Five Tips to Ease into Fitness this Year

January is a popular month for many to head back to the gym and get back to some kind of health and wellness routine. Whether you’re new to exercise or just getting back at it now that the holidays are over, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Go Slow!

It’s tempting to jump into a fitness class or new exercise regime with lots of gusto and enthusiasm, but we encourage you to take it easy. Remember, it’s hard to get fit in just one class! It takes time for your body to adjust and respond to the new demands that have been placed on it. Whether you’re attending our FITMOM and Baby, FITWOMAN or FITFamily classes, you’ll be encouraged to take breaks when you’re tired or reduce the number of reps you’re doing, especially if you’ve just had a baby. It’s important to listen to your body so that you can build strength and stamina over time. Keep your intensity low and follow a slower progression towards higher weight loads and repetitions over a period of 5 - 10 sessions. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of experiencing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), will allow you to avoid overexertion and will reduce your risk of injury.

Schedule your First 5 to 10 Workouts in your Calendar.

The key to success and maintaining a healthy new fitness routine, is to schedule your workouts in your calendar. This may seem like a really silly thing to do, but we tend to only prioritize what we write down! Scheduling your workouts will also help to shape your routine so that you can create new habit - just like washing your face or brushing your teeth everyday. The more ingrained your routine becomes, the more consistent you will be. You may also want to consider a back up plan for when you need to miss a scheduled workout. What will you do instead? Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Go for a power walk

  • Do a 15 minute dance session

  • Follow a short online workout (like this one that FITMOM Durham shared in the summer!)

It’s more important to do something - even if it’s less intense than your usual workout, just to stay consistent.

Recover Smart!

The amazing human body adapts so beautifully to the demands that exercise places on muscles, tissues, joints and ligaments, but it’s also important to allow time to properly recover between sessions. Recovery allows the body to replenish energy storage and repair following your workout effort. Remember to replenish your fluids, eat foods that aid in recovery and rest (never underestimate the value of sleep and rest, since this is when the body is truly changing and adapting!). If you’re new to exercise, you may want to avoid back-to-back workout sessions to help minimize the risk of injury. Walking, dynamic stretching or using a foam roller between workouts, can be very helpful for your body’s recovery.

Follow the FITT Principle

The guidelines shared in the table below are general programming guidelines that apply to most healthy adults. For postpartum women (which is pretty much all women who have had been pregnant!), we also include the following guiding principles:

  • Obtain clearance from your health care provider before resuming or beginning an exercise program (this usually happens at your 6 week post partum checkup)

  • Begin slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout. The goal is to become consistent, not to earn a badge for getting their in the fastest way possible!

  • Start early, with walking or light exercise, several times a week

  • Avoid excessive fatigue and dehydration

  • Wear a supportive bra

  • Stop any exercise session if unusual pain occurs

  • Eat healthy meals, primarily made up of proteins, fruits and vegetables

  • Address core function by building a strong foundation of pelvic floor and core health. See a pelvic floor physio during pregnancy or in your early post partum recovery period to be sure everything is healthy. Complete a self assessment to check for abdominal separation or have one of your FITMOM coaches teach you how to do it

  • Ease into fitness - it’s recommended that you have 4 to 6 weeks of strength training BEFORE attempting any plyometric training (this means keeping both feet on the ground) AND that your core is functioning well and can handle the increased intensity.

  • Be aware that the risk of injury (especially in activities that require quick reactions) is higher during the prenatal and post natal recovery period due to the presence of the hormone relaxin, which causes laxity and looseness in joints and ligaments.

Remember your WHY!

What made you decide to become more active? Think about that goal/reason and celebrate each workout you do that brings you closer to your goal or desired outcome. Instead of focusing on weight loss, try paying more attention to how you feel during and after each workout.

  • Do you notice an increase in stamina?

  • Can you complete more repetitions than when you first began?

  • Do you notice that your intensity level is increasing as your body adapts to the demands and effort you place on it during each workout?

These are often the first results people observe in themselves (as opposed to weight loss) and research shows that when the emphasis is on these types of outcomes, people are more likely to be successful in maintaining an active lifestyle. Yay for that!

As we all embark on a more active and healthy 2019, we hope that you keep these best practices in mind on your own fitness journey. Being smart about exercise planning will not only help you reach your goals, but even better, it will keep you motivated to maintain your new routine!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019!

This table is adapted from the American Council on Exercise - Personal Trainer Manual, Fifth Edition 2014, pages 90-91

This table is adapted from the American Council on Exercise - Personal Trainer Manual, Fifth Edition 2014, pages 90-91