Friday, January 16, 2009

Navigating the January Gym Jams: top 10 tips

It happens every year. One of the top New Year's Resolutions year in and year out is getting fit and living healthier. Tens of Thousands of Resolve Resolutes join gyms to make it happen. Most of them will be gone by March, but they're here now, and cannot be neglected. Here then, are my 10 top tips for making your workouts effective within the present river of resolutes.

  1. Go Early. Way early. Particularly on the weekends, traffic in the bigger, busier fitness centers doesn't really get annoying until after 9:00AM
  2. Plan for working bodyparts instead of specific exercises. You will regularly bump into unexpected contention for equipment as you navigate through your workout. Make lemonade out of lemons by training the same bodyparts on new/different equipment rather than wasting time waiting around for your 'regular' equipment to free up.
  3. Give your self a bit of extra time to deal with diversion & distractions. More people and less equipment availability will mean more 'hunting' time than normal. Add an extra 10 minutes of time to your workout to handle the unexpected.
  4. Exercise by proximity. As you are finishing up with an exercise, don't look further than you can throw your towel for the next piece. Chance are, if you need to walk more than 50 steps to get to your next exercise, it will be gone by the time you get there.
  5. Don't go too far from your equipment. Be sure to leave a towel & water bottle on your equipment to help mark territory.
  6. Turn around slowly, and always look before turning. Neophytes are unpredictable and carry bars, plates, and dumbbells in unimaginable ways. Save yourself a headache and look before moving.
  7. Perform large and multiple muscle group exercises. They burn more calories and can better optimize your workout time by hitting more muscle tissue. Additionally, they tend to be among the least used pieces of equipment in the gym. Examples here are good old fashioned flat bench bench presses; barbell squats; and Barbell Rows.
  8. Plan to do some cardio both at the start of and at the end of your workout. The warmup and warmdown are both important by themselves, but in planning for two cardio events you'll double your chances of getting the equipment you prefer.
  9. Don't expect that loaded bars are being used. Gym newbies are notorious for leaving bars loaded even after long abandoned. If you see equipment that appears to be abandoned, it probably is. Stand nearby your potential find, and look in 360 degrees for anyone willing to make eye contact with you. If you don't see anyone, just ask someone near you if they've seen anyone on the equipment. If they haven't, consider it yours!
  10. Don't go at all! You'll still need to exercise, but use January and February to broaden your fitness experience with outdoor activities. It's been an outstanding year for both snow (cross country skiing, and snowshoeing) and ice (most outdoor rinks were open 2 weeks early this year).
Or, Give me a call and we'll train you in private to avoid all of the above!

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