15 Oct The top 5 decisions to make before you start exercising
The most important decision you can make in your life, is how fit, healthy and strong you want to be. For some people (like me), it has been instilled since childhood. But for a lot of people, it can be a struggle – but it is a fight always worth winning. So if you have decided you are going to start exercising (for the first time or to pick up where you left off), ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are your short and long term goal?
Whether you want to lose weight to fit back into those jeans, build up your strength to prevent injuries, to have more energy for a big trip or just to gain some confidence, everyone has their own personal reason for exercising.
The important thing is to have a goal – this gives you something to aim for. Write it down and don’t forget it. Have both short term goals (such as three months) and long term goals (say 12 months). When you achieve your goals, make sure you set yourself new ones to aim for.
With any goal, apply the SMART principle – it should be Specific, Measurable so you can track your progress, it should be Achievable (make sure it is realistic), it should be Relevant and finally it should be Time bound.
2. Be aware of your physical and mental limitations
Almost everyone I train is carrying some form of injury or medical condition. So it is important to know what you can or can’t do. Make sure you are aware of your limitations as the last thing you want to do is to make an existing injury worse. If there are any concerns at all, make sure you see a doctor to ensure you have the all clear.
Injuries don’t have to be physical, many people have mental issues to. Again you need to be aware of this and how it could affect your training. It may be tough, so this is when I would suggest using a personal trainer as they can tailor a program which is going to suit you and give you that extra motivation to stick to your training. The upside is if you exercise regularly, this can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
3. How are you going to achieve your goal?
This often comes down to your experience, commitment and motivation.
If you feel you have the form and knowledge to exercise safely and you are motivated enough to start and not to stop, then give it a go on your own. This is often ideal for those people who have exercised regularly in the past and want to start again and are highly motivated to maintain an exercise routine.
But I find a lot of people wanting to start again, need a bit of a helping hand. Or they may not be sure if they are doing the moves right and need a bit of a push to at least get them started. Again this when a personal trainer may be the best option.
4. Where and when do you want to train?
So do you want to exercise at a gym, in your home or in the great outdoors? All these options have their pros and cons.
With a gym, you have access to classes, equipment and machines plus you can exercise rain hail or shine – but of course you have those gym membership fees to pay. Having trained in gyms for 20 years, I have seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly so read my blog on how to choose the best gym to suit your needs.
I love training outdoors, especially if you are stuck in an office all day. Of course you are at the mercy of the weather (heat, rain, wind or cold) but I believe the advantages greatly outweigh the disadvantages. Read my blog on some of the benefits to training outside.
The next question is how often are you going to commit to training? Once a week really isn’t enough – I would suggest three to four times a week. Ideally you want to make exercising like brushing your teeth or taking a shower – it is built into your routine, it is almost embedded in your DNA.
And finally what time of the day – first thing in the morning before work, around lunch time or after work. Again it comes down to what best suits you – the important thing is to make the time.
5. What is your budget?
Then it comes down to money – how much, if anything, do you want to spend?
If you don’t want to spend a dime, you can always train by yourself or with a friend in a park or at home. There are so many walks you can do around Sydney too which won’t cost you anything either.
If you are looking at joining a gym or using a personal trainer, then you have to work out how much you are prepared to spend each week or month. I have always said you get what you pay for – there are many cheap PTs out there but they are often cheap for a reason. Also less expensive gyms often mean less facilities and a lower level of personal service. Think carefully about your budget as this is an investment in the most important thing you will ever own (your body), so make sure you are getting the best return on your money.