So This is How It Starts

by DavalosMcCormack on January 6, 2009

Mondays at the gym are always packed. Every treadmill, stairmaster and bike is in use, the weight room is packed, you can’t find a space in the aerobics classes and there’s a long line of people waiting to play basketball. It’s as if people were trying to undo all the damage they did over the weekend.

But while normal Mondays are bad, the first Monday after the New Year are the worst. The regulars are back, and all keen to undo a couple of weeks of partying and eating. Plus there’s a whole new group.

You can easily spot them. They usually have shiny new outfits and unscuffed shoes that are making their debut in a gym. These people also often have a look of confusion or uncertainty as if they know why they are there, they just don’t know what to do while they are there.

So, if you are part of that second group here are two pieces of advice.

First, stay the hell away from me!

I’m just kidding, but you may well get that feeling from some gym regulars who have a set routine and don’t like it when someone, anyone, stops them working on the equipment they want when they want. Ignore them. You paid your entrance fee and have just as much right as they do to be there.

The first piece of advice is take it slow. If you are starting out for the first time, or restarting exercise after a long layoff you need to ease into it. Your muscles are not used to the kind of stress you are putting them under so they need to build up slowly.

Too many people make the mistake of starting out strong and hard and pushing themselves too much. The end result is very sore muscles for days afterwards and a quick end to that resolution.

Take it slowly. The idea is that you are going to be doing this for years to come (hopefully) so there’s no rush. Ease your body into exercise, and slowly build up. That means just doing 15 minutes on the treadmill the first day, and only using light weights. In time you can add more time, speed and weight to your workout. But there’s no hurry.

Think of this as a long-distance event not a sprint. So take your time.

The second piece of advice is learn good technique.

Too often I see people flailing away in a manner that seems destined to result in an injury. They’re on a stairmaster,  holding on with their hands twisted around backwards. All that’s going to do is injury your wrists.

Or they’re in the weight room lifting dumb bells that are too heavy for them. All that will do is result in pulled or strained muscles.

So, if you can afford it, get a lesson from a personal trainer. All you need is one hour and they can show you the proper technique for each exercise. Or you can get a group lesson, that’s even cheaper and you still get hands-on guidance.

If you can’t afford either then do what I do, be sneaky! Position yourself near a trainer and their client and watch what they are doing (you can pretend you are catching your breath after a particularly taxing activity). Learn the right technique by listening to the trainer and watching how the client does it.

Good technique is more than just a way of avoiding injury, it will also help you get the most out of your exercise routine, and help you lose weight and build up strength and stamina in the most efficient way.

Think of it like this. The better your technique the faster your body will start to show the changes you want.
If you follow those two simple pieces of advice you will have a better than even chance of still being part of that Monday crowd at the end of the year.

I look forward to seeing you then.

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