Archive for the tag - gym

New to the Gym and in Need of Help?

Hey Davey,

I’m new to the gym and i just wanted to ask a few questions to get me going and get me on the right track. I weigh about 190 lbs. and am 5’11”.

I am mainly going to the gym to turn all this fat into muscle. I go to the gym 5 days a week, and the first thing I want to know is how long will take for me too see results? Also, if I am looking to turn this fat into muscle should I be doing any cardio exercise or should I just focus on the free weights?

Thanks for the great questions – and congratulations on joining a gym. You’ve already taken the hardest step: The first one.

First things first, I don’t mean to split hairs… but, you will never turn any of your body fat into muscle. Fatty tissue and muscle fibers are totally different. When you exercise, you’ll lose the fatty tissue and build muscle. It’s a technicality, but it’s important to understand how the process works.

Secondly, it’s great that you’re feeling ambitious enough to exercise 5 days a week. I generally advise my clients to start with 3 days a week for 30 – 45 minutes. Small changes are sustainable changes, and people that go all out tend to burn out. As I’ve said before, getting into shape is much like running a marathon. You’d never start a marathon by sprinting, and in the same way it’s important to pace yourself and ease into your new lifestyle.

Third, the time line for results varies from person to person. The first changes you’ll notice may be internal. You might have more energy, better sleeping habits or more focus. These changes can happen very quickly – even within a few weeks. You may also notice that you’re less winded when exerting yourself in life – be it climbing stairs, running after a bus, etc. And of course, you’ll notice changes when you look in the mirror, too. The muscles in your arms build fairly quickly, so you’ll probably start noticing a difference with you biceps in as little as 6 weeks. Since most of the changes happen slowly over time, I always advise my clients to take “before” and “after” pictures on a regular schedule. Some changes may be too slow for your eye to notice, but you can easily compare pictures from different months.

Last but not least, it’s extremely important that you do both strength training and cardio. Cardio has a zillion tremendous benefits that you won’t want to miss out on, and in many ways the cardio will complement and improve your performance in the weight room – not to mention overall health. And don’t worry: Moderate cardio does not result in muscle loss.

Again, congratulations on opening this new, healthier chapter in your life! Keep us posted on your success.

Best Tips for Joining a Gym!

Need a spot, sir?

Hundreds of thousands of Americans – and people all around the world – will be joining gyms this week to help uphold health and fitness-centered New Year’s resolutions. As someone who has joined 6 different gyms in 3 different countries in the last year alone, I’ve become something of an expert.

Here are a few tips that I use when joining a gym:

  1. Location, location, location. I spend 90 minutes at the gym, 6 days a week. That’s a lot of time. The last thing I want is to extend my time commitment with a long commute to the gym. Even a 15 minute drive translates to 30 minutes of commuting a day, or 3 extra hours a week. Creating time for exercising is challenge enough – spare yourself the pain of an even larger time commitment by finding a facility near your home, or near your office.
  2. Take your gym for a spin – during the time you’ll usually exercise. You’d test drive a car before buying it, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same with a gym. Ask for a free day pass, and then use it during the time when you’d typically workout. You may discover that the gym is overcrowded at your ideal exercise time. Overcrowded gyms mean longer waits for equipment, and thus longer or incomplete workouts. Trying a gym out will also give you the chance to review the equipment and its condition. Is the gym clean? Are the machines functioning or out of order?
  3. Bargain. Despite what the salesperson tells you, gym rates are usually not set in stone. And know that the person behind the counter is probably working on commission – they are motivated to sell you the most expensive gym membership possible. You can negotiate discounts in monthly rates, and waive sign-up fees. If you’re looking at a few gyms, leverage their rates against each other. Don’t be afraid to bargain. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $250/month depending on the facility and the terms of your contract.
  4. Consider a bulk purchase. Along the lines of bargaining, consider buying a full year’s membership at once. Many gyms offer discounts if you pay it all upfront. It could be a great idea – or a terrible idea if you relocate or stop using your membership.
  5. Review the gym hours and holiday closings. Is the gym even open when you need it to be? When I was living in Buenos Aires, my gym didn’t open until 8AM! As a morning person, I had to bend my schedule considerably to get my workout in. Check on the holiday closings. My current gym is closed during every holiday – even January 1st and 2nd! If you get the various annual holidays off of work, you might want a gym that’s open.
  6. Ask for a class schedule. Maybe you’re interested in trying out yoga, pilates or spinning. Most gyms include free classes in their schedules – it’s all built into your membership, so see what your gym offers!

Use these tips to help find a gym that works for you. And if you have any tips of your own to offer, feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy 2011, and good luck in your gym search!