The GYM – Take 1!

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Two months back I figured I had too much of time on my hands and mind (a little too much for my own good :P) – so I set my fears and hesitation aside and decided to join the gym.

I had earlier enquired at a couple of reasonably reputed gyms and received calls informing me of some good offers. I have always had this misconception that the gym is meant for models or body builders – before I could develop cold feet I headed to the gyms to check them out. My experience as a newbie “gymmer”:

I opted for one of the better known gyms even though it is a few kms from my place. Its reputation aside, I found the gym clean, the trainers and staff courteous, the equipment was not intimidating and last but not the least – there was a massage and sauna as well. Yipppeee :)!!! Had fun shopping for gym gear, I seriously never know there were so many varieties of sneakers and branded track pants and sweats.

The first couple of days was exciting – I was taken through a circuit training where I got to try all the equipment and test my strength/ speed. And then came the fitness test where I had to go through a cardio workout followed by strength and finally floor exercises. Quite manageable for beginners. This was followed by me getting my card – Strength and weights workout for Day 1 and Cardio for Day 2.

The workouts seemed a little intense initially –  my muscles were protesting loudly at the exertion but I gradually fell into a pace which was comfortable. Having finished one phase of workouts I am due to start the next cycle which my trainer has promised will be a lot more rigorous and tough. Hmmm.. Bring it on I say :P!!

Just a word – there are various forms of exercise and physical activity which are just as or even more beneficial.  It is merely that my terms of reference is the gym.

FACTS about working out in the gym:

1. ANYONE can start working out in a gym.

By anyone I mean your age, shape, sex, height, weight, fitness levels are NOT a constraint. I was in fact amazed at the number of middle aged ladies and elderly gentlemen working out very regularly. I see very generously built people striding on the treadmill and pulling weights with equal confidence as the slim guys and girls in trendy gym gear! Fitness levels vary with individuals but that is precisely why you have the certified trainers who assess your capability before assigning any workout to you.

2. Most good gyms focus on FITNESS – for everyone

Bodybuilding or making you size zero are just a couple of options but the primary focus is assessing your current fitness level and enhancing it. But if you have a specific goal of getting a six pack or just weight loss, they are happy to oblige you and customize your regimen. But to reiterate, a good gym focusses on the overall fitness first – the rest comes later.

3. You can workout even if you have a medical condition (unless very severe, in which case you wouldn’t venture near the gym in the first place :))

I have noticed the trainers taking special care with elderly people or with members who have had injuries resulting in back or knee problems. Ensure you inform the counsellors or senior trainers regarding the problems (pains, hypertension, hormonal problems, diabetes, etc) so that the workouts can be suitably modified and your workouts carefully monitored.

3. Feeling sick? Slight flu or headache? Yes, you can workout

The first time I had a throat infection and was on antibiotics I called my trainer and told him I was on meds and therefore would not make it. Surprisingly I was told that it was OK to have a light workout unless you have fever or severe body ache. I actually felt better after doing light to moderate cardio despite my antibiotics. But do take care if you have a bad bout of flu or something equally infectious – you could end up infecting the entire floor, especially since it is a closed air conditioned environment.

4. Stressed out? Feel you cannot handle the additional pressure of going to the gym? HIT the GYM!

I joined the gym to tone my body but believe me it is also THE BEST WAY TO DESTRESS! This was a definite bonus since I very soon realized that I was a lot more calmer and relaxed after a workout. Problems didnt seem to matter too much and the best part is that for the duration of the workout, you mind stops thinking. You are so focussed on what you are doing and the breathing and the counts, you wouldn’t even notice if someone went starkers next to you :P..

5. Feeling tired, low on energy and depressed? Get a high by working out!

The idea of working out in the evening after work can be tiring and leave you feeling all drained out – there are many times a nice dinner and TV has seemed more appealing. But if you can overcome the lethargy and spend even half an hour in the gym, it is guaranteed to not just elevate your energy level, but your mood as well. There is a very sound medical explanation for this but let me not get into that at this point 🙂

Want to share some DOs and DONTs as well as some tips which are handy in the gym – will save it for my next post..

Till then.. keep working out 🙂

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