If you’re about to embark on a new fitness journey, you may be wondering what kind of advice you would receive from a personal trainer or coach. Now, we would hate for you to miss out, so we have decided to share some important lessons learnt along the way. The Happy Way founders Ben and Hien began their careers as personal trainers after all. So, while we can’t keep an eye on your form and tell you to drop and do ten, what we can do is offer you the kind of mindset and preparation that will make a difference between tipping your toes in the water and a lifelong commitment to living a healthier life. Because fitness is not about comparing yourself to others and proving your worth on Instagram, it’s about becoming the best version of yourself possible. It’s about being strong, powerful and having the kind of energy you truly deserve. So take note.
The ten tips personal trainers want you to know before you embark into the world of fitness.
Find the ‘why’ of your journey.
If you are looking to form a long term commitment to fitness, then identifying the ‘why’ of your journey will mean the difference between an unused gym membership and a lifelong pledge to yourself. Before you sign on the dotted line, before you invest in new gym wear and before you stack up on protein powders and powerful supplements, take the time to identify your driving factors. Is it a desire to be healthier, to have more energy or to fit back into those favourite jeans? Whatever drives you, put it into writing and make it a permanent reminder. Leave sticky notes next to your alarm clock, on your mirror, in the bathroom and remind yourself why you’re pushing ahead even on your hardest of days.
Remember that you are not in competition with anyone else but yourself. Become the best possible version of ‘YOU’ because you are deserving of it.
Then find ‘the one.’
If you live on Instagram and love social media, then you may feel like a new fitness fad is just around the corner. Whether it be KX Pilates one day and boxing the next, there is always a shiny new form of exercise to keep us engaged. But if you really want to commit to something long term, don’t follow the crowds but rather find a way of keeping fit that suits both your tastes and lifestyle. Consider whether you like big classes or smaller and more intimate settings. Consider whether you want to work on your cardio, flexibility or both and consider whether you want to be outdoors or indoors. With most gyms and classes offering introductory packages and free trials, the time to test the waters has never been better.
Don’t forget that the biggest gym in the world is free. The great outdoors offers the perfect backdrop for walks, runs, bike rides and hikes. Why not start by getting more active outside before you dive into a membership at your local gym.
Invest in the journey
When it comes to gym clothes, shoes or supplements, it’s less about being part of a clique and more about having the tools to perform. While some labels have gained somewhat of a cult status within the realm of fashion and food (yes, yes we know Happy Way is the coolest protein powder to own), investing in P.E. Nation tights or a quality powder may mean the difference between an enjoyable gym session and a speedy recovery or an uncomfortable session. If you are taking up running, invest in running shoes which will deliver support. If you are taking on a gym membership, invest in gym clothes which will help keep you cool, dry and will provide extra support for your muscles and if you want to take your post-workout recovery up a notch, invest in quality protein powders which will help you recover faster.
Also, if we’re really honest, there is a motivation factor that comes with putting on a brand new pair of tights and runners. If you look the part, you will also feel the part. Treat yourself to some new gym threads because you deserve it.
Partner up with likeminded people
Embarking on a fitness journey is half the battle, the other half is longevity and making it a part of your life for years to come. This is where your girl gang can step in to help. While your entire friendship group may not be into fitness or exercising in the great outdoors, find that one friend that will keep you accountable and will come on the journey with you. Even better, be that positive influence on your friends by inviting them to gym trials with you or by suggesting a takeaway coffee and walk instead of your usual sit down breakfast or brunch date. Small changes deliver the biggest results because they are sustainable and will become a welcome part of your lifestyle.
If you can’t find a partner who will consistently join you at the gym, become your own best friend. Write encouraging notes to yourself and leave them at your desk, at your bedside table and in places that will surprise you when you need the encouragement the most.
Make it consistent before you make it hard.
Before you step into hour-long sessions at the gym and block off several mornings a week, start with smaller and consistent steps, then work your way up. This goes both for the number of sessions you commit to and the intensity you put into each workout. If you have been planning on taking up running as an example, don’t start with hour-long runs which will leave you burning out before your first week is even up. Instead, opt for 15 minute runs instead and work your way up. The sample principle should be applied to your gym classes. Don’t be a hero and book into an intermediate or advanced class because it sounds tougher. Allow your body to ease into the routine and avoid injury by pushing your body below its limits.
If you don’t take our word for it, then listen to science. If your aim is muscle growth or to tone up, then consistency will be the most important factor in your journey.
Take your post-workout recovery seriously.
Nothing will stop you in your tracks like delayed onset of muscle soreness, more commonly referred to as DOMS. Now, when it comes to fitness, the motto of ‘no pain, no gain’ rings true to a certain extent. By the very nature of wanting to build on your muscle mass or even increase your stamina, you will experience a level of soreness and discomfort. However, this should be differentiated from severe DOMS and injury, which may occur from pushing yourself too far or not taking your post-recovery seriously. If you want to avoid persistent injury and prolonging DOMS, then make sure you stretch after each session and consider taking up yoga or Pilates in between your strength and cardio training. Don’t forget to replenish your protein stores, which will not only help build your muscle mass faster but will also help speed up your recovery. Finally, don’t forget to keep hydrated. Your recovery and energy levels depend on it.
If you really need a little added incentive to take your post-workout recovery seriously then why not give this salted caramel, banana and mixed berry smoothie a go. Sure it sounds like the kind of dessert you would order at your favourite cafe, but this treat is packed full of protein and is squeaky clean ingredients, a win for your taste buds and hardworking muscles.
Practice gratitude at every step of the process
One of the most common reasons for starting a fitness journey is a desire to change our body, whether that be to shape up, tone up, to increase our strength or to increase stamina. Once we have made up our minds that we want transformation, we begin to focus on the future instead of being present. That means that we often want to see results too fast or set unrealistic expectations. Instead of attaching negative connotations and emotions to your body and fitness levels, choose to be grateful for what you have first. Practise gratitude and give your body the kind of love it truly deserves. This will not only change your mindset and will lead to lifelong changes, but it will also allow you to enjoy the journey and the process.
Why not try changing the way you talk about exercise. Instead of saying ‘today, I have to go to the gym’ practice saying ‘today I get the opportunity to go to the gym and to give my body the care and love it truly deserves’. Remove all negative associations with your journey.
Focus on the ‘self-care’ aspect of fitness
The benefits of exercising far exceed building on muscle mass and reaching our fitness goals. When it comes to leading an active lifestyle, it should be considered as a crucial step in self-care and our overall health. That is because getting the heart racing releases all those feel-good endorphins in our brain. Beyond the release of these happy chemicals, exercising is also shown to help alleviate stress and anxiety with scientific studies showing that regular cardio workouts can decrease overall tension during times of distress. Beyond this, exercise has also been shown to promote better sleep.
So rather than looking at exercise as something to be dreaded, consider it an act of self-care. Just like your morning beauty routine or that half-yearly check-up at the doctors, you owe it to yourself to make time for this act of self-care.