Having embarked on her fitness journey a year ago, Gym Plus Drogheda member Laura shares what motivated her to initially join and shares some tips for others thinking about starting a new exercise programme.
“I’m so busy, I wouldn’t be able to fit it in”
This was my number one excuse for not exercising up until a year ago. I had lots of other excuses too including “I wouldn’t know where to start” and “I’ll look into it next week, month….year.”
Having been someone who was very active in the past and enjoyed exercising in my twenties, somewhere in my thirties kids, work and life took over and inactivity became routine. And as time passed I became less and less interested in any exercise.
I also had quite an irrational fear of the gym itself. Having taken classes but never been a member of a gym before I didn’t know if it was something I would enjoy.
But despite the excuses, I was well aware of the benefits of exercising. And I couldn’t ignore the obvious fact that my metabolism was slowing down. My weight was creeping up and I developed a persistent hip pain that I knew was related to inactivity. And after a health assessment with my GP, it shook me to reflect on my lifestyle. It was clear I needed to do something. Anything.
Soon after, I spotted an online ad for an exercise intervention programme at Gym Plus Drogheda and I decided to sign up. The programme was a six-week programme designed for anyone who was currently inactive. The aim was to ignite the participants’ interest in fitness, motivating us to continue on our fitness journeys and feel the benefits of the training even within those few weeks.
And it worked.
We did 45 minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) style classes twice each week. This involved cardio exercises on the treadmill, cross trainer and indoor bike mixed with resistance training exercises using kettlebells and suspension straps. It was a shock to the system at first and tougher than any of us had expected but we all made it to the end of class each week. And the duration of the six weeks.
Making the decision to join
The intervention programme definitely gave me the kick I needed to join. I could physically feel the benefits after the six weeks of exercise. I had more energy, I felt stronger and my clothes had started to fit more comfortably.
But it had also changed my mindset.
It was as if my mind had switched into goal-mode and exercise felt more natural than before. The realisation about how it made me feel as opposed to how it could make me look, was the deciding factor for me to take action and join.
Finding my feet
Digging deeper into my real hesitations about joining a gym, I realised I had been more anxious about actually starting a new routine than the routine itself. How would I know where to start, what I should be doing and how often?
So for me doing the intervention programme and getting the Gym Plus free fitness assessment after joining was invaluable. I booked in for a session with a trainer who chatted about my fitness goals and took my measurements using the Tanita body composition scales. This scales measures weight along with % body fat, BMI, visceral fat, metabolic age and more. And all the info is available on the FitSense app that is free to use for all members of Gym Plus.
The body composition data allows the trainer to understand the member’s overall health based on the in-depth body analysis. Enabling them to create an advanced personalised health and fitness programme.
Setting Goals And Finding Motivation
Then came the hard part. Actually showing up every week.
It is 100% the hardest part of fitness. I learned over the next few months that I would never regret a workout but would always regret when I didn’t make the effort to go. My programme is manageable and I really surprised myself at how quickly I built up stamina in a few weeks.
And for me heading to the gym and being around others who are in the same situation is a huge incentive and motivator to keep going. But it all starts with a realistic goal.
As one of the trainers explained to me, our brains like goals. With every achievement on the path to meeting a goal, our body releases dopamine into our brains. And this chemical elevation keeps us focused and motivated. So breaking long-term goals into shorter ones, means we get that regular dopamine motivation. Personally, I still have a long way to go to achieve my final weight loss goal. But I have learned not to obsess about the long term. It’s about showing up each week, following the programme, rewarding ourselves as we progress and the rest will come.
Trying something new
One tip I would have as a new member is to try some classes. On a whim, I took an Aquafit class and discovered I love it. The low impact, non-competitive nature of the class appeals to me. And the Aquafit group are a lot of fun. Surprisingly, the workout itself is a little more challenging than I initially thought too.
Some of my other favourite classes are Yoga Flow, Rebounding and Kettlebells. The best thing is you can try lots of classes to find the ones that you enjoy the most without committing to something you don’t like.
Friends of mine who are regular gym-goers had previously talked about the gym as their me-time. Up until I joined I associated me-time with quiet time. Spent somewhere alone, in a tranquil environment. Not out of breath with upbeat music, sweating alongside strangers.
However, I totally get it now. I would actually say exercise can be very therapeutic. Although prioritising my health was my main motivation to join, the gym has also been a place for me to de-stress, clear my mind and sometimes to think through a problem when I’m stuck on something. Going for a swim or relaxing in the jacuzzi or sauna after a workout are all nice ways to unwind and relax too.
One year later
So one year on from making the decision to start exercising, my biggest tip for anyone considering returning to it after a long break is to make exercise a habit. Planning my week in advance and carving out time for exercise, in or outside the gym, helps to motivate me to actually take action.
One great way to do this is to book your classes for the week in advance using the FitSense app. You can check the schedule of classes and book in easily or cancel a class if you need to. It helps me fit everything into the week and schedule my other commitments around it.
Getting my gym gear ready the night before I intend to go, tracking my exercises and reminding myself of why I started all help me to sustain the willpower to show up every week. And I know the why will always be the reason I keep doing it.
The other factor that makes it easier to go every week is the hello and warm smile I’ve come to expect from everyone in the club. The atmosphere is so friendly and welcoming, from the reception staff and the trainers to other members. From the moment I walk through the doors, I can feel the energy and it genuinely makes the experience more enjoyable.
So looking back one year on, I feel more in control of my health. I feel more confident with my programme, with going to the gym alone and would encourage anyone looking to start a new exercise routine to see what the gym can offer you.
Some tips for beginners looking for a gym:
- Get a Guest Pass: Get a feel for the gyms you are interested in with a one-day guest pass. When you visit have a list of questions ready to ask the trainer showing you around, see how the staff are interacting with other members and try out a class during the visit. You will get a sense of the layout and general atmosphere during this time and it will help you decide if it’s right for you.
- Find your motivator: It may very well be the gym environment itself. Or a fitness buddy, a personal trainer, group fitness class or something else. Once you are in the right mindset to exercise and keep showing up every week, the results will follow naturally.
- Use the trainer’s expertise: Use the free fitness assessment to help you to determine where you are now and what you want to achieve. The trainers are very friendly and helpful and want to help you succeed. They are also excellent at pushing you when you need it. They will help you settle in initially, help you set goals and at Gym Plus will give you free assessments every 6 weeks to increase your fitness, keep track of your progress and motivate you.
- Try something new: Don’t be afraid of trying a new class. The instructors can adjust exercises to suit different ages and fitness abilities. Find something you enjoy and you will never look back.
If you are interested in learning more about Gym Plus and would like a one-day guest pass, download yours now HERE.