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How to Get Fit

 

So, you want to get fit, but you aren’t quite sure how to get started? Increasing your fitness is a great way to improve your overall health, but it can also facilitate you reaching certain physical and mental goals, including weight loss, building strength, increasing muscle mass, changing your body shape and supporting your mental health.

 

When you make the decision to get fit, there are a few points you need to consider. The first is your plan and how you get started. The second point is the most obvious; exercise. Exercise plays a huge part in helping you to improve your fitness. The third, is food. You need food to fuel your body and provide you with the energy you need to exercise and recover.

 

In this post, we break down these points and provide you with some advice, gained through our own experiences as fitness addicts and through the experiences of our clients in the fitness industry. We hope you find it valuable!

 

Part 1: Getting started

 

Start where you are

 

Making the decision to get fit is exciting, but you have to take your time. You won’t get anywhere by comparing yourself on your first day, to someone else who is much farther along in their fitness journey.

 

Another thing to recognise is that we all start with different fitness levels. If you have been sedentary your whole life, your foray into fitness might start a little slower than someone who has let themselves go in the past few months or years. So, start where you are. Don’t get caught up in the Instagram hype – focus on progress rather than perfection.

 

Put a plan in place

 

Here at The Fitness Associates, we are huge fans of planning your attack. And when you are beginning your fitness journey, this is the perfect time to put your planning skills to task. Follow these steps to increase your chances of success!

 

  • Know your why – What is the reason for this sudden interest in getting fit?
  • Set some goals – What are you hoping to achieve through your new fitness program?
  • Plan your actions – What steps will you need to take to achieve these goals?
  • Track your progress – How will you track and measure your achievements?
  • Use your support network – There’s no need to go it alone! Who will support you?
  • Celebrate success – When you achieve your goals, how will you celebrate?

 

Part 2: Exercise

 

You guessed it. Exercise is a core part of getting fit. There is no avoiding it. You need to embrace exercise and get used to it, because if you want to get fit, it is going to be part of your life. Now, we get it. Exercise doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you are one of those people that hates exercise, we are asking you to put your pre-conceived ideas aside for the moment and read on. We promise it will be worth it.

 

Incidental exercise

 

Just because you are going hard with your fitness program, it doesn’t mean you should slack off in your day-to-day life. Incidental exercise doesn’t sound sexy, and it is unlikely to make you break a sweat like your gym work-outs and aerobic training. But you know they say, every little bit counts. So, embrace your new lifestyle and take steps (literally) towards your fitness goals.

 

If you are completely new to fitness and the idea of pumping iron in the gym seems a little daunting, incidental exercise can be a great way to get started. It is all about building physical activity into your everyday routine. Use these ideas to get your body used to the idea of moving on a more frequent basis:

 

  • Park at the opposite end of the car park to the shopping centre and enjoy the extra walk;
  • If you catch public transport, get off one or two stops earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way;
  • If you live close enough to work, walk or cycle to work instead of driving (just don’t forget your umbrella in case it rains!);
  • Forget the lift or the escalator – take the stairs! Once you build up your fitness, you can start taking them two at a time;
  • If you work in an office, get a sit-stand desk and spend some of your day working while you stand up; or
  • Try stretching or doing some light yoga poses during the ad breaks when you are watching television.

 

These are just a few ideas. Get creative and look for more opportunities to exercise without trying!

 

Aerobic exercise

 

Whether you have fat to lose, or you are already toned, aerobic exercise is a great way to improve your fitness. The main aim of aerobic exercise is to get your heart rate up.  There are loads of benefits to aerobic exercise which include supporting your mental health, strengthening your muscles, tendons and ligaments, improving cardiovascular health, increasing your breathing efficiency and speeding up your metabolism.

 

One thing about aerobic exercise is that there is really something for everyone. If you are new to exercise or have doubts about whether aerobic exercise is for you, we encourage you to stick with it, try lots of different types of aerobic exercise and keep trying until you find something that you enjoy. Here are some ideas:

 

  • Walking, jogging or running, outdoors or on a treadmill;
  • Using other aerobic gym equipment such as the cross-trainer or rowing machine;
  • Skipping, roller skating, roller blading or skate-boarding;
  • Group aerobics or aqua-aerobics classes;
  • Boxing or martial arts;
  • Dancing;
  • Swimming;
  • Team sports such as football, netball, rugby or water polo; or
  • Flow or hot yoga.

 

Strength and resistance exercise

 

When you think of strength and resistance exercise, we bet your mind instantly goes to lifting weights in a gym. Whilst this is one type of strength and resistance exercise, there are also loads of other methods and like aerobic exercise, it is all about finding one that suits your preferences and lifestyle.

 

There are heaps of benefits to strength and resistance training, including protecting bone and muscle mass, increasing strength, preventing diseases and injuries, helping you to develop better body mechanics and balance, pain management, improved posture, increased stamina and weight management, just to name a few.

 

Here are a few different types of strength and resistance training to get you started:

 

  • Free weights – this is where you lift dumb-bells, bar-bells and weighted medicine balls, without any machinery;
  • Resistance bands – using large rubber bands with varying levels of resistance;
  • Weight machines – these are your more typical gym exercises where you lift varying amounts of weight that is moved through pulleys or hydraulics; or
  • Body weight – no equipment is required; resistance is provided by your own body weight, using different types of movements.

