For some reason when I was 19 years old and new to Vancouver I decided to buy a lifetime membership to Fitness World – I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was. But I will say it was a very good decision. Besides the fact that I probably have thee lowest monthly dues on any given day of the week I have been able to maintain a pretty solid fitness level for years.
Soon after I chose a career in fitness and became a personal trainer. During my two years in this role I saw so many people come through the gym, but not everyone would stay. Sometimes they gave up because it was too hard, sometimes they didn’t give it long enough to see results and sometimes they simply didn’t see the results they were looking for. But there were always new ones to replace those who didn’t last.
Things haven’t changed much over the last 23 years (gave it away). Every January the gym fills up with fitness hopefuls and their shiny, new fitness cards (Thank you Steve Nash for giving me a handy bar code card for my keychain) and by mid February many of them have left. To those who stick it out I salute you, along with those die hards that show up faithfully at 6 am most week days. What’s the difference between the two groups? Time. Just time. And the decision to keep going over time.
All of us start somewhere on the path to better fitness. When I started running again after my children were born I would run one block, walk two. I worked up to running five minutes walking 1 until after many years and many miles I could actually run a 1/2 marathon without stopping. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to do that, but I’m still out there working at it. And that’s the key.
So if there’s anything I can say to the newbies at the gym and on the seawall it would be this:
- Don’t stop, really – just keep going
- Be aware of your heart rate and stay in your training zone – combine working in your fat burning zone & cardio zone (research this)
- Listen to your favourite music, choose upbeat songs
- Combine cardio with weight training – muscles burn more calories than fat, and being strong is sexy
- When you do weight train, proper form matters – move through each exercise with full range of motion. If you’re unsure ask someone who works in your gym to help you or watch a video on YouTube
- While you’re working out, focus – listen to your body, think about the muscles you’re using, be aware of your breath (don’t hold it)
- Speaking of muscles, take the time to learn their names – relationships always grow stronger when you’re on a first name basis
- Workout at least 3 times a week, 4 is better and 5 is the best. Stay active on days off
- If you’re getting frustrated & feel like giving up, consider investing in a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you on track
- Drink lots of water, stay hydrated
- Start choosing healthier food – the better the fuel, the better your body will run. And don’t overeat at any meal
- Better to eat smaller meals more frequently during the day and don’t eat late at night
And remember, those of us in the gym or on the seawall who you think are in better shape than you – we’re actually rooting for you. So don’t give up!