If you’re looking to start exercising but are totally clueless on where to begin, this is the guide for you. Many of us novice exercisers are nervous to start a new program, but there is no need to worry. The following article was written with you in mind. Hopefully with my suggestions, you will make a smooth transition into the workout world and be on your way to better health.
I still think of “workout clothes” as those brightly colored spandex suits that aerobics instructors in the 80s and early 90s would wear. Let me tell you: there is NO NEED to invest in expensive workout clothes. What works for me is an old t-shirt and some sweatpants. When it’s hot outside, I wear men’s cotton shorts that I got at Wal-mart for $5 a piece. No one cares what you look like when you’re working out… unless you’re wearing something that reveals a little more than you should.
What I do recommend investing in are a good sports bra (if you’re a female… and maybe if you’re a male, depending) and running/walking shoes. These two things are important if you ever plan to gain endurance.
When shopping for a sports bra, do some research. Look on forums and check out what works for women with your same body type. For example: I am what you call “gifted” in the chest area; a regular sports bra that Target sells won’t do it for me. I did some research and found a company called Enell makes sports bras for women with larger chests. After reading some reviews, I decided to get one of my own. It was worth every penny.
When testing a sports bra, try several sizes. You don’t want it to be too loose. After you have it on, do a few jumping jacks, bend over, just generally get in “workout” positions. If you don’t flop out or around, you have a winner.
When shopping for shoes, it is best to get what fits you. Feet are a lot different than boobs. Obviously. But what works for one person’s feet might not work for yours. Try on several different pairs and walk around the store with them. Notice how they fit on your feet. Walk side to side, jog in place. Do they offer support? Do they squeeze your toes? You’ll know when you found the right fit. Don’t just buy a pair because they “look cool.” You’ll be sorry later.
What not to wear:
Jeans – I don’t care how comfy your favorite jeans are, these are NEVER appropriate for working out. If you’re casually walking with a friend or your dog, that’s one thing, but if you plan on jogging for 3 miles, look elsewhere.
Flip-flops – These offer no support whatsoever and I can guarantee you that your dogs will be barking later on. If you plan on doing sports on the beach, it’s better to go barefoot.
Tube tops or anything strapless – you’re looking for support and comfort. Wearing a sports bra with a tube top just looks weird. You’ll be uncomfortable and you won’t be able to concentrate on your workout if you’re constantly worrying about exposing yourself.
I don’t know about you, but my first glimpse into the world of exercise was my mom’s Susan Powter VHS tape. I remember this really loud, skinny woman with short hair yelling at me to stop the insanity and do all sorts of things with my legs and arms. There were also other skinny women in the background, smiling while doing these moves that were killing my chubby little 8 year old muscles.
If you’re going to start working out, exercise tapes are the way to go. I wouldn’t recommend going with someone as intense as Susan Powter, but getting a tape clearly labeled “beginner’s” would suffice. There are many workout DVDs available at your pick of major retail chains, Amazon.com, and other etailers.
Additionally, one of the best and easiest methods of exercising is walking. Humans were made to walk for great distances; after all, that was our only mode of transportation for thousands of years. You want to start walking at a brisk pace, about two steps per second. You should be breathing hard and working up a sweat.
Once you feel as though you’ve built up enough endurance from walking, try jogging for a bit. Try jogging for as long as you can. When you feel you can’t do anymore, start walking again to catch your breath. DO NOT stop in the middle of your workout unless you feel light-headed or generally weird all over. Once you’ve caught your breath, try jogging again. Do this off and on until you’ve reached the end of your destination. This can help build up your endurance so you can go jogging for longer. Here’s where a good pair of shoes comes in handy.
-At the Gym-
If you happen to join a gym and don’t know where to start, here’s a list of the most-frequently used machines and how you can begin training on them.
Starting off on a treadmill is a great idea if you’re just getting used to the idea of working out. Like I said before, walking is great exercise and helps build up your endurance. Starting off on the treadmill is easy.
1) Place your feet on either side of the belt. DO NOT stand directly on the belt. If you do, when the belt starts to move, you could lose your balance and injure yourself. Clip the “stop” button on your waistband in case something happens and you lose your balance.
2) Follow the instructions on the screen. I would suggest starting with the Manual setting. This way, if you don’t feel challenged, you can always crank up the level.
3) Start off at about a 2.0 walking speed and a 3.5 incline. Once you get the hang of it, crank the speed up to 2.5. You should be walking at two steps per second.
4) Try to avoid holding onto the handles. This will make your workout less effective as most of your weight is supported by your hands. Swing your arms from side to side. This will also help to keep your heartrate up.
5) If you want a bigger challenge, you can either bump up the speed, bump up the incline, or both. I personally would rather do a steady speed at a larger incline; I feel shaky on treadmills and am always afraid of running on them. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Elliptical machines are my machine of choice. They offer a great low-impact workout that’s challenging and effective. Most beginners will find themselves really working hard on an elliptical. Here’s how to get get an effective workout from one.
1) Step on the pedals of the elliptical machine one foot at a time. Hold onto the handlebars for support. It’s really easy to lose your balance on one of these machines if you don’t have the proper footing.
2) Start pedaling. The screen should tell you what to do next.
3) As with the treadmill, I recommend starting with the Manual setting. Ellipticals are often harder to work than treadmills, so be prepared to start sweating.
4) Push down on the pedals with your feet. You can either grab onto the handlebars and work your arms, or grab onto the handles in front if you don’t feel comfortable with the swinging ones. REMEMBER: do NOT lean all of your weight on the bars. Stand up straight. if you feel yourself slumping, immediately straighten your back out.
I don’t see many people on stair stepper machines anymore. I personally don’t like them but to each their own. There are two types of steppers that I’ve seen at gyms: the manual one (where you work the pedals with your legs) and the automatic ones (that look like escalators). Here’s how to begin working out on one of these machines.
1) For manual machines, start by lifting your legs up and down to move the pedals. The screen should tell you what to do next. On the automatic machines, press enter and follow the instructions.
2) On manual machines, the longer your stride is, the more muscles you work in your legs. For a better muscle workout on the automatic machines, try stepping every other step.
3) Be sure to hold onto the rails for support, but remember to balance your weight to your back for the most effective workout.
Stationary Bicycles/Recumbant Bicycles
I’m a bigger fan of the recumbant bicycles because the seat can support my big behind. Try both to see which one is comfortable to you.
1) Sit on your bicycle of choice and start pedaling. Adjust the seat if necessary. Follow the instructions on the screen.
2) Start out at a level that you feel comfortable with. You should be able to pedal with some resistance and work up a sweat quickly. Just sitting there, watching TV and mindlessly pedaling is NOT working out.
3) If you feel like it’s too easy, crank up the resistance. The higher the resistance, the more muscles you’re working and the more effective the calorie burn.
4) For a bigger challenge, try standing up on the stationary cycle and pedaling that way.
This is just a sampling of the methods you can try in order to begin working out for better health. Remember that working out and eating healthy foods are the two best ways to lose weight and get more energy. As always, you should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet program. Good luck!