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The Gymtimidation is Real

Published January 2022 | In Winter 2021

Many people quit their new fitness routine long before they see results — but a lot of times it's simply because they don't like their gym.

The Gymtimidation is Real Media

The Sports Performance Institute Powered by EXOS is a unique facility within Monument Health's Orthopedic and Specialty Hospital that deals with preventative medicine, rather than diagnostic. The goal at SPI is to use training and nutrition to reach your peak performance and transform the way you look and feel every day.

Kyle Wheeldon is a Performance Coach at Sports Performance Institute who enjoys helping people reach their goals no matter their fitness level. He wants to make every person that comes to SPI comfortable with the facility and with the staff, and also to help them figure out the schedule that will work best for them.

“Find a gym where people know what they’re doing,” Kyle said. “Whether that’s here or somewhere else in town, a good gym will have staff that are willing to help you learn your way around and set you up for success.”

Exercises like running or swimming increase our cardiovascular health, but steady-state cardio is only one part of the equation. Strength training and HIIT are also important, and while it can be intimidating for beginners, it's a crucial part of a fitness routine.

“If you come in and do a steady-state cardio workout and burn 300 calories, that’s great, but afterwards the metabolic rate returns to baseline. There’s nothing else going on when your body is at rest,” Kyle said. “If you lift weights and burn 200 calories, it seems like less, but you’re doing is stimulating growth. For the next 48 to 72 hours your body is repairing tissues, joints and ligaments, which takes energy. It can be anywhere from a 10 to 12 percent increase in caloric expenditure while you’re at rest for that time period than if you had just done steady-state cardio, so a combination is important.”

It’s not just you

Once you’ve decided to make fitness part of your routine, it’s time to find a gym or workout program that fits your lifestyle. Whether you choose a facility like SPI, a local gym or something specialized like a yoga studio, there are a few hurdles to look out for.

The first is the tendency to be intimidated by a new gym. Studies show that one of the top reasons people quit a new fitness program is not because they aren’t seeing results; most quit because they are uncomfortable with their gym or fitness program. Anyone can be intimidated by a new gym, even people who have worked out for years.

“I don’t think it’s centered so much around the gym as it is about something new, or things we aren’t used to. We tend to get uncomfortable in new situations.” Kyle said.

To help avoid this, do some research before joining. Look at the hours they’re open, if they offer group classes or one-on-one training and how close the gym is to your home or place of work. Most gyms offer free tours for prospective members, and it’s a great way to get a feel for whether or not the gym matches your personality. It also helps you feel more comfortable the first time you go to actually work out, since you’re already familiar with the space.

“I’m a big fan of the community inside the gym, and not just the equipment or the classes,” Kyle said. “What keeps people coming back is the environment. When you come in and the staff knows your name and asks about how your family is doing, that’s what sets gyms apart.”

Establish your goals

A regular fitness routine is an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Whether you want to lose weight, improve muscle tone or increase your cardiorespiratory endurance, it’s important to consider why you’re starting. New Year's resolutions may include goals, but they seldom last long enough to see results. It isn’t necessarily because you lack motivation or stamina; a lot of times it’s because we haven’t set a goal that’s practical, or have no idea how to go about attaining it.

“Start out by making a big goal like, ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by summer,’” suggested Kyle. “But then make smaller goals that will get you there, dealing with your daily habits. If you can build those sustainable habits, that’s when you really start seeing lifestyle changes and lasting results.”

You’ve settled into an exercise routine, but now your results are flatlining. Or maybe you haven’t started yet, but you’ve quit exercising in the past because of stagnating results. Kyle has three tips to help you avoid a plateau in your fitness goals.

First: Start simple. When a lot of people start their fitness journey they think they need more than they really do. A basic fitness program for someone just starting out is about three days a week, including a full body workout and some cardio to start. If you start out with an advanced, six-days-a-week program, you’ll plateau sooner because you’ve left yourself nowhere to go but to a more advanced program.

Second: Talk to someone who’s qualified. I recommend someone who has an exercise science degree, but even someone who’s been training themselves for two or three years can answer questions
and get you started.

Third: Remember fitness and health are cumulative. You have 23 hours a day you’re not in the gym. All the work you’ve just put in
can be for nothing if you don't also adjust some lifestyle habits. If you’re not eating and sleeping well, the time you spend in the gym won’t be effective.

Most people who set out to lose weight will succeed, but the majority of them will also put that weight back on shortly after losing it. A common culprit is changing too many habits at once, or making unsustainable changes. Elimination diets and fitness crazes are popular on social media and TV because of quick results. Unfortunately most of them are hard — or downright impossible — to sustain over the long term.

Instead, Kyle recommends making small, sustainable changes to your daily routine. “For example, you could say ‘I’m going to eat four cups of vegetables a day to help me lose weight.’ First of all, you won’t be very hungry eating that many vegetables, which will help you get to your goal. But more importantly, by doing that every day and sticking with it, it becomes something you just do without thinking about it. That’s what will help you reach your goals, and also maintain them,” Kyle explained.

Set up a routine

Once you’ve decided what your goals are, you can look into the best fitness routine to help you achieve them.

Starting with an advanced program like those shared on social media by fitness influencers may get you immediate results, but they can be harder to maintain in the long run. Not to mention, they can also make your progress plateau much earlier than if you start at a more appropriate level.

“Start where you’re at — not where somebody else is,” Kyle said. “A lot of times we see other people who are super fit and want to do what they’re doing, but what you don’t see is that person has been training 15 years longer than you have. So what they’re doing now isn’t what they did to get started, so you shouldn’t begin with it either.”

For most people just starting out, a fitness routine doesn’t have to be complicated or use a lot of equipment. It’s more about finding something you’ll enjoy enough to continue doing, as well as finding a gym or workout space that fits you. If you're comfortable in your routine, you're more likely to succeed.

  • Take a tour. Everyone is intimidated by a place they’ve never been before, even if they’ve worked out for years. A tour will introduce you to your new gym and the people who work there.
  • Take a buddy. Doing something with another person makes it less intimidating, not to mention more fun. Plus, having an accountability partner has been shown to increase the likelihood of committing to a new fitness routine.
  • Ask the experts. No matter what gym you go to, there will always be someone who can show you the ropes. Whether it’s a personal trainer or someone else who works at your gym, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Adding small habits to your daily routine means you’re more likely to stick with them. Exercising at the same time every day is also beneficial as it will help you treat fitness as a priority, rather than trying to squeeze it in at the last minute.

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