If you are looking to make the step into joining a new fitness class or wanting to hire or work with a personal trainer then where on earth do you start?! Well, we are here to help to suggest some reasonable questions to ask yourself, and those around you before you leap into the fitness arena.
You can be well attuned to the world of fitness, or a brand new member looking to improve your health and wellbeing. Either way fitting exercise into your weekly routine can be a challenge, as well as being an overwhelming minefield of endless choices such as spinning, kickboxing, yoga, pilates, body blast and legs, bums and tums classes to name a few. I must agree that exercising in a group does improve your motivation and increase enjoyment; however, choosing the right group for you and your goals is paramount. You must look at this from a selfish point of view initially, where do you want to be in a few months’ time on the health and fitness scale, and who or what can help you get there?! Consider the following options to help make your choices a lot easier.
Take Your Time
Now I don’t mean take all year, or wait until after Christmas. But I do mean try before you buy. Most fitness centres and venues allow non-members to have guest passes or provide offers to try before you buy. This will allow you the opportunity to try a number of classes or sessions before you make a long-term commitment. You are putting your health and motivation triggers into the hands of another person; make sure it is right for you in terms of intensity, time of the week, accessibility and enjoy-ability. These factors can all make the difference between reaching your goals and missing the odd session or even dropping out because the class “doesn’t fit”.
What Motivates You
Don’t just turn up to any old class and expect it to be the one for you. Of course, if you’re driven and generally enjoy exercising I’m sure you will put your mind to any session. However, for a class that is sustainable, varied and long-lasting, you need to know what motivates you.
Even personal trainers are all different, let alone classes. You may find a drill sergeant in a boot camp setting really gets you fired up and blasting out the exercises. Or this could scare you half to death. You may prefer more one to one work with a personal trainer or a quieter environment of body strength and balance in a yoga class. Also consider the qualifications of the class leader or trainer, a fully qualified trainer can adapt to you and your needs, changing the exercises as you develop and progress. Your trainer or class should fit your motivation style and personality type. You will be putting a lot of hours into this particular class or trainer, so knowing what works well for you is important.
Where and When?
I know this sounds simple and obvious, but these two considerations will certainly play a key a role on those dark rainy evenings when you are trying to decide whether to leave your warm house or not. How close the class or the gym where your sessions are held will impact on your decisions to attend. If the location is not sustainable and convenient you may well find more excuses not to go. Can you get there before or after work? Building class or training sessions into a finely tuned work routine may well help you last the duration. Making huge de-tours even on weekends often lead people to falter as you may find more reasons or excuses not to attend a gym in that particular neck of the woods.
Ok, so we have considered the where and when. However, what exercise you will be doing is crucial. You may find that the slower paced strength and flexibility of yoga interests you. These sessions can be tough and a great workout, but still keep within calming environments and relaxed boundaries.
Aerobic classes are often to music to help people get pumped and motivated as they focus on higher tempos and higher heart rates. These include boxercise, body pump, HIIT sessions and so forth. If you feel you need that extra surge of energy and motivation then these classes are for you. You may also enjoy a strength training class or trainer that focuses on building up strength, muscle mass and burning fat. These classes often include TRX ropes, circuits and resistance machines. Finding the right balance of exercise is important to achieve your goals. My advice, however, is to vary your approach to exercise, finding a class that evolves, changes or even gets harder as the weeks go by. This helps keep your mind occupied as well as your body and helps prevents repetitive strain injury doing the same exercises week in week out.
Unfortunately, as with most things, we do have to consider cost. Of course, going for a run is relatively free, once you have purchased some good footwear, but they are a good investment! However ongoing classes and weekly contact with a trainer does come at a cost. But before you sign up to a membership be sure to check out the general facilities, do you want to spend time here? Is the equipment up to date, are the workout areas well ventilated, and can you see yourself having a shower and changing in this environment. These may be obvious considerations, but a top tip is that these same questions go for staff members too. If the facilities are a high specification, clean and appealing then this is also attractive to the right personal trainer and class leaders. They also do not want to be spending their time in a place that is substandard and without full opportunities to succeed with their clients.
Outdoor boot camps can be cheaper per week and may not require a long-term contract; however outdoor sessions are not something for everyone. Classes in community centres are often cheaper than larger chains and clubs, and again it is worthwhile checking the cost over long periods as some have reductions for mass bookings, which by the way, will also help with your motivation. You’ve paid for it, so you need to use it.
Keeping your classes varied and relatively inexpensive helps to make your commitment to your set goals stick. Of course, you cannot put a price on your own health and I fully understand that you will have family and work commitments too. But I am sure you work hard in these areas so you deserve to work hard on your health, pay for something you enjoy and get the best out of your personal experiences.