Everyone has their own little routine when they hit the gym floor, my routine today is very different to what it was a few years back. I was the girl that loved spin class, it was tough, got you sweaty, and when you get sweaty you’ve done a good work out, right? I would have done the relentless blast on the running machine, and I maybe used a machine or two, not really having a clue what I was doing.
There is no need to lift big heavy weights! Weight training can mean anything from using your own bodyweight to using weights such as dumbbells or barbells, but the weight you use must always be appropriate to you.
What do these types of workouts have in common? They are easy in the sense they don’t draw much attention to yourself, or so your head tells you. If you enjoy these types of workouts that’s fine, but if you want to branch out because you know the benefits are huge and have a fear then this is something we need to address. Now I don’t want to make this all about women, but lets face it, it’s mainly the female of the species that shy away from the free weights area of the gym. In the past I have written about the benefits of lifting weights for bone health, body composition, and just gaining good old fashioned strength. What if you are up for the change in routine, realise it is going to benefit you hugely but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you have been keen in the past but put if off because you are afraid of hurting yourself.
I challenge you to shake things up a bit, grab yourself a personal trainer and get some basic skills under your belt. I can hear you scream, oh but personal trainers are too expensive! Well, this is a serious investment in your health, and you just need a few sessions to hone the skills and then you can work away on your own. Perhaps you can check in for a few more sessions in the future again making sure your technique is on point. I went to a 2 day health and fitness seminar a year ago and the skills I took away from that have stayed with me. How to lift correctly, making sure to engage the correct muscles, simple instructions but vital in order to prevent injury.
I was keen to hear the perspective of a personal trainer, a friend of mine, Jill Smyth.
Here is what she had to say:
Karen: Why do you think people are scared to change their routine in the gym?
Jill: People can get stuck in a rut in the gym, and find themselves sticking to the few exercises that they know. Also, a lot of folk think that it’s just a matter of putting the time in on the treadmill to work off those calories or to earn that chocolate bar or take away, without realising that the most effective way to lose weight and to gain strength, muscle tone and shape is through good nutrition and weight training.
Karen: What would you tell women who say, “I don’t want big muscles, I’m just going to hit the cardio today.”?
Jill: I hear women say this all the time, but there’s definitely no need to worry that you’ll look like Arnie in a few short weeks! Women actually have 10-30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (growth in size) than men. This means that it’s actually pretty difficult for women to gain size from strength training, but you will gain lovely muscle tone and definition… Mmm mmm!
Karen: What do you say to people who think you have to run for an hour on the treadmill to shift weight?
Jill: I would say that good nutrition and weight-training is actually the best combination for fat loss. Weight training burns way more calories than cardio. Cardio burns energy only when you’re doing it. After the session is over, your metabolic rate slows to normal and that’s it. With weight training you burn more calories while training plus you have an elevated metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after training.
Cardio is fine as part of your weekly training if you enjoy it, or if you’re specifically training for a running/cycling event for example, but if weight loss is your goal then you need to focus on your diet and weight training.
Karen: What would you say to women who are scared to lift heavy weights?
Jill: There is no need to lift big heavy weights! Weight training can mean anything from using your own bodyweight to using weights such as dumbbells or barbells, but the weight you use must always be appropriate to you. It’s all about having good technique, proper form, working at the correct speed and doing the right numbers of repetitions and sets, and a good PT will keep you right with all of this.
Karen: Do you give any dietary advice to your clients?
Jill: Yes, I ask my clients to keep a food diary for at least 3 days. This enables me to see the gaps in their nutrition and offer advice on how they can improve their nutrition to help meet their goals. Small changes to your nutrition can have a big impact, so don’t feel that you have to be radical and change everything at once. Small changes made over a longer period of time are easier to stick to so you’re more likely to keep them up and create a healthy lifestyle in the long term.
Karen: Why do you think it’s important to get a PT?
Jill: Working with a PT can change everything. I know because I’ve been there. After I had my first baby I was very self conscious about my body, it had drastically changed and my old routine of pottering about the treadmill, rower, and attempting the odd resistance machine was getting me down and getting me nowhere!
Thankfully my husband got sick of my moaning and bit the bullet for me, buying me a six week programme with Marty Cummings, a PT at my gym. I can honestly say that this changed everything for me… Having a PT meant I had someone who listened to me, knew my starting point, knew my goals, and most importantly knew exactly how to get me there. I was lifting weights and using machines I’d never have gone near on my own. I knew that he was ensuring my form and techniques were correct, I knew that I was working out safely. And most importantly, I was getting results!!
Even just having Marty’s company in the gym gave me such confidence. I wasn’t there alone. I started to get to know other people, I started to feel welcome, to really look forward to going, to being part of the gym community. This is definitely where my spark and desire to become a PT myself came from, I know the change that getting fit, strong and healthy can make in someone’s life and I love that I am now getting that for my clients too.
Karen: What would you like to see more of on the gym floor and why?
Jill: Confident women enjoying the free weights area!
Karen: What is your favourite aspect of personal training?
Jill: When clients first start seeing results! I just love it when someone tells me that they’ve been complimented at work on their weight, or told by friends that they’re looking glowing and healthy. Or that they’ve lost inches from their waist, that their clothes are fitting better, their confidence is increased, they’ve finally been able to wear that dress they thought they’d never fit into. Its the most rewarding work ever, I just love being able to help people get healthier, fitter, stronger and the confidence that it brings.
Jill can be found at DW Sports, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, and on Facebook at JILL PT.
Do you suffer from gym fear? How have you gotten over it? We’d love to hear from you so why not leave a comment below!