Fit4Review’s premiere entry

So what’s my story?

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I’ve always been small. For most of my life I was oblivious to what it meant to be body conscious because my appearance just wasn’t something I worried about, but when I came to college I started going to the gym and it really changed my life. In the beginning, my goals were centered around losing weight and being ever smaller. (Looking back on that now, I just want to slap myself for ever feeling that way.) But, thankfully, I grew out of that phase. Though it took about 2 years, I eventually realized that aiming primarily to lose weight was not only demotivating, but it was pretty unhealthy for someone my size.

After I moved past my unhealthy goals, I hit what I’ll call the research phase. I started focusing more on my health and this is when I began realizing that fitness isn’t temporary; it’s a lifestyle. (Or at least, it’s meant to be.) I really started embracing the fact that a healthy diet is a crucial part of fitness, and as soon as I started truly caring about the things I was consuming, it became so much easier. I did a lot of research during this time about how to grocery shop both healthily and on a budget. I researched exercises, styles of working out, what works best, etc. etc. I learned quite a bit, but am always thirsty to learn more. This is about when my life started to kind of revolve around my fitness, and when I decided that I wanted to be a personal trainer after graduation.

From then to now, I’ve pretty well educated myself about healthy eating and I’ve done well with changing my diet. With that huge improvement being made, I am now focusing more on my gym time. My current goals are, I guess you could say, ‘body building.’ But I use that term very loosely. I’m not trying to bulk up to any significant degree, but I am spending more of my workouts lifting, aiming to define and build my muscles, and I’m incorporating much more protein into my diet. (Often in the form of powders.)

With all that said, it feels incredibly good to be at this point. No longer am I forcing myself to go to the gym or torturing myself with healthier foods. I absolutely love going to the gym. It’s essential to my day, and I wish I could go more than just once a day sometimes. And as far as the healthy diet goes, it doesn’t even feel like I’m being strict anymore. I really enjoy eating the way I do, and (since weight loss is no longer my goal) when I eat something bad for me, it’s not the end of the world. I feel more energized on a daily basis, and I feel really good about the fact that healthiness has become a staple of my persona. That’s something I’d always striven for in the past.

So now I’ve got some experience and some knowledge under my belt, and I’d like to share that with anyone who’s interested. A lot of times when you visit fitness blogs you’ll usually find one of two things; (1) a whole bunch of technical terms or names for things that you’ve never heard before, or (2) someone’s personal journey. But this blog is different. I’m not here to intimidate you with all the technical terms for muscle groups and the exercises that target them, or you break your confidence by telling you just how much I can squat or bench. And I’m most certainly not going to bore you with my own fitness journey. What I am here for is to educate and motivate you for your own fitness journey…

Now that my story is out of the way, and you all have a pretty good idea of where I’m coming from, here is my first piece of motivation for you:

THE GYM IS FOR EVERYONE. I’ve heard too many people say that they’re afraid to go to the gym by themselves. It’s usually either because they’re intimidated by the amount of people there, the amount of different machines, the fact that they’ve never been there before, or because they feel like they don’t really know what they’re doing. Well, speaking from experience, I know that feel, bro. I used to be embarrassed to go to the gym by myself, and I especially used to be embarrassed to go into the free-weight area that I like to call testosterone city. But, let me tell you a few things…

First and foremost, the chances that anyone is paying attention to you at the gym are VERY SLIM. Just about everyone around you will be too busy paying an excessive amount of attention to themselves. We’re all guilty of (at least a bit of) narcissism while we’re working out.

Secondly, if you’re interested in cardio, things are pretty self-explanatory. You hop on a machine and go at whatever intensity suits your fancy. But that’s not what seems to intimidate people. The machines and the free weights do that. But, if you work yourself up to it, it becomes a lot less scary. For example, if you’re not comfortable with going into the free weight section, the machines are an excellent alternative. They provide more support for your body, and they give step by step instructions on their panels. As long as you walk up to a machine and read that label, you should be able to figure it out. Don’t worry about looking a little confused at first; everyone’s been there. In fact, every time I switch gyms (which is oddly pretty often) I have to sort of re-learn how to use certain machines, so I’ll be standing there pulling and pushing on things trying to figure out how it works. So, honestly, even people who frequent the gym can still look clueless sometimes.

Whenever you’re ready to move into the free weight area the best advice I can give you is to be confident. First of all, like I said, there’s a pretty good chance that no one’s paying attention to you. Secondly, free weights are an EXCELLENT work out. Not only are you exercising the muscles you’re targeting, but you’re body is working to stabilize itself (something it doesn’t have to do on machines). And lastly, everyone has to start from somewhere. As long as you’re lifting to your maximum potential, there’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. The best way I’ve found to learn and get comfortable with free weight exercises is to watch other people do them. When I first started lifting, I really only knew the most basic exercises; bicep curls, variations of the curl, bench press. etc. But over time, I watched people, I tried what I saw them doing, and I worked my way up to being comfortable with it. Almost 100% of my lifts are composed of exercises I got from eyeballing other people.

But here is where I have to throw in a little friendly, and repetitive, advice; PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FORM. The quickest and easiest way to hurt yourself, and to draw attention to yourself, is by having bad form. If you’re unsure of the proper way to do a free weight exercise then either 1) ask someone, 2) find a machine that works the same muscles, or 3) DON’T DO IT. An exercise done with poor form is likely doing nothing for you and could actually be hurting you.

You may be surprised at how willing people will be to give you a little help or to answer your questions at the gym. In addition to asking, here is a website that gives an extensive list of exercise and how to do them properly: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html

And lastly, if you are intimidated by the gym because you ‘feel like you don’t know what you’re doing,’ then I empower you to LEARN. Do your research, ask me questions, seek guidance from a personal trainer, read a few articles, find other fitness blogs, etc. There are so many available ways to educate yourself. Choose a goal you want to work toward and find out the most effective way to achieve it. But, at the same time, even if you don’t have any specific goal in mind GOING TO THE GYM WILL NOT HURT YOU. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. I encourage everyone to go to the gym, or to workout in some way. Once a week, five times a week. Aiming to lose fat, build muscle, or just be more active. It doesn’t matter; anything is better than nothing.

There are far too many positive side effects of regular exercise to ignore.
Go get fit! 😀

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