Don't join a gym until you have read this

Emma White - Nutritionist | 07 Jan, 2014

At this time of year, there's a familiar treadmill of expensive behaviour that can be avoided if you take a moment to establish exactly what YOU need to do for YOU to achieve YOUR exercise and weight loss goals.

Ask yourself if this sounds familiar:

January comes – a new year, new start – and gym membership is the tool you feel is essential to your success. You sign up, hand over your money and then go for it, everyday for a week. Maybe 3 weeks. Perhaps a month. Two months even.

Then we get bored of the same routine, or injured from overzealous exercising (because we've pushed ourselves too hard and not considered previous injuries). Or we fall off the wagon because our schedules don't fit the classes we want to go to. The end result? A very expensive occasional workout and deflated self-confidence about our willpower to stick at anything.

So, before you repeat the same annual ritual the question to consider is this: is a gym is the right option for you?

It may surprise you to hear that you really don't need to go to a gym to lose weight – this is important to realise! People always ask me what is the best exercise to lose weight – the answer is any activity that you do consistently. And when we enjoy doing something, it isn't a battle to keep it going.

The secret to cracking the exercise habit is to find something you look forward to doing so it isn't a chore – and the gym isn't always the best choice. Tap dancing or adult ballet classes are both ways to get exercising – and a completely different experience to the gym.

Gym treadmill

My Do's and Don'ts when starting your exercise regime

  • Don't rush into joining a gym. Many offer free trials – see how you get one first and 'try before you buy' before getting hooked into a 12 month contract that often also requires a 3 month cancellation policy
  • Do join a few local classes you like the sound of and see what suits.
  • Do invest in some good footwear / clothing / bra – if you feel comfortable you will 'perform' better.
  • Do go with a friend – get a 'work out' (or walking) buddy.
  • Don't promise yourself you will go 5 days a week -be realistic. Start by aiming for 2 times and build up.
  • Do set the time in your diary like an appointment – make it non-negotiable so you can't reduce its priority on your list!
  • Do get specialist advice before you start if you have an injury (REP's registered trainer or sports massage therapist).
  • Don't be afraid to get niggles / pain / previous injuries assessed / treated / massaged as investing in your body proactively will save you time and money!
  • Do set yourself a specific goal – e.g. inch loss / fat loss / clothes sizes / event (sports or otherwise).

So my best advice for you this January?

Find the thing you love. Think about exercise you've liked doing in the past. It could be playing a sport at school like hockey or netball. Find out if there is a local team who play for enjoyment you could join.

Think about something you've always quite fancied having a go at – trampolining, horseriding, ballroom dancing, ice skating, kick boxing, fencing, playing golf, bowling...the list is endless! You might find you don't like. On the other hand you might just find you love it – better still, you're actually pretty good at it! Which makes getting fit far more enjoyable and likely you'll want to stick with it.

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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