 

Personal training

 

If you are new to fitness, or you are looking to push yourself harder, you should consider engaging the services of a personal trainer. Personal trainers may use a mixture of aerobic, strength and resistance training to help you reach your goals.

 

We are huge advocates of personal training and strongly believe that if you are planning to work out in a gym environment, you should invest in at least a couple of personal training sessions, to ensure that you are using the equipment correctly. There are, however, other benefits of personal training. Here are a few benefits you should consider when deciding whether to hire a personal trainer:

 

  • A personal trainer will challenge you and push you towards your goals;
  • Your trainer will support you and provide encouragement when times are tough;
  • You will always know that you are performing your exercises with accurate and safe technique when working with a trainer; and
  • Working with a trainer can help you get results a lot faster than if you are going it alone.

 

Injuries

 

Whether you choose aerobic or strength and resistance training, you are working with a personal trainer, or on your own, you may experience injuries. Even if you train in a safe and appropriate manner. We know it can be frustrating to put your fitness program on hold, but we just want to assure you to listen to your body and know when to take a break. If in doubt, visit your local doctor and ask what type of training (if any) you can continue with while you are injured.

 

Part 3: Food

 

Are you wondering what food has to do with getting fit? Food is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle and if you are truly committed to your fitness goals, then you need to look at your eating habits.

 

Like exercise, with food, there is no one size fits all option. In fact, your own personal fitness goals will guide the eating plan that is right for you.

 

Nutrition experts

 

If you are serious about your fitness goals, we encourage you to consider seeking out a dietitian or nutritionist to help you put together a meal plan that will support your needs. Some personal trainers are able to provide you with nutritional advice, but we think it is worth you bringing a nutrition expert into your team, to make sure you have the support you will need throughout your fitness journey.

 

As your body changes and your fitness improves, it is likely that your nutritional needs will change as well. It is a good idea to track your food intake wherever possible, so that you have up-to-date information that you can provide to your nutritionist at any time. Check out the My Fitness Pal app, which is available on Android and iTunes; it allows you to track your macro and micro-nutrients and is not only free, but is super easy to use.

 

Learn about nutrition

 

Although we believe you should work with a nutrition expert, we also encourage you to do your own research and learn about nutrition, so that you understand how you are fuelling your body. There are a few key things you need to know about when working on a nutrition plan to support your fitness journey. We have included a little bit of an introduction in this post, but as we mentioned, do your own research so that you know what you are putting into your body and how it is affecting you.

 

Macro-nutrients

Macro-nutrients are carbohydrates, fat and protein. Each of these play an important part in your diet and we would suggest that you steer clear of restrictive diets that make you limit your intake of one or more of these food groups. Here is a quick breakdown:

 

  • Carbohydrates – carbohydrates are made up of starch, fibre and sugar, and provide you with energy. In recent years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Instead, focus on including more complex carbohydrates (fruit, veggies, wholegrains and nuts) into your diet and less simple carbohydrates (sugar, processed foods, sweets and fruit juices).
  • Protein – your body needs protein to build muscle mass. The great news is that there are lots of different foods that contain protein, that are easy to integrate into your diet. These include meat, seafood, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans and soy products. Protein powder is another popular option, particularly post-workout.
  • Fat – like carbohydrates, fat has copped a lot of flak, which is a shame, because your body needs it for energy and cell growth. Fat is quite a controversial subject, so we don’t want to say too much about it; you are best to speak to your nutritionist to get tailored advice for your situation. Some great sources of fat include avocados, dairy, nuts, seeds, olives, fish, tofu and eggs.

 

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals and are sourced from the food you eat, though in smaller amounts than macronutrients. There are lots of different kinds of micronutrients and it is important for you to find a good balance for your body. Ideally you will get most of your micronutrients through your food, though sometimes your nutrition expert or medical professional might suggest you take supplements to assist your body in gaining and absorbing the micronutrients it needs.

 

Some of the micronutrients you might hear about in relation to your fitness program include:

  • magnesium – good for cardiovascular health and can help post-workout recovery;
  • manganese – promotes bone formation, energy production and metabolism;
  • iron – helps your body produce red blood cells and maintain healthy immune function;
  • calcium – helps with blood clotting and building healthy bones; and
  • zinc – promotes healthy skin, reproductive and immune function.

 

Hydration

 

Your body needs water. It helps to regulate your body temperature, lubricate your joints and helps to transport nutrients to keep you and your body healthy. When you exercise, you sweat, which means you are losing more fluid than you do when you are sedentary. For this reason, it is imperative that you increase your water intake before, during and after exercise. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and heart palpitations.

 

Although water is preferable, if you don’t like the taste of it, you could try adding a little bit of lemon or lime to your glass to make it a bit more palatable. Coconut water is another great alternative as it is full of electrolytes, which help your body hydrate faster.

 

So, there you have it. Our guide to getting fit, even if you have never exercised before. If this article has inspired you to improve your fitness and health, make sure you let us know! We would love to share your story on the blog

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