7 Truth’s about entering or re-entering the Fitness World
March 17, 2019
The Gym can be a scary place
The Gym. We’ve all been there, whether it’s a brand New Year and you are starting to make good on your resolutions. Or you’ve decided you need to become healthier and more active by committing to a lifestyle change. Whatever your reasoning at some point in your life you will inevitably join a Gym. Some of you may sign up, go a few times then never step foot in the place again, others may be more committed and in it for the long run. Whatever your reasoning, getting your buns back into the fitness world can be tough. The gym can be a scary place for newbies and even ex gym-goers.
Up until 2 years ago i was a gym bunny. You couldn’t get me out of the place. If marriage is anything like my commitment to the gym, i was living my best married life. I used to be in the gym a minimum of 6 times a week, whether that be weight training or doing a class. And my workout’s were by no means short. Sometimes i would even go in the gym after a class and just do a small work out to optimise the after burn.
At the time i was working 10-12 hour days and still managed to find time to eat, gym and sleep. I honestly don’t know how i found the time and stayed committed with the level of energy i had but somehow i did it. Fast forward 2 years and i’ve only just got my not so pert derriere back in the gym. Bun’s of steel don’t last forever kids, the glutes do eventually sink into more of a pancake shape through lack of exercise. Sad times.
Back to Square one
So here i was 2 years later and standing on the precipice of a cliff . And at the bottom of said cliff was the gym. Something that i used to know so well and it was frightening. I have less hours in the day than ever before and on top of that i was back to square one, starting my journey all over again.
And 2 years later my Muscles were practically non-existent and i’m not even sure i could remember what a Smith Machine was, let alone what exercises i used to smash in the metal jungle. It felt like i was a newbie all over again. And i’ll be honest, it takes a lot of courage and will power to make it into the Gym with no experience or knowledge of what to do when you make it through the door. So well done to all of you who have been in that position. It’s tough. Kudos!
I think for me, the worse thing was knowing that i had to start again from scratch. It’s not too bad when you’re new because you know it’s going to hurt and take a lot of hard work to turn you body into a lean, mean, gymming machine. In a way you are already prepared for the worst but you don’t know exactly what that is going to look or feel like until you go through it. When you’ve been there before, you already know what is coming. I could already feel the DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) and i hadn’t even even started yet. Ouch.
So what is it like to enter the Fitness world for the first time or re-enter it after a long break from the metal jungle? Here are 7 truths about entering or re-entering the fitness world:
You are going to feel like a fish out of water
Whether you are a ex gym goer or a Newbie, your first workout will be the hardest and it is going to feel incredibly weird. Not only are you are going to be working your muscles but forcing your body into positions that feel uncomfortable and alien to you. You will also find that you will be surrounded by people who are used to being in the gym and are comfortable with these sorts of exercises. Don’t fret that will be you too when you get into the swing of things.
The first thing to remember is that these exercises are foreign to your body. You are going to be working muscles that may not have been worked like this before or been used in a while.
You are going to have to learn to keep your form and balance through the entire exercise. Form is so important. It ensures you are working your muscles correctly and helps you avoid unnecessary injury. It is also the one thing that can leave you feeling like a bit of a twat. You will constantly be thinking am i doing this right or that it doesn’t feel right. And it’s not going too, it’s not supposed to right away. You are not going to have the perfect form the first couple of times. But just go with it, you will improve and it will become second nature. Forget about everyone else and just concentrate on what you are doing.
The same goes for Classes too. When you enter a class you are going to be joining a group of people who are regulars. They attend week in, week out and know the format of the class like the back of their hand. Whenever you start something new you are at a disadvantage. You have a shed load of learning ahead of you and it can be overwhelming. It may feel awkward the first few times but stick with it and it will come. If you are ever in doubt, ask your instructor they are there to guide you. If there is anything you aren’t happy with or think you’ve done incorrectly then always ask them at the end of the class. They will be happy to help especially as you are showing interest and a dedication in what they are teaching you.
Routine will be your toughest challenge
The most important thing for newbies and oldies alike is that routine is key. Setting yourself a routine and actually sticking with it, that is the first step to success. Now it won’t be easy to begin with but at least you’ll be starting out on the right foot. If you’re are new to the fitness world, then you won’t know what you like or what you can commit to until you give it a go. If you are re-acquainting yourself with the fitness world then you probably have an idea of what works for you and what you like. You may just feel a little rusty. Whatever your starting point…start small.
Set certain days per week that you will get yourself into the gym. Make sure you try to be consistent by choosing days and times that work for you and your schedule. Consistency is key. There is nothing worse than gearing yourself up to do an array of things only to find that you just can’t manage your routine every week.
