Now that we’ve all had our fill of queso de bola, hamon, lechon, and all the other dishes that Filipinos love to binge on during the holidays, perhaps most of us are eager to hit the gym and shed those extra pounds.
While it would be great to make like Adrianna Lima and just box our way into a Victoria’s Secret-worthy body, there’s more to a successful gym regimen than flailing your limbs about and trying to last more than thirty seconds (not that I’ve ever done that, don’t look at me).
So, what sort of preparation do you need to do to make the most out of your gym sessions (i.e., so that your expensive new membership doesn’t go to waste)? Read on.
1. The right snack.
Eating right should go hand in hand with a fitness routine if you want the best results. It might be tempting to drastically cut down on your calories before going to the gym to lose weight faster, but you don’t want to exercise on an empty stomach. (I tried that once, and I ended up in the emergency room. Seriously, don’t try it, guys.)
It’s all about eating just enough to give you the energy you need to power through a workout. Complex carbohydrates are great for slow-releasing energy, so a slice of whole-wheat bread with a spoonful of low-fat peanut butter and a few banana slices is a good pre-exercise snack.
On the other hand, don’t stuff yourself lest you get stomach cramps while exercising. Or gas. (How embarrassing!)
2. The right clothes.
You might be used to wearing oversized tees and baggy jogging pants from your P.E. days, but garments that are more fitted actually give you better support in the gym because they won’t get in the way of your movements.
Breathable, lightweight fabrics are also ideal, and cropped leggings or well-fitting shorts provide both effortless comfort and style. For the ladies, ditch the Instagram peg (i.e., going to the gym with a full face of make-up on) and invest in a couple of good sports bras for added support.
Lastly, go for durable, multi-purpose trainers to complete your gym outfit, although these may not be necessary if you’ll be engaging in something like muay thai or pilates where you could be barefoot most of the time.
3. The right time.
If you are a gym newbie, it might be daunting to do your stuff before a room full of regulars. Even if they’re all probably concentrating on doing their own thing, their presence alone might be too distracting for you to focus on your own workout. That, and you’ll probably have to line up for gym machines or fight over a locker in the changing room when there are so many people working out.
So, if you’re the sort of person who wants to work out in peace, avoid hitting the gym between the hours of 8-10 in the morning and 5:30 to 7 pm at night.
4. The right exercise program.
Not all gyms are made equal. Each one has their own way of helping clients accomplish their fitness goals, and you need to see if your chosen gym’s approach meets your needs before you commit.
To do that, go for a one-off course or a trial session. Most fitness centers these days offer a variety of these, so be sure to take advantage of them. If you like what they have to offer, great. Go ahead and sign up.
If not, simply try another gym. You shouldn’t feel obligated to apply for membership if they don’t have what you’re looking for.
5. The right pace.
After watching a couple of “The Secret” videos (Is that book still in vogue?), you may want to go in there with all guns blazing.
That, however, is a recipe for sabotaging your commitment (and possibly injuring yourself).
Going from Santa Claus body double to gym rat should be a process, so take baby steps. Work on building your routine and perfecting your form first. Have your trainer teach you the proper techniques and breathing so that you have the right foundation.
Don’t push yourself too hard, and be sure to stretch before and after you work out.
6. The right gear.
Because any gym worth its salt should have adequate equipment, I’m talking about what should be in your gym bag.
Everyone has their own ideas about what you should pack before hitting the gym, and you’ll probably come up with your own checklist after a while, but essentials typically include the following:
a.) Towels, preferably two so you can use one to wipe away sweat during intervals and another one for the shower;
b.) A water bottle (don’t ever exercise without one nearby);
d.) A couple of elastic bands to keep your hair out of your face;
e.) Toiletries like shampoo, soap, and deodorant (!) and a change of clothes;
f.) A few plasters in case you injure yourself.
7. The right attitude.
Exercise is as much mental as it is physical. Doing all those drills would be difficult in the beginning, but they do get easier each day as you get stronger. Depending on how much weight you gained during the holidays, attaining your desired figure could take a while, but it’s important to try and enjoy the journey too.
One way to make working out more enjoyable is to invite a friend to join you. Not only will you feel less alone, but having a gym buddy will also force you to show up on days when you don’t feel like it.
Anything worth having won’t come easy, whether it’s a stable bank account, a fulfilling relationship, or even a killer body. What’s great about that, though, is that you’ll end up with a better attitude and a stronger sense of self-discipline along with that swimsuit-ready figure, provided that you do things right.