After the London Marathon the other weekend I am sure some people are getting inspired to start a new exercise regime. I have a little guest post for you, all about common gym mistakes (and if you read to the end you will see some of the mistakes I have seen too- one of them still amuses me today).
Common Gym Mistakes
A common gym mistake made by new gym-goers and regular fitness fanatics is underestimating the amount of fuel to consume both before, during and after a workout.
If you have never been to a gym before, take a large bottle of water, approximately 1 litre. I always keep a spare bottle in my car or gym locker in case of emergencies. The most important thing to remember is that you need to replace the fluid that you are sweating out as it is your body’s way of cleansing. Make sure that you also drink plenty of water or energy drinks after your workout as well, to restock your fluids on your body’s cool down. LA Fitness have water on tap at all of their gyms so there’s no excuse!
Food is just as important as water. Lots of people who go to the gym with the purpose of losing weight go on an empty stomach with the notion that this will help them lose weight faster. This is completely wrong as your body cannot burn off the energy unless it has fuel and will tire much quicker. Proteins and good carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown bread and cereal bars are a great source of fuel to keep your body going. However, try not to eat too close to a workout, I find a banana is a fantastic source of energy without compromising feeling sea-sick or risking stomach cramps and stitches halfway through your time at the gym.
It is also important to refuel after the gym, and remember that your body continues to burn the fat well after your workout. It doesn’t mean that you should go home via the chip shop (or Starbucks!), but again stick to carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins to keep your metabolism going.
Without fuel your body cannot function and it is easy to forget this when many of us are seeking to lose weight and see food as the enemy. Just make sure you choose the right food and drink to aide your exercise and see improvements whatever your aim.
So, what was the mistake I noticed?
Years ago I used to belong to the gym, and used to go about 3 times a week after work. The gym was only small, with a couple of bikes, maybe 6 treadmills, plus a few other machines, and weights machines. Anyway, there was a lady who was only wearing a swimming costume while on the exercise bike. To this day I can’t quite believe that she did that! But I would say wearing cotton is a massive mistake (especially light grey!). If you are going to get sweaty, cotton gets damp and then does not dry, so it goes soggy and rubs (and the light colours show up the sweat a lot). So I would say get a cheap sweat-wicking top as it will leave you feeling much cooler and with less chafing.
I also think fuelling is a massive issue, and something that can take a while to get right. I find that bananas are not good for me to have before I exercise, whereas a post race banana is something I really look forward to.
I have also learnt over time that I don’t always need something to eat before I workout. I used to be a bit paranoid about feeling hungry during a workout (I had a couple of dizzy spells at one point and started to equate feeling hungry with feeling faint), so I would always have a small snack like a cereal bar before going to the gym. Since taking up running I have learnt that I can run in the morning for up to an hour before breakfast, and if I am running further I can manage with a small snack, head out and eat breakfast when I get home (and on these runs I run much faster too- no stomach issues to slow me down). But this is individual to everyone so I think you have to work out what suits you.
I also think that fitness classes are sometimes underrated, and I wish I had tried the classes out sooner. I really enjoy them for something different, and find them really motivating (this is a lot to do with the instructors)- but then if you try one and don’t like it you have only lost an hour.
Finally I would say that you should make the most of the induction time with the instructors. When I look back I was so nervous about going, and really just wanted to get on and do it myself, so I didn’t ever have a program set up for me, but I can see how beneficial it would have been, as I just spent my time plodding on the cardio machines and then guessing at random weights for all the weights machines.
Are you a member of a gym? What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a member?