Also don’t set yourself unrealistically long gym sessions. Having anywhere from a 30min – 60min work out is perfectly fine. Don’t overdo it. How long you workout can entirely depend on the muscle groups you are working and how long of a rest period you give yourself. It may also depend on the whether you have decided to attend a class. Spin Classes usually last 45 minutes but Bodypump may last 60 mins. Again it’s entirely down to personal preference and finding what works for you.
For example i don’t get home from work until around 7pm. My current routine means i go home, get changed, get into my car and i get on my way. I don’t sit down unless i’m putting on my trainers because GAME OVER! I do better when i am constantly moving. If i stop i tend to wind down and then i am about as useless as the G in Lasagne.
Personally i like to schedule classes into my routine. Tuesday’s, Thursday and Saturday’s i go to Spin Class. Monday’s and Wednesday’s (sometimes Sunday’s) i will get myself in the gym and alternate the muscle groups i am working. I also add a Body Pump Class straight after my Saturday Spin class. For me i like to mix things up a little bit, as i can get bored relatively easily and i like variety. Personally i love Spin Class, 45mins in my own personal hell but the feeling when you’re finished is amazing. I think it is so important to include HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) in your routine. Especially if your aim is Fat loss.
It is going to hurt but push through it
As i mentioned before, you are going to be forcing your body into positions that feel uncomfortable to you and working muscles that you’ve never worked before in this way. These muscles aren’t weak per se but they are not worked regularly enough so tend to go into shock. When we work out in the gym, the exercises we are doing are building those particular muscle groups.
The process of building muscle is an interesting one. When we we workout we create small tears in our muscle fibres. After your workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres. In this process these fibres fuse together to form new muscle strands which are then repaired by the body with stronger more flexible fibres. These repaired fibres increase in thickness and number to create muscle growth. This is how our muscles grow stronger and larger. Which in turn enables us to pick up even heavier weights and push through a more difficult workout.
Tearing your muscles sounds painful but at the time you don’t even realise you have done it. After your workout you may or may not feel a little tight which is totally normal. It’s the next day that the pain set’s in. I’m not sure you can even call it pain, its more like a stiffness and soreness that you can feel with every movement of your body. You will honestly feel things you have never felt before. Now it’s not unbearable, it’s just sore.
My first leg day in 2 years left me walking like John Wayne for a couple of days. This is what we call DOM’s. (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). For most people it tends to only lasts 2-3 days. The Bad news is that its day 2 (the 48 hour mark) that you really feel it. That being said if you get yourself back exercising as soon as possible it really can take the edge off. Yes its painful to push through the pain but its definitely worth the sacrifice.
Now just to be clear if you have DOM’s from Leg day, don’t go in the gym the next day and do legs. Thats only going to do more harm than good. Instead go in and maybe go for a fast walk or run on the treadmill to get your body working. Alternatively work out another muscle group such as Shoulders or Chest. The key is to continue moving. The more active you remain the quicker the DOM’s subside.
Its worth pointing that you aren’t going to get DOM’s everytime you go to the gym. It tends to happen the first couple of times you work that specific area. The other good news is as you get further into your gym journey the less you will get DOM’s. Yes you may feel a bit tight but you will never have the same experience as you did the first time. Unless of course you have an extended period away from the gym, then you should expect it to be a bit worse.
Weight Training will not make you bulky
When people find out you’re going to the gym and lifting weights, the comment that you hear time and time again is that lifting weights makes you bulky. Or that you could end up looking like the Hulk/She Hulk. Well i am here to tell you that is completely untrue. Strength training is not going to make you bulk up like a Body Builder on steroids. And it most certainly is not going to happen overnight.
Is it possible to bulk up? Yes it is, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to ever get to that stage. I’m talking years of consistent eating and training, EVERY single day. And for a woman it’s even more difficult. As a woman it is almost impossible to bulk up the way a man does because of the difference in our hormone profiles. Thats not to say its not doable.
Everyone’s body is different and reacts to weight training in a different way. There are some women out there that are incredibly muscular, like a feminine version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and those women are rare. The crux of it is, that we need alot of testorone in our bodies to become that muscular. Those women you see that look like that, they eat, train, and take supplements specifically to get that look/ And they have put in ALOT of hard work. It is also entirely dependant on how you train and what you are training for. Most people don’t train that hard or intense to gain that kind of size.
When you pick up and lift heavy weights your muscles get stronger not necessarily bigger. Muscle in fact takes up a lot less space than fat does. It also weighs more as it is much denser than fat but is much more compact. Believe it or not, by strengthening your muscles you can actually get smaller. Two women could both weigh 60kgs. One lifts weights, the other one doesn’t. Yet the women who lifts weights is 2 dress sizes smaller than the woman who doesn’t. Why? Because of our lean muscle mass. On top of this by increasing the amount of muscle on your body, will also increase your metabolism.
