Christmas is the perfect time to reflect on the past year, looking back over the choices you made and resolving to do it much better once the 1st January comes around.
For most of us though, it seems to be that we didn’t lose last year’s Christmas weight, or we didn’t achieve anything significant to brag about. So if your New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to shift those pounds or run a marathon, then you will need to join a gym!
Luckily, DW Fitness Clubs have collaborated with Bikini Fitness competitor and professional personal trainer, Carly Tierney, to give you 10 top tips which will change the way you approach a new gym membership.
The first item on our list is to make sure that you create a schedule for when you can go to the gym, what you want to do when you get there and what goals you want to achieve.
As Carly says: “When you step foot in the gym you should always have a plan of what you are going to do. Beginners can fall into the trap of not planning ahead, they wait until they get to the gym and just do whatever they want. This leads to a lack of direction and results will fall short.”
- Ask for help
We don’t imagine that you’re going to know how to use everything straight away, so it is important that you book an induction before your first session. The gym staff will show you how to use the equipment and answer any questions you have.
It could be worthwhile to book a session with a personal trainer to start you off. Your PT will develop a workout which suits you and your goals, along with advising you on fuelling your workouts.
Carly says: “Why is it that many of us step into a gym and risk injury and wasting our time by guessing something as important as what to do with our bodies? A good personal trainer will educate, support and help you push yourself beyond your limits. We’re here to help, just ask.”
- Warm up
Arguably the most important part of any workout, warming up prepares your muscles for the oncoming exercise. Any workout where you haven’t sufficiently warmed up can result in strained or torn muscles, potentially putting you out of action for a long time.
Carly’s advice is to change your workout, rather than eliminating the warm up. “If you’re short of time, adjust your rest periods. Do not miss your warm up. Not only does skipping a warm up increase your risk of injury but it can significantly reduce the effectiveness of your training session.”
They say that abs are made in the kitchen, and with good reason! Your body needs fuel both pre- and post-workout.
“You can work your butt off performing the perfect workout plan, using the best form and the most intensity but unless your nutrition is sound then you will not get anywhere.”
Along with the correct nutrition, you must always remember to stay properly hydrated during your workout. A good way to find out how much water you have lost during a workout is to weigh yourself before and after – you might be shocked!
Whilst cardio is an essential part of any workout, spending an hour pounding the treadmill isn’t going to help you to reach your goals.
According to Carly: “Cardio is often the ‘go to’ exercise of choice for gym newbies wanting to lose weight. However, cardio can damage your metabolism by burning your muscle as well as fat, leaving you in a worse position than when you started.”
Not only will mixing it up help to work different parts of your body, it will keep you interested too!
- Weight training
Many women fear that they will get big and bulky when they start lifting weights. However, building muscle burns fat and will result in a lean, sculpted body.
We can’t stress enough the importance and benefits of lifting weights, as Carly says: “Weights help to shape your body, increase strength, protect your joints, increase your metabolism, burn fat, increase confidence whilst decreasing anxiety and stress.”
- Challenge yourself
You should constantly be pushing yourself to improve, as staying in your comfort zone can result in plateauing, where you stop seeing changes and you struggle to reach your goals.
“The body adapts to workouts whether they be weight workouts or aerobic workouts. Workouts should be cycled every four to six weeks for maximum effect.”
- Focus on yourself
It is easy to get distracted by what others are doing in the gym, particularly if they are physically stronger or leaner than you. Don’t forget that everybody is on their own fitness journey, you might be on your chapter 2 whilst they’re all the way on to chapter 11. You’ll get there eventually!
- Stick at it
Finally, the best way to reach your goals is to stick at them and remember to follow all the tips above. We collated some research last year which showed that 77% of people who resolved to get themselves in shape failed to stick to their fitness plan – don’t let yourself become one of them!