Most of us have been at day one. The day we decide that we’d like to get stronger, leaner, maybe make new friends. We have taken the decision to start some kind of exercise programme to hit these goals and fill our lives with healthier habits.
But where do you start? How do you find the right activity for your fitness level?
Immediately your brain thinks “gym”, but wait; I hate the idea of the gym. That’s it I won’t bother I’m not fit enough anyway – but isn’t that why I need to go to the gym?
So many conflicting messages your brain is putting out about now.
The gym isn’t going to work for everyone. Same as the keto diet isn’t going to work for everyone. Playsuits don’t work for everyone – I look like a blancmange.
There are more ways to hit the goals listed above (and all the others!) without stepping foot in the gym to start. What you need to do first of all is find something you ENJOY. If you dread every workout it won’t be at all sustainable.
Hate running? DON’T RUN! Love netball? Join a club! There’s more than one path from the start of your journey to the end, you just have to pick the right one for you. Exercise, movement and health has to be enjoyable to be sustainable – if you start with this mind-set; trust me, you won’t go far wrong.
Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start…
Beginner – LEVEL 1 – ZERO fitness
Starting at the beginning. With no fitness, couch to 5k, couch to couch even! Let’s take that first step towards getting to the end.
The complete novice is usually quite nervous to try anything new which can hold them back more, leading to less certainty. Anxiety even. To abate your initial concerns and answer some questions I have a few ideas:
Walking is HIGHLY underrated. It is classed as L.I.S.S training which is great for fat burning and is usually something which is easily accessible for most people. L.I.S.S stands for Low Intensity Steady State meaning you perform the exercise at a low to moderate heart rate for an extended period of time. The person performing the L.I.S.S training feels accomplished and doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the movement – encouraging them to go back for more.
Other examples of L.I.S.S could be:
- Chair based work – light resistance
Any form of cardiovascular exercise which places a low to moderate load on your heart rate will be a great starting point. Its achievable and you can do as much or as little as your schedule allows. Best of all, aside from a good pair of trainers – you don’t need to spend a lot of money to reap the rewards.
Beginner – LEVEL 2 – smashed this walking lark, let’s try something new!
So you’ve walked. You’ve step counted. You’ve L.I.S.S.ed your way through a few weeks and feeling good. Your body doesn’t LOOK like its changed, but you FEEL a little more confident, maybe a little more adventurous and ready for a change.
You would benefit here from re-igniting an old passion or listing a few ideas and picking a couple to try. Don’t worry if you go into a spinning class and hate every second, just don’t go back, at least you tried it and know its not for you.
If you used to love football as a child try and find a few local clubs and get in touch. We have our own at the centres with sessions for all ages try PRIORY CELTIC north of the borough or ATTENBOROUGH COLTS for south Broxtowe. Re-igniting a childhood or past love for a sport is sometimes a good way to get active without it feeling like a chore or exercise.
Ideas for new things to try for level 2:
- Yoga or Pilates
- Badminton (you will need to rope a friend in for this too!)
- Park run – but you can walk it too!!
- Sports (football/netball/cricket for example)
- Low impact circuits
Intermediate – LEVEL 3 – lets work on fitness
You are probably a few months into your new regieme or perhaps you already have a good base level of fitness, but you’re looking for a new challenge. Perhaps you have a new goal in mind. A wedding perhaps? Or a holiday?
At this point you are ready to start training. Exercise is already part of your life. You have a routine and are looking to start working out in a more focussed way. Here’s where the gym might enter your thoughts – see I bet you thought the gym would turn up at the very beginning!
Ideas for finding the right activity for your fitness at level 3:
- Gym – with a basic programme from a fitness instructor or personal trainer to help you wont go far wrong. Plus you wont injure yourself either. Our teams at the leisure centres offer FREE programmes as part of your membership. Use them!
- Join a club. Broxtowe triathlon club for example host running, swim and cycling sessions. Get involved here for some top notch coaching and support from those in the club. Everyone welcome.
- Try a home workout. Les mills offer fitness on demand if the gym isn’t for you. You might need some equipment, but it can be done from your living room.
- Free workouts on YouTube
- Aqua Aerobics
- Swimming lessons. Yes, we do swimming lessons for adults too. If you’ve never been able to swim, or just lack the confidence, allow us to support and help you to try something new and challenge your body and mind in a different way.
Advanced – LEVEL 4 – expert!
I would probably put myself in this category. This by no means implies that I am any sort of super-fit-healthy-lean-muscly-goddess-with-the-perfect-body at all.
It simply means I consider myself to be at the stage where I know what I want from my training (mostly) and I know how to get there. I just need to keep up the momentum up and keep off the cakes. Except carrot cake obviously as that has vegetables in it.
I am a runner. Not a “jogger” or an “athlete”. A runner. Pure and simple. My goal(s) consist of running ultra-marathons, getting faster, going further and getting in shape.
Therefore, most of my training is geared towards leg muscle and power – with low impact cardio on my days off (walking the dog, swimming for example). I train upper body in the gym to help with my “getting in shape” part of my goal.
Here we try and think outside the box, but at this point I would suggest more of the following
- STRETCH – we athletes like to think stretching is a waste of time. Its not. It aids recovery and prevents injury. Note to self: DO MORE OF THIS.
- Don’t neglect the diet. Just because your training is burning 1000 calories doesn’t mean you can then go and replace it with 1000calories of pizza. Eat the right food. Your body is a temple after all
- Drink enough water. More training means a greater need for the wet stuff. 2l might not cut it if you’re really active.
- Plyometric training
- Sports specific
- Get advice from personal trainers/gym instructors on progressing exercises.
- Don’t ignore injuries – treat them and rest
- Get enough sleep
- HIIT and LISS – LISS is great for begineers and advanced alike.
- Help others. You KNOW how to train, maybe inspire someone you know to join you on a walk, a game of badminton or a spin class. Pay it forward and use your motivation on others – it’s infectious!
Hopefully we have now gone some way to find the right activity for your fitness level.
Whatever stage you think you are at in this strange and confusing place that is health, remember to look after the mental and physical. After all, relapse is normal and life throws up challenges along the way.
If, like me, you find yourself at the advanced stage and then have a baby, don’t expect to jump right back in at the same stage. We all move through all of these stages at different points in our life. Be kind to those just starting and use the athletes to inspire and motivate.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to start. We have all been there at the beginning, some of us more than once.
Now – go lace up those trainers and go for a walk! Unless its raining, in which case go grab some healthy carrot cake 😉 burn it off tomorrow.