One of the most popular resolutions that people ( sometimes repeatedly ) make for the new year involves losing weight and/or becoming fit. Greg Bahnfleth, a training and education manager for Life Fitness Academy, gave Windy City Times a few tips to help people get started.
—Don't be a commitment-phobe: One of the most effective things is to be determined to stick with your plan. However, Bahnfleth also suggests holding the family accountable in order to help reach that goal. 'Friends and family who take you out to eat should know about your resolution. You must commit to get fit.'
—Don't be stationary: 'Get moving,' he says. 'Park farther away from the store. Try to ride a bike to work. Take the stairs instead of elevators. Subtle adjustments can help you meet your goal.'
—Go slow: 'People try to do too much too fast,' said Bahnfleth, citing the biggest mistake beginners make. 'They also feel they have to join a health club. You can work out at home. You also carry around one of the best weight machines around: your body. You can do step-ups on stairs as well as exercises like sit-ups and push-ups. You can also purchase in-home fitness equipment.'
—Pick a gym that's nearby: If you insist on getting a health club membership, it's probably best to find a gym that's close to your home or office. 'Just like choosing a home or place to eat, it's all about location, location, location.' Otherwise, people are less likely to work out. 'Other factors may [ include ] cost and service. Chicago is going through a big boom of smaller fitness facilities right now; they're more affordable but they may not provide the services. Also, don't just walk in and join; get a free workout and try out the place. And look at how you're treated—if they don't give you time before you're a member, they certainly won't give you time after you're one.'
—Be patient: If you think that you're going to look like Mr. or Ms. Universe by the end of the first week, forget it. 'It's not going to happen overnight,' according to Bahnfleth. 'You have to be persistent.'
—Remember that three is the magic number: Bahnfleth said that working out at least three times a week is good ( for 30 minutes each time ) . 'Even if you walk 30 minutes, you can reach a lot of your goals,' he said.
—Hit the cardio and weights: 'I would say to start up with 5-10 minutes of cardio,' he suggested. 'Then, I would strength-train and then go back to cardio. Some people get really fatigued with just cardio; with strength training, it's best to go in with as much energy as possible.'
—Stay out of the danger zone: Among the signs of overtraining are malaise ( not feeling well ) ; disrupted sleep patterns; muscle soreness that last more than a couple of days; sharp pain; bruising; swelling; and dizziness. Regarding cardio, Bahnfleth suggested doing a talk test. 'If you can't talk while doing cardio, you're probably working out too hard,' he said. 'If you can sing several songs from Guys and Dolls [ one of Bahnfleth's favorites ] , you're not working out hard enough.'
—Avoid trend shopping: With everything from Tae Bo to pole dancing available ( as classes, of course ) , how do you know which exercise trend to partake of? 'If [ a particular trend ] interests you, try it,' said Bahnfleth. 'However, if you're just starting out, I would say to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. Figure out the basics first before you throw yourself out there. Cardiovascular exercise is probably the easiest way to start; just about everyone can use a treadmill or recumbent bike.'
—Look for degrees: If you want to select a personal trainer, make sure that he or she is approved. Bahnfleth said to 'look for certifications and degrees. A degree in exercise science shows that someone has put in a lot of time to become as knowledgeable as they can be. Certifications from ACE, NSTA, ACSM and NASM are ideal.'
—Don't forget to fuel up: All of the exercise in the world won't help if you don't eat properly. Bahnfleth advised seeking a dietician or nutritionist to assist regarding everything from fat grams to vitamin supplements.
See www.LifeFitness.com .