the treadmill you want to get, but you need to enough room around it to get on and off the dumb thing!
4. Perseverance. Most people are very Gung-Ho when starting a new health regimen, but that only lasts 2-6 weeks. If you buy exercise equipment for your home in order to START a new routine you are likely to wind up with a very expensive clothes rack inside of a year. My best advice I can give here is to start small; use your own kitchen chairs, counters and floor space to start. Then graduate to unmotorized equipment costing $40-$100 each. If you find you are still exercising consistently after 2 full years, then a treadmill in the home might be warranted. The Treadmill should always be, in my opinion, the first (and sometimes the only) piece of motorized equipment for the home.
5. Expertise. How will you know if your body is in the proper alignment without an instructor? I have been teaching and taking exercise classes for over 20 years and I still find myself with improper body alignment if I don’t pay very close attention at ALL times.

What equipment should I buy?

Content coming soon.

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