10 things to know before you join a gym
Personal trainer and former professional footballer Brian Cash spills his tips.
Joining a gym can be a pretty daunting experience.
From what to eat before you workout to what to include in your training session, knowing where to start and what to do can be overwhelming.
Personal trainer and former professional footballer Brian Cash from Dublin Fit Club told Independent.ie the 10 things everyone should know before they sign up.
Here’s how to get going and make the most of your membership:
Talk to a trainer before you start
“I would recommend that anyone starting off in the gym seek out a trainer and speak with them first. They will be able to speak with you about your aims and goals and arrange training appropriately. They will also do a health screening on you so if you have any past history of injury, your training will have to be adjusted accordingly.”
Don’t set deadlines
“You shouldn't set yourself deadlines to get in shape. If you have the mentality of, ‘I am going to train for the next four weeks before I go on holidays,’ then you are getting into the mindset of short term fixes. You should be incorporating exercise into your lifestyle on a long term and constant basis,” says Brian.
“This doesn't have to be loading yourself with daily, gruelling gym sessions; swimming, walking and playing golf are all good forms of exercise. Once you have developed these habits, if you have something special coming up you don't have to ‘cram’ your workouts. Instead you can give yourself 4-6 weeks before that holiday or special occasion to maybe increase your training volume or to change your training routine.”
Set your own goals
“Three training sessions per week coupled with an active daily lifestyle should be ample enough. However, if you have specific goals, for example training for a triathlon, this would increase accordingly.”
What to eat before and after your session
To fuel up before your session, Brian says: “It depends on the aims and goals of the person, but if you have a balanced meal of protein, carbs and fats you'll be well prepared. For example: Lean turkey, green veg and salad. Very simple. If you feel you are lacking some energy when you are training then add in some slow releasing carbs like sweet potatoes or wholegrain rice. Aim to eat 60-90 minutes before your session. If you are a coffee drinker then a hit of caffeine 30-40 minutes before your session can give you more energy.”
After your workout, carbohydrates are your friend, says Brian: “A healthy balanced meal of protein, carbs and fat will be perfect post training. After a particularly tough training session you could increase carbohydrate intake."
Keep active outside the gym too
“You don't have to be killing the gym every day to keep healthy and active. Walk or cycle to work instead of driving, walk the kids to the grocery shop instead of driving, use the stairs instead of the lift, go swimming with your children instead of the cinema, take in some nature walks on the weekend. There are numerous ways to stay active without having to hit the gym five days a week.”
Have a varied training routine
Brian advises incorporating each of these four modalities into your training sessions:
1 - Mobility/flexibility - yoga/stretching
2 - Resistance training - Lifting weights/kettlebells
3 - Interval training - HIIT work
4 - Aerobic training - walking/swimming
Going on holidays doesn’t mean throwing everything out the window
“You can definitely have a great time on your holidays and still keep your lifestyle and fitness goals on track. Exercise-wise, find a hotel that has a gym and set yourself 20-30 minutes per day to get a training session in. Alternatively, go on walks exploring your surroundings, swim, rent a bike for the day - all these will help.”
“Nutrition-wise, first off I would say you are on your holidays so enjoy yourself. But if you have been extra indulgent at lunch, make sure to follow it up with a healthy and nutritious meal later in the day. If you overdo it on the sangria the night before make sure to hydrate yourself well the next day and reduce alcohol intake to just dinner.”
Don’t be afraid of lifting weights
Many women don't lift weights in fear of getting "bulky." However, Brian says: “There are lots of benefits to lifting weights for females, and none of them include getting too 'bulky.'"
- Improved body composition and metabolic rate
- Post weight training session your body is burning calories for a more prolonged period than going for a 20 minute jog. More calories burnt at rest leads to improved body composition
- The more muscle in your body the more efficient your body is at burning calories leading to increased body composition
- Improved strength and fitness levels
- Better bone health
- Offset the risk of osteoporosis
Treat yourself regularly
"Instead of a cheat day I would recommend smaller and more regular treats during the week. This will offset the 'all or nothing' mentality that is very common with people."
Link nutrition and exercise
"There is a saying: 'Abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym,' which relates to the fact that a healthy lifestyle is linked 80pc to nutrition and diet and 20pc to training and exercise. This is true to improve your health. The first thing I would recommend addressing would be your nutrition/diet. Once you have got that sorted, then it's time to look at improving your activity level."
"However, for long term health, happiness and prosperity I don't think you can have one without the other. Once you find a way to coupling them both together then you are on the right path to long term health and happiness."