Guest Blog: 5 tips to for getting started/ starting up again for better overall fitness.

By: Mark Halpenny

So, the Holiday season is almost over. You’re feeling a little sluggish and are still full from the family dinner a few days ago. You decide that it’s time to make a change, but, where to begin? You don’t want to walk into a gym that’s as busy as a zoo — especially around January — when the only time it’s quiet to use the machines is at 3:30 in the morning. These are my 5 simple tips to getting up and off the couch and getting that blood flowing again during these unforgiving winter months.


1) Fitness does not have to mean hitting the gym.

Most people think of the gym as an answer to getting leaner/ stronger, or toned, or whatever your goal may be. Not true. Try looking into a new sport you always wanted: things like Groupon always have interesting class ideas that you can try without much commitment or signing any contract.

Whatever season is your favorite, there’s bound to be something you always thought looked intriguing. My number one most important tip: Enjoy what you’re doing and be entertained by it! If it’s not fun for you, it’s not worth it

2) Look around for a trainer that suits your style.

The gym might be something in which you always wanted to get involved, but you feel like everyone there knows that you don’t know what you’re doing the moment you walk in. If you can afford it, look into a trainer; not forever but to help you get started and give you a path. If you can’t afford a trainer, look around your area for independent gyms rather than those big box centers. Most trainers are well certified and extremely knowledgeable. I have often found big box gyms to have a larger overturn of trainers, so check out a local spot. These smaller gyms can often be much better priced. When searching for a trainer, it is still a good idea to do your homework and make sure that your interests align for it to be a good fit.

3) Try starting with an at-home challenge, followed by bodyweight routines.

Can’t afford a gym, let alone a trainer? Try a 30 day challenge (3 0dayfitnesschallenges.com is a good one). These tend to start slow and let you grow. The first work out could be a few minutes but once in your routine (for work outs to become routine it takes a few weeks {mentally and physically} to become routine, but that’s for another blog post), by the end of your month/goal, the time flies. If you’re confused by a movement, search it online. There are millions of tutorials out there. Many of these tutorials/ exercises can be done with just body weight, which lead into and can be epic workouts — I know this first hand! At the same time, use your personal judgement when searching for tutorials. Just be sure to start slow, watch the videos, watch the form, mentally prepare and see, so when you find a video you wish to do you can do the movements as you listen but can see the movements in your mind. That’s the key for many beginners.

4) Don’t have any “zero” days.

A zero day is where you do nothing physical at all. You have the mentality that since you went hard yesterday, doing nothing today would be okay. NO, lol. It has been shown, t he CDC (Center for Disease Control) for example, says only 2.30 hours a week or break that down to 30 minutes a day of medium-intensity exercise (like walking) can provide benefits. Some people think if their schedule is too busy to spare at least 30 minutes, that it’s better not to even bother. Go for a brisk walk. Break up 30 minutes into 5 minute increments throughout the day. Do a little something for yourself every day. Start your goal off with, “ I no longer want any zero days”.

5) It is a marathon, not a sprint!

Start low and go slow! People tend to forget that fitness is not a speed race. We set goals and expect to see results immediately, without giving ourselves the time we need to achieve them. Take triathletes for example. They need to learn to run, swim and bike before they begin. There are different stages and levels to every fitness goal. But people often forget that if you load too much into a plan for many individuals too quickly, it won’t be long before they say that they are too busy to do the fitness activity one day (because life) and skip it. Once you’ve skipped one, for many, that pretty much means “game over”. So start low, go slow. If you wish to hit the gym, don’t just walk in and throw up as much as you can on the bench or squat rack, especially if it has been a fair amount of time since you were last active. (Trust me, you want to walk and lift your arms the rest of the week.) Thats like wanting to learn boxing, having never done it before, and the day you finally get the courage to walk into a boxing club they immediately throw you in the ring with a prize fighter. Not only is that bad business, as you’ll probably never go back, but it leaves a bad impression in your mind. In either case, the drive to get back out there is over before it’s even started.

List your interests and start from there. Whatever you do, just make sure it makes you smile when you think about your next class or session. And remember it’s 100% acceptable to change activities when your interests change. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise — I mean, this is your path to being healthy!

Mark Halpenny is the owner of MH Fitness in Etobicoke On, being in the business for over 15 years He runs a private personal training studio focused on those who need a little guidance to start their new life and journey, but have no one to show them the way in an affordable surrounding. He can be reached at info@mhfitness.org or at 647-609-7275

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