Lately I have noticed that there are two busy seasons for fitness professionals and gyms. The one we are most familiar with is New Years. The post holiday rush, filled with the promise of a “new year, new you” and the regret of post holiday over consumption brings a lot of new faces to the gym.

The Fit Truth: You Must Strength Train
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image by ericmcgregor

The second one, I have found, is right about now. It starts just after Memorial Day as the weather is getting warmer and people are starting to venture to lakes and beaches. They are pulling out clothes from last summer that suddenly don’t fit or they put on their bathing suit for the first time of the season and are suddenly very body conscious.

I would like to offer some advice to those of you who are starting a fitness program for the first time (or perhaps restarting one after a long absence).

These are my top 5 new to fitness mistakes.

  1. Not having a plan.
    If you don’t have a clear goal and clear objectives to meeting these goals, including a workout plan that is designed to help you meet your goals, you will just end up being frustrated. Make a plan, seeking the help of a professional ideally, document it and stick to it.
  2. Overdoing it.
    Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is very normal when starting a new workout. Generally it lasts two to three days then subsides. However, I see many people flushed with new found enthusiasm try to lift too much or go too far who end up feeling it for many days, even weeks. This can lead to injury and creates a negative feeling from exercise instead of a positive one. Ease into it, take it slow at first. Concentrate on getting the basics right before moving into complex or lengthy workouts.
  3. Trying to be a morning exerciser if you’re not a morning person.
    This also applies to those who commit to an after work workout and are not naturally energetic at that time. Don’t try to force yourself to be something you aren’t, at least in the beginning. Over time your commitment to health and fitness might change those patterns, I know it did for me. When asked what time is the best time to work out, I always say the time you will actually do it.
  4. Not sharing your goals with those closest to you.
    If you are really going to make this work you have to get a buy in from your spouse or significant other. You need their support or at the very least they have to be aware of your goals so they don’t accidently derail you.
  5. Working out hard but still eating junk.
    In my opinion the biggest part of the battle is your nutrition. You can’t out train a bad diet, so starting an exercise program and changing your nutritional habits go hand in hand.  Running 30 minutes then eating a muffin and drinking a giant whipped coffee drink will not get you where you want to go.

For those of you out there who are not new to fitness, what would you like to share that you wish someone had told you when you started your journey? I would love to hear your stories and advice.

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