Muscle requires more energy and nutrients to sustain its own muscle tissue. So effectively it is one gigantic calorie burner. The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn without even moving. Nifty huh 🙂
Lifting Weight’s is super empowering and can raise your confidence levels through the roof. There is nothing more bad ass than a strong and powerful woman. You’ll also look great while doing it too.
You will push yourself further than you ever thought you were able
Once you are invested in the gym, i can honestly say that there is no going back. Whilst when you first start out the whole process is exhausting and can take a little getting used to. Once you get over those first couple of weeks you will find you are hooked. You will always be wanting more. Every time you step foot in the gym, you will constantly be comparing every session against sessions before it.
You could have done a leg session last week and squatted 50kgs, next time you’ve got a date with the squat rack you will find yourself increasing your load slightly. Maybe its only 55kg but i guarantee you will catch yourself doing it. Yes you may only be able to get 5 reps out of the 55kg weight but the sense of achievement and pride of doing those 5 reps is priceless. Each time you get into that zone you will want to do better than the last time to prove to yourself that you are making progress.
As humans we are competitive. It may be more deeply rooted in some of us than others but it’s there. We are never entirely happy with where we are at. We are always wanting to grow or be better. If we are not improving we feel like we are stalling.
Challenges move us forward in life, step by step. They improve our ability to rise up to a situation that presents itself. Which in turn allows us to prove to ourselves that we are capable of achieving our desired result. It also gives us a sense of control over our lives.
When we make ourselves do something “hard” and we finish it, we put a little notch in our belt of self-belief which translates into self-esteem. It solidify’s our belief that anything is possible. Pushing the boundaries of what you thought was possible and coming out the other side that little bit stronger will have a ripple effect. Your self-confidence will soar and it’ll overflow into everything you do.
You will see your best results in the first couple of weeks then you will plateau. Stick with it.
Once you’ve made it through the first month at the gym, you will start to notice the small benefits of your new fitness adventure. Maybe you feel healthier, stronger or your clothes are feeling a little less tight. Either way you’re likely to weigh or measure yourself to check on the progress you’ve made.
It will be in this first month that you will see some decent results. When increasing your activity levels, from very little to regular training, you can pretty much follow any training plan and reap the rewards. This period is also known as Newbie gains. This could be anything from a small increase in Muscle mass, reduction in body fat or a reduction in weight to name a few. The source of these gains comes primarily from your body responding to a new activity.
The more foreign an activity is, the more strength you’ll rapidly gain because your body learns how to use the muscle you already have to efficiently perform the movement. This will be your prime time where you feel a real sense of accomplishment. And so you should.
The hardest part is the months that follow after this. Once you’ve had your newbie gains, the results tend to slow or become a little more difficult to obtain. Any Future “gains” all of a sudden take a lot more work and time. You don’t notice much of a difference, maybe your weight stays the same or your clothes don’t feel any more roomy. You hit a plateau. This is the part of the process when people start to lose interest or become de-motivated because they no longer see results as quickly as they want.
This is the most crucial part of the process and the time when you really need to stick with it. The saddest thing you see is someone that has put so much hard work and dedication into getting to where they are and they give up because the results didn’t come. But they were literally on the verge of seeing real changes. If only they pushed through the disappointment and continued with their hard work, they really would have reaped the rewards.
So if your results start to slow down, don’t give up. It’s hard not to feel disappointed and jack it all in, i get it. But just stick with it, you will get there, you just have to see it through.
Your sleep will improve
Yep you heard me right, regular exercise can significantly improve your sleep patterns and quality of sleep. Sounds like its too good to be true? Thankfully it’s not. Studies suggest there is a direct link between exercise especially strength training and sleep. By including at least 30 mins of exercise in your daily routine it will help improve the overall quality of your sleep. Now this doesn’t just happen overnight, it can take a couple of months for your body to adjust to your increased activity. So don’t get dis-heartened if you don’t see the benefits immediately. Patience is a virtue.
Another plus is that Physical activity increases the time spent in deep sleep. This is the most physically restorative sleep phase and its a good thing to as our bodies need it after a round of exercise. As well as improving the quality of sleep, exercise also can help increase the length of time you sleep for. Being physically active requires you to expend energy. That exertion of energy actually helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day. So if you have trouble falling asleep, this is a bonus.
That being said when it comes to the timing of exercise, exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep. So thats one thing to watch out for, Working out too late in the day can leave you feeling energized and stimulated right before bed. The problem with being left in this state is that it can actually hinder your ability to get off to sleep. So always be mindful of exercising to close to bed. Make sure you have some extra time to actually wind down before bed time comes.
Fitness can be life changing
So there you have it 7 truths about entering or re-entering the world of Fitness. I hope you have found them useful. To all of you who are starting their journey’s, Well done. I can honestly say it really is a life changing thing to do and you won’t regret it.
Have you recently started your fitness journey or planning to the in the future? Let me know your experiences in the comments below 🙂