Ah, the new year is upon us, which means the gym is flooded with new year’s resolution people. Most regular gym goers hate this time of year because the gyms are crowded, but know it will be short-lived. I get inspired by more people trying to become healthier.
One of the main reasons I think people quit coming to the gym is that it seems so complicated. But here’s the secret: It isn’t.
I’ve had a couple of people ask me to go with them to the gym and learn how to weight lift. I go, and the main question I get afterward is, “That’s it? That seems to simple.” Yep, it does, and it is.
So why does it seem so complicated?
- Trainers make it that way. I’ve blogged about this before, trainers are salespeople. Their job performance at most gyms is based on how many of their clients they get to renew their training packages. So think about it, their goal is convince you that you need them, and one of their favorite ways to do this is to make things look so complicated that you couldn’t possibly do it on your own.
- Gym regulars get bored. So they try new things. Or, they haven’t realized yet that muscle confusion is (mostly) a myth. This is one of the reasons why you see the regulars doing crazy, complicated things. But you don’t need to. After a couple of years, if you get bored, sure, go ahead, try something fancy now and then, but when you are just getting started, you don’t need to make your workouts complicated.
- Gym regulars have different goals. Yes, professional athletes and bodybuilders do more complicated things. That’s because they have vastly different goals than most people. Unless your goal is to become one of them, you don’t need to do fancy stuff.
- The fitness industry tries to hook you with “new” things. This isn’t necessarily bad, I like trying new classes and such. But, as someone who has been an athlete since age 4, I can tell you that “new” is actually “repackaged.” For example, High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) looks suspiciously like the old lactate training I did in high school swimming.
Recommendations for the average person and general gym-goer
Unless you are planning to become a professional athlete or fitness competitor, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what I recommend:
- Focus mostly on diet. This is, by far, more important than the gym. If you want to hire a professional, I recommend a registered dietician vs. a trainer.
- You don’t need to do more than an hour per day at the gym, 5-6 days per week. I plan to do a whole post about this someday, but seriously, no more than an hour per day, I don’t care what the gym regulars or trainers tell you.
- You should enjoy your cardio workouts. I personally like to learn a new skill through cardio (such as dancing, karate, etc.). I can’t stand to watch the bored people on the cardio machines at the gym. Unless you genuinely enjoy that, don’t be one of them. Find something you enjoy and…
- Know your target heart rate and make sure you’re in it during all cardio sessions.
- Weight training should be straight-forward and simple. There are two books I recommend (pick one, then when you get bored, go to the other) to get started:
- Body Sculpting Bible (the link is for the women’s version, but there’s one for men too). I used to carry this book to the gym with me everyday I was on the program. I used it so much over a couple of years that I destroyed the binding! I love that it shows pictures, and comes with a DVD to show you how to do every exercise.
- Body for Life. Ridiculously simple weight-lifting and cardio program.