Fitness Centers for Beginners

About: Human who loves learning from others and sharing what she knows

Hi there. I am an overweight 50 year old woman who has diabetes. I am not writing this Instructable from a professional but personal point of view.

I was the person who had every excuse in the book for not going to a fitness center. Time and cost were two of the main reasons I presented to others. The truth is I was ashamed to go into a wellness center, fitness center or gym. Having been morbidly obese for most of my adult life, I didn't want to go into a room full of fit people and try to struggle through a workout.

When the medicine I was on for my diabetes had a very violent reaction, my doctor changed my medicine. Then she added those dreaded words "watch your diet and get more exercise". Now when you work a weird schedule, on night shift, sitting 99.99999% of that 12 hours, it is difficult to think about diet and exercise. The excuse queen was in rare form. Wanna know why I can't go to the gym, take your pick.

I looked at different diets, I walked almost every day. I was doing okay, until....

A friend and I went for a hike in the woods and on a hill that I should have been able to take, I found myself gasping for air and having to stop. Not wanting to stop, having to stop. There is a difference.

In that moment not a single excuse I was making could help me catch my breath. Not only was it embarrassing, it was scary.

I knew then, in that moment, that although in the past 7 years I have lost 135 pounds (a whole person), I was still not fit.

I needed to make a change and quick.

So here are some things I found as I eased my way into the gym.

Step 1: What Do I Need to Start???

Well of course the first thing I needed to think about was what do I need.

  • Your doctor's blessing - Safety first. You wanted to be cleared medically before starting any exercise program. (PSA OVER)
  • You've got to have motivation and determination. To quote a Reba McIntire song, "you gotta have a little want to".
  • A membership - this may seem costly, you may not think you can afford it. Let me pose this question how do you put a price on feeling better on a regular basis. Don't allow it to be a have to before you join the gym. Like ummmm ME!!!
  • Workout clothes - Do you have shorts, sweatpants, leggings? Do you own tank tops or tee shirts? Tennis shoes??? Well, you have your workout clothes. You don't have to spend a fortune for workout clothes.
  • If you want to listen to music while you workout, I suggest an arm band . That way you don't have to worry about your phone falling out of your pocket or sweating on it. This are cheap enough at big box stores.
  • A play list of songs that inspire you. Some of the songs on my play list are:
    "The Champion"", Confident", "Independent Women", "Dear Younger Me", "I'm Not who I was", "Eagle When She Flies", "What are You Waiting For". Just to name a few. Every song on your play list doesn't have to have a thumping beat and be fast. Some can be slower and have a meaning that inspires you to keep pushing forward when it gets hard. Please feel free to borrow any of the ideas for your playlist or if you are reading this, share your favorite motivational song. I might want to add it to my list.
  • Ear Buds- I would suggest bluetooth head phones if you have or can get them. You will inevitably catch the corded ear phones over something and rip them out of your ears.
  • Water, of the utmost importance. The plan is to sweat. You need to make sure you replenish your water.

Step 2: Start Slow With What You Know...

The day I walked into the center, I did so rather sheepishly. It was a closely guarded secret. I had made up my mind and I went in, signed up paid my money and walked into the gym. That first day I looked around and was terrified. Here were all these weights and machines and I knew what two of them were for. The treadmill and the bike. Otherwise I was like a deer in the headlights.

Well, I quickly found out that the treadmill although a useful tool was not for me. I was bored. I would rather do my walking outside. I like to see things. Now if you are apprehensive about walking on a treadmill, let me assure you it starts slowly and flat. When you start it, it isn't going to spring into a dead run. It gently allows you to begin and as you get comfortable you can increase your speed and your incline.

The bike is much better suited for me. Once again, I started out at level one. That first day I rode for twenty minutes. It was easy for me, I didn't really get bored doing that one. You can adjust your time as you are comfortable.

If you like the elliptical, it is a great tool. I will go more into my love / hate relationship later.

Just do what you are comfortable with. Start slow. Don't be Superman or Wonder Woman, be you. Everyone in the place started just like you, a beginner.

Step 3: Learn the Machines You Are Using...

Take time to learn the machines you are using. Just like anything you use. Know what you are doing before you use it. It will save you pain and injury later on.

If you are using the weight machines, start on the lowest level. You can adjust the amount of weight you are working with. Adding to much weight can cause injury but also be mindful to add enough weight to be effective. Your body will tell you if you can do more and if you try and can't, that really is okay. Go back down and try again.

