How to get fit and healthy in 2014

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Hands-up who is preparing to make a resolution to get fit? Put them down, that’s enough exercise for now.

January is the peak month for new gym memberships, as the last of the Christmas selection boxes are finished and the New Year brings a renewed determination that this is the year to get fit, lose weight or just get out more.

Unfortunately, New Year resolutions are as notorious as Hollywood marriages as far as lasting commitment goes.

So how do you make the fitness bug stick for more than five minutes?

Edinburgh Leisure, which runs 30 venues on behalf of the city council, is hoping its January promotion will do exactly that as it aims to inspire more people than ever to get active and stay active beyond February. It is running a cashback offer, promising new members who visit twice a week for eight consecutive weeks will receive their joining fee (£35) back.

David Mclean, fitness manager at Edinburgh Leisure, says: “We want to do more than just get new members in every January – we want to inspire the people of Edinburgh to enjoy a healthier lifestyle in the long term.

“Evidence consistently shows that individuals need to take about 21 actions for a new behaviour to become a habit. After a couple of months of regular exercise, new members start to feel confident in the gym or swimming pool or class, rather than feeling like they are ‘new.’ We want to help encourage people in the right direction and to stick out those challenging first few weeks with the cashback reward.

“There are many common mistakes people make with a New Year’s resolution to get fit, such as pushing themselves too hard or doing the wrong sort of activity for them. We want to help people get into a lifestyle that works for them and it will be more likely to last long term.”

So to help you on the way, here are some do’s and don’ts on your New Year fitness plan, compiled by Edinburgh Leisure’s REP qualified Gym Instructors.

DO

• Take your time getting familiar with all the equipment and facilities. It may take four to five visits to feel fully up to speed with everything and what you like best so relax, take your time.

• Set realistic, achievable goals at first suited to your current fitness levels.

• Ask your gym instructor for advice. The first month of training should be about getting into the swing of it and making activity part of your new healthier lifestyle.

• Remember your stretching – this is essential before and after working out or it could be painful!

• Individualise your fitness plan – what works for some is not right for others.

• Find what you enjoy – you may love the rush of a gym workout, or prefer zumba, yoga, tennis or even climbing. We are lucky to be spoiled for choice in Edinburgh. To be inspired visit www.
edinburghleisure.co.uk

• Break any larger longer-term goals – such as losing weight, or training for a marathon – into a number of smaller goals achievable in a shorter time. Then increase the challenge as you build up your experience.

• Finding time to exercise can be a challenge so plan ahead – work out the best days and times that fit into your life and get it in your diary. Tell your boss/partner/friends you are unavailable those times.

• Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Overeating will hamper your exercise efforts, but so will starving yourself.

• Review your progress every three to four weeks. It can be easy to sometimes fall into a routine, which reduces benefits.

• Imagine how you would like to look and feel for a particular event – such as a wedding or holiday. Visualise how energised you will feel, or what fun it will be shopping for a dress with new found body confidence.

• Give yourself small rewards for each goal achieved. If you’ve stuck at it for a month that’s brilliant – Have a day off and relax in the Turkish baths. If you feel your jeans are a bit looser, treat yourself to a pub lunch. If you’re brimming with new self confidence, hit the High Street!

DON’T

• Worry if you’re nervous. It is natural to feel self-conscious at first, but there’s no need to be. You’ll probably find it much more friendly than you imagine, and once you get into the swing of it you’ll wonder what you ever worried about.

• Expect instant results – this can cause frustration and disappointment. Be patient and you’ll reap the rewards.

• Overdo it – your body needs time to recover between workouts.

• Set excessive weekly attendance goals. Try monthly instead – for example, aim to visit ten times a month instead of three times a week. This allows for the fact that life is complicated, so if work or family takes over one week and you only make it twice, you won’t feel too disheartened – make it up next week and you can still achieve your monthly goal.

• Force yourself to do something you hate. If there’s a particular machine you don’t like or exercise class you didn’t enjoy it’s ok –there are plenty of other activities to choose from.

• Burn yourself out! If you’re to gung ho at first, working out at optimum level several times a week, this is unsustainable! Far better to start with a couple of short sessions a week and then step up the pace as your fitness level increases.

• Get caught in a rut – there’s nothing like a boring fitness regime to put you off. Mix it up, try different things now and then, and remember the gym instructors are there to advise you with new ideas as your fitness improves.

• Be hard on yourself if you miss one workout or have a blowout. This does not mean you have “failed” – just stay positive and get back to the gym soon.

• Put all your faith in the scales – feeling like you won’t have a heart attack running for a bus or walking up a few sets of stairs with more ease than previously is more important that what the scales say. Your body shape will change before you see drastic weight loss on scales. However, clothes will feel looser and you’ll feel better! Stay focused and you will get fitter in 2014!