I just wanted to get this out there. After two weeks at the gym, I’m starting to settle in and get comfortable. Here are my current impressions:
- I work harder at a gym. I don’t know if it is pride, excitement or what. I end up with shaky muscles at the end of every workout.
- I work less. See number one. Two days a week are plenty. After the first round of the smith machine, I couldn’t walk for two days. While it is building on what I started at home, my legs are starting to look like my arms.
- I’m still finding things out. It is hard to just go explore. There are always people there, and they are strangers, so I am a bit uncomfortable with just playing. I just found out, after seeing someone else use it, that there is a piece of equipment perfect for doing I’s,Y’s, T’s and W’s. I might even use some of the machines. Maybe.
- I have worked up the nerve to do some crazier stuff. There are foot pegs on some of the weight benches, just the right height for hooking my feet under to do hamstring curls.
- It is still strange to do things that would be embarrassing in other circumstances. I don’t make eye contact with people too often, and they ignore you too. Or if they do watch you, they are surreptitious about it, which is fine by me. You can laugh at me, as long as I don’t know it.
- I’m still in no-woman’s-land. While there are women at the weights, we are still outnumbered, something like 8 to 1.
- I don’t know how someone who is not exercise savvy would join this particular gym and get anything out of it if they didn’t get help from a trainer. Just having the equipment there, without direction, would be very daunting and uncomfortable.
So that’s the state of things now. I will keep updating this as I go.
I will write what I intended to, but here is a blog post I just had to link to. It is a list of top trainers favorite exercises. You’ll see a pattern. Which is a segue into what I intended to write.
There are a lot of exercise options out there. Exercise does not have to complicated. You want to work all your major muscle groups, you want to sweat, you don’t want to get hurt. You will want variety over time, for both the boredom factor, and to avoid adaptation. If you do the same thing every time, you will get very good at it, so get less “bang for your buck”. Efficiency is not good for exercise. All of the exercises in the top picks linked above are full body exercises. Squats, presses, “ups”- chin ups and pull ups, and dead lifts.
So here is some more basic information for you, you can research these on the web or get books:
- Learn your body parts. You will hear words like “glutes, hammies, lats, and delts. Those are slangy abbreviations of muscle groups. When you exercise, you should know what muscle group you are targeting, and if you don’t feel it there, chances are you are not doing it right. I recommend “The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises.” Or, if you are a guy, “The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises”. They are the same book with different pictures. “New Rules of Lifting” is a good book as well.
- Learn the names of exercises. While exercise doesn’t have to be complicated, there are a lot of them out there. If you don’t know what the exercises are that I mentioned above, look it up. Again the web has TONS of info. Go to you tube to see people do them. The books I mentioned above are good resources too.
- Don’t be afraid of the mirror. Good form is extremely important to exercise. Having a mirror where you exercise is very helpful. Is your back straight? Are your feet in proper position? You can get hurt if you don’t perform an exercise properly.
- Don’t feel you have to buy a lot of equipment. Especially don’t buy equipment to only works one body part. I would recommend 5 and 10 lb dumbbells to start (for girls). I would get a variety of stretchy bands. A swiss ball, also called a stability ball. Something to pull up on. You could get in shape with those to start. After that, there are a lot of goodies to amp things up. Barbells, Bow-flex or Total Gym. Exercise bikes, treadmills or elliptical machines. Free weights beat machines as you have to stabilize them, using more muscles.
You can do all you need to do at home. Joining a gym offers motivation, community and more equipment. Training at home has no travel time, your equipment is always available, and no one sees you exercise. I would recommend a personal trainer to start, unless you are very motivated and have done your homework. If you can’t afford a trainer, please do your homework and read everything you can get your hands on.