Seat position on these machines is important as well. A person like me, with short legs will have to set up the machines differently than my friend who is over 6 feet tall.

Read the instructions that are posted on the machines. One for technique and also as to not cause harm to yourself.

Okay, there are a great number of you who want to know how things work, keep your hands away from the weights, belts and other moving parts.

Step 4: Learn Your Weaknesses....

You will quickly learn your weaknesses. Mine is the elliptical. We have a showdown every time I workout.

This is where I will talk about that love / hate relationship. I love that the machine works everything. It provides an amazing workout. I hate how my thighs burn when I am trying to use the machine. This tells me I need to work more on that part of my body.

The first day, I went a minute before my thighs were killing me. One minute. The people to the side of me were running on the thing and here I was pausing after a minute.

Don't be ashamed of the pause. If you pause for a few seconds, it isn't the end of the world. Don't give up. Don't stop. Just pause.

There may be machines that you can do better than others. That is great. Do those, try the other machines as well. You may rock the elliptical and hate the bike. Spend time doing what you enjoy. Have fun because if you don't it is punishment instead of pleasure.

I watched how others were using the machine. One young lady was treating it as if it was a stepper,I had more of a skiing thing sloppily going on. Okay, I would try that. It helped.

Now, when I start my workout, I walk for 20 minutes on the indoor track, do 5 minutes on the elliptical, ride the bike for 20, five on the elliptical, 20 on the recumbent cross trainer, 5 more minutes, do some of the weight machines and the last five on the elliptical. It adds up to 20 minutes and exercise is cumulative.

My goal is to do 20 minutes at once on that machine. Set a goal for that area that your are not your best at. Don't compare yourself to others, it is defeatist. You aren't competing with anyone else. You are just trying to better yourself.

Step 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New

Some of the machines may look daunting, even scary. I told my friend that I was steering away from anything that looked like it was in a gynecologist office. Because some of them did. He having been a gym before knew exactly which ones I meant.

Some of them look like the human body can't fit into the provided space, especially a larger human body. Try them anyway. Your body will fit, trust the designers, they know what they are doing.

I have found some of them very fun.

Try to add something new to your workout every day. Each machine is designed to work a different part of your body. If you do the entire circuit, you will have worked all the major muscles in your body.

Step 6: Ask Questions...

If you want to know something.... ask. I watched how others used the machines and finally I got the nerve to ask some questions. Most people will be glad to show you about the machine they are on.

I didn't want to feel like I was bothering anyone but I wanted to know so just a brief "how do you use this?" probably isn't going to distract anyone and most people are happy to help a newbie. They remember those days.

I can't swim, so I asked the people at the center if there was an adult swimming class; beginning level swimming class for adults. They took my name and number and said they would give it to the swim instructor. Still haven't heard from that but I am hopeful.

Today, I asked if the therapy pool was open to members. I have only been doing this a short period of time and I am thinking about wearing a bathing suit for the first time in my life.It is open to members. Woot woot!!!

If you don't ask the answer will always be no

Step 7: Have a Plan B

There will be days that you just have no desire to go to the gym, hey, it happens. You don't wanna be around people, the kids are sick, you feel unmotivated while the gym open or you don't want to get out of the house because of the weather. Have a plan B.

At my house I have small weights, shaker weight, a yoga ball, walking, dancing and Zumba DVDs. I utilized those on those days. Here is another helpful hint, check your local thrift store. They sometimes have items for you to use in your home for cheap.

Just make sure to move, keep thoses muscle busy. Your workout won't be so bad when you go back to the gym.

Step 8: Some Final Thoughts

It has been only a couple of weeks since I have joined my gym. I already feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. It has taken me swallowing my pride and overcoming my own preconceived notions of what I thought I was walking into. Here goes... I was wr wr wr wrong.

It has been a great experience for me. It is something that I now look forward to doing. It is a stress reliever for me and I am learning that the more stress I carry, the harder I work out.

Even if it doesn't do what the doctor wanted it to do, it has been great for me. I have more energy, I sleep better, I drink more water and I have fun. To be totally honest, it has helped me regain some of my focus.

SO please, if you are setting barriers in the way of letting yourself go into the gym, break them down, jump over them, crawl under them. Do what you have to do to feel better about yourself and don't forget to drink your water.

Until next time,

Love and Peace

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