Let me start by saying this: I am sorry! Really, I am. First for wrongly thinking that when it comes to fitness, everyone knows what to do. I somehow believed that everyone knows the best times and the right reasons to work out and have just refused to maximize their time. In all the time I championed the importance of working out, I never actually shared practical ways to help you get started.
So today, it is only fitting we touch on the basics. Let’s start with this question from one of my clients.
CoachE’, I have never worked out in my life, but I am willing to start and start gradually. How do I introduce a safe, effective, practical and sustainable workout routine into my life?
PS: I am a busy woman too, so can’t afford anything time-consuming.
Does this sound like you? Then keep reading
Many people think that only people who are trying to lose weight or have extra body fat should workout.
Everyone is invited to the fitness party. If, however, you have never worked out, then you must start small.
The first thing I’ll ask is,what is your why?
Maybe you want to lose weight. Or you just want to get on this fit-fam train. Or maybe your goal is to build muscle or build endurance. It may be that you get tired too easily and you believe that is a sign that even though you are at an ideal weight, you know you are weak. Or maybe, you just want to ‘do it for your heart health’.
After all, we have heard that those who regularly engage in physical activities/exercises live a little longer than those who don’t. Plus, quality of life is also better especially as you age.
Regardless of the reason, understanding your why is instrumental to how far you go. And the good news is, for all beginners, the rules are the same. Start small!!
When is the best time to work out?
I am typing this at noon in Lagos, Nigeria. It is night already in Australia while the early risers in the United States are grabbing their cup of espresso to wake up properly. Across these three time zones, people are working out right about now. Whenever you able to squeeze in a workout is valid. Calories do not tell the time. They just get burned proportionate to your level of physical activity. If as a stay at home mom, the only time your kids allow your fitness routine is 2 pm, then, grab those shoes and workout bras and work it, baby. That was my reality after I had my first child. Studying or working late into the night and suddenly, the spirit of sleep is about to overwhelm you. Yet you still have a lot of ground to cover at 2 am? A good workout at that ‘unholy hour’ will burn some correct calories and wake you up.
The Right Place
Now, about the right place. I recognise that some people cannot afford the time or cash for the gym. But hallelujah!!! You also don’t need the gym to be effective in your workout. You don’t even need a home gym. Can I shock you even more? You don’t even need any fancy equipment to start. All you need is some space and your fabulous self.
When I lost 30kg in about 4months, I didn’t step into a gym for one day. As a new mom without any domestic help, I couldn’t afford gym time. My living room space became my gym. Calories are not location sensitive. Matter of fact, they cannot tell if you are in the toilet, your balcony, or a fancy Gym. All they are reading is your HEART RATE and as that HR goes up, the calories BOW down.
So, the best place for a beginner would be your own space. Your home, living room, balcony and ‘oza room’, wherever you can find space and can easily access and be yourself, even if the only piece of clothing on you is a firm sports bra and some flimsy bottom.
What is the best workout to do?
As a beginner, your goal should be to even start and sustain fitness as a lifestyle. Cardio or aerobic workouts are usually the best places to start. So yes, to indoor workouts like skipping, jumping jacks, butt kicks, high knees. All easy moves Brother Google can help you figure out. Or good old dance/aerobic videos right on YouTube.
Please don’t start with 30 minutes. 10 minutes is a welcome start, and don’t worry if you find that you have to stop and rest every 2minutes. It is fine.
You are just starting, and it will get better, as long as you are willing to challenge yourself.
I have had clients start with a clumsy 100 skips and today have gone up to 4000 skips in a single workout session. No need deciding to start with 1000 skips. I recall when I started doing Jumping jacks, the instruction was to do 500. Instead of me to begin with 100, I started with 500 straight. I had injuries (partly cos I did it barefooted too).
When I got on YouTube, I typed 10 minutes cardio in the search bar. That was how I discovered Keaira LaShea. She has a lot of 10 to 15-minute dance workout videos that get the job done.
Alternatively, you could go right outside for a run, jog or just walk.
You should also try to warm up before and stretch after your workout session. This reduces the risk of injury and any muscle soreness you may feel. The best warm-up would be to jog on or around a spot for at least 2 minutes, while you can google post-workout stretches and follow the illustrations.
Finally, what are the extras and even nice-to-haves to get the best out of your workout?
First, you need the right mindset towards this. Understand that no matter how many beginner tips you get, it would still cost you something and not be altogether conducive all the time. but you can do hard things. Or like this quote, I saw on a Client’s workout tee, suck it up, princess.
Other Things You Need
You also need the right shoes and a bra. These two are a must-have to avoid both injury and pain especially breast and shoulder pain. If you are heavy around the bust, wear a regular bra and a sports bra. Watch the straps. If uncomfortable or piercing into the skin, pad it with something soft. For shoes, please get those with padded soles. Function over aesthetics, please. And if you find one that has both qualities, woohoo!
Now, when it comes to fitness clothes, fancy and matching workout wears are a nice-to-have. But when I was starting out, I couldn’t afford any. So I wore old tee shirts, and leggings and wham, I was good to go. I lost 30kg without any fancy workout wears. Plus, since you are working out at home, the only audience, if any, are familiar.
Heart rate monitors and Fitness trackers are also a nice-to-have but absolutely not compulsory. I only got one after almost 2 years of working out to track among other things, my daily steps and ensure I hit the recommended 10,000 steps for a healthy heart. Being the Ijebu that I am, I got one that also doubled as my wristwatch. Two for the price of one.
How about dumbbells? Hmm. I would say to rip those arms, please get a pair. However, if you cannot afford it, I have a DIY option. Grab 2 big plastic bottles. At least 2L. pour in wet sand to increase its density and weight. Voila, there you have your 1.5 to 2kg dumbbell pairs.
You are welcome.
Oh, and one more thing I really cannot do without, especially outdoor, or in the gym when I go there? Music! So, I have a music playing device and headphones. Because working out is more exciting when you burn to the beat.
Write me if you have more questions as a beginner.