Expert Q&A: I’m an exercise newbie, how do I get started?

Whether you’ve never really done planned exercise before or you’re just returning back into it after a long absence, it’s good to have the right gear and get a little guidance to help you into the swing of things. If you set yourself up well right at the beginning, you’re more likely to succeed so don’t be afraid to ask questions from those in the know to make sure you get off to a great start with your new exercise regime.

Q. I’m an exercise newbie, what do I need to get started?

A. You don’t need much at all! In the way of gear, a small workout towel is a good idea to wipe off sweat (on either yourself or the equipment), and if you need to lie down on the ground you can pop the towel down first. Also make sure you have a drink bottle for water to make sure you don’t get dehydrated – it should be 750mL or more, those mini bottles aren’t really big enough!

Other than that, comfy breathable workout clothes and a pair of training shoes with good support for your feet are all that you need for most workouts.

As for the exercise itself, anything that gets you moving without pain is a good start. If you’re at home, you can use exercise DVDs, go walking or jogging around the block, or if you would like a bit more guidance, search on the internet for a mobile personal trainer in your area and ask them to give you a beginner’s programme that you can do at home. Some community halls, martial arts schools and dance schools have classes you can attend where you won’t have to commit to an ongoing membership and can just pay whenever you want to take the class.

If you’re taking a class for the first time and you’re a bit concerned you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t worry as everyone in that room will have been a beginner at some stage! Often exercise classes take a good 3-4 sessions to get used to the instructor’s callouts and for you to get a better idea of the class structure, so don’t give up if you feel a little uncoordinated to begin with. Don’t be afraid to turn up five minutes early to a class and introduce yourself to the instructor as someone new to the class, you’ll feel better once you ‘know’ someone in the room, they will know to give you beginner’s options if they don’t usually, and they may be able to give you hints and tips on surviving the class.

If you have a gym membership, most gyms will have some kind of introductory lessons – either one-on-one or in small groups – that will give you a basic plan to start you off and teach you how to perform the exercises safely so you can avoid injury. Gym instructors wander around the floor to help and answer questions, but they are incredibly underutilised by gym-goers! If you have any questions, call them over and ask them. You could also arrange to have a one-on-one session with a personal trainer to give you a programme or a few sessions at the gym so you get more familiar with the equipment if the free introductory lessons are unavailable or you require a more personalised plan (especially important if you have any injuries).

Image / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – David Castillo Dominici

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