Sometimes in a busy day there just isn’t time to do a full workout or get to the gym.
But you CAN do something.
Just a few minutes here and there can make the difference between maintaining your fitness and losing it.
And in any case, you’ll feel so much better about yourself if you do the best you can and don’t give up your fitness efforts entirely on those busy days we all have.
Here’s all the you have to do
- At the start of the day, climb 5 sets of stairs – they can be 5 flights at work or mean going up and down stairs at home 5 times. (Alternative: step on and off one step for 5 – 10 minutes)
- At morning break, take a 10 minute walk (or do your stair routine again)
- After lunch, another 10 minutes (take a longer walk if you can then)
- After dinner, 10 or more minutes walk (or more stairs).
There – that means you’ve fitted in 30 – 40 minutes exercise without taking up much of your day at all and you’ll find the mini breaks from your work do you good too.
And if even that is too much then try my whole body fitness course Fitness in No Time which involves only 10 minutes exercise 3 times a week!
It’s not that easy choosing a gym.
Even though I don’t go to the gym any more, I was once a member of a great gym which had a spa attached. It was just round the corner from my office – handy for fitting in a session at lunchtime or after work (even before work when I was really keen).
And when you walked through the door you could smell the aromatherapy oils from the spa and feel like you were entering a new world. Solid wood lockers, fluffy towels and a calm atmosphere. A little bit of luxury as a reward for working on YOU.
If that gym had been crowded and chaotic, dirty and unfriendly there’s no way I would have gone so often (if at all). With this gym, I only stopped going because I left work and it was too far to get across town.
So if you want to join a gym, it’s important to make the right choice.
1. Don’t Go Only on Price
Although you have to weigh up the monthly cost against your budget, if you never actually go to a cheap gym because the whole experience is unpleasant, it’s not a bargain offer. Be sure and check the joining fee and additional costs for classes and so on when considering your budget but also think about whether you’ll get value for money by wanting to go there three or more times a week.
2. Make Sure it’s Convenient
Choose a gym which is close to your home or office – that way you’re not going to waste an hour (or spend a small fortune in gas) getting there and back every time you go.
3. Look at the Equipment
Does the gym have plenty of the type of equipment you prefer? Is the equipment clean and well maintained? Is there plenty of space between each machine? (There’s nothing worse than heavy breathing right in your ear from the machine next to you).
Also, are you paying for facilities you will never use? My gym had a great pool which I NEVER used (swimming is not my thing). Others cost more because they have tennis or squash facilities attached – worth it only if you like these sports and will play regularly.
Some facilities such as air-conditioning and water coolers are essential. Others make going to the gym a pleasure (or less of a chore). Can you watch your favorite show while you work out? Check that you are able to choose what you view if the gym offers this and that all TVs are not fixed to a few channels – the ones the instructors like…
4. Consider the Classes
Are fitness classes included in the membership? Does it have a range of classes to suit you? What is the system for booking (and cancelling if you have an ever-changing schedule)? Are they oversubscribed/crowded?
5. Visit at Peak Times
Many gyms which are an oasis of calm during the day get hectic in the peak hours after work. Visit the gym during the times you will use it to get an idea of what YOU will experience as a member.
6. Look at the Opening Hours
Make sure that your gym is open when you want to use it. Some gyms close at weekends. Others may not stay open as late as you need or open early to fit in a session before work (if that’s when you like to work out).
7. Check out the Changing Rooms
Are they clean and well-maintained? Are there enough lockers and showers? Are there facilities for drying hair etc?
8. Ask about the Instructors
Are there plenty of instructors around? Are they qualified? Find out how the gym helps new members get to know the equipment. At my gym every new member had an initial 1-to-1 session with a personal trainer to create a tailored program and teach them how to use the equipment. And a session every month or two to update their program.
9. Consider the Atmosphere
While you’re checking everything out on your visit, you’ll get a feel for whether you’re comfortable in a gym. Are you happy enough with the people, the place, and the atmosphere enough to want to go?
Some gyms are geared more towards bodybuilders, some towards casual exercisers, some towards women. At some you will feel comfortable in your old sweats. At others you have to wear the latest gear to avoid being looked down on. Will you fit in? This is also where small details like flowers in reception, good music or friendly staff can mean a lot in making your visit a pleasure.
10. Do A Trial Run
Never sign up for a long commitment without giving your chosen gym a proper try for at least a day (Buy a day pass if they don’t allow a free trial). Then, if possible, sign up for 1 to 3 months and give the gym a true test. If you are still enjoying your visits after that time you have found a good gym for you.
Try and make your choice without being pushed into anything. I know that many gyms employ pushy sales reps to try and get you to commit before you’re ready and to push you to buy additional services. Forewarned is forearmed.
Here are a couple of articles about this by the Consumerist
1. Follow a Training Plan
If you have an effective and well thought out plan to follow (which matches your level of fitness) you are more likely to keep to it and less likely to injure yourself by doing too much too soon.
Don’t have a plan? Find one on the net like these great resources for example…
Cool Running Couch-to-5k training plan (This is the one I’m currently following – Week 6 day 2 just now)
Alternatively borrow a book from the library or pay for a session with a personal trainer to help you formulate a workout schedule for the coming weeks.
2. Vary It
Cardio can get very boring if you do the same activities and use the same machines or follow the same routes every time – and besides, if you keep on doing the same old routine it does not challenge your body as well as it could.
Make the effort to switch around your activities, equipment and environment. Vary the intensity too – some long slower sessions, some interval training, some medium intensity, medium length sessions too.
3. Entertain Yourself
Add to your enjoyment by using music or tapes while you work out. Watch TV at the gym. A long session on the treadmill can go very quickly with your favorite show. Don’t forget to focus on what you’re doing too though.
4. Protect Yourself
Keep yourself safe and free from injury by wearing the right clothes and footwear and keeping to well-populated areas. If there’s a lot of traffic go easy on the music so you can hear as well as see vehicles approaching. Let someone know where you are going.
Wait a couple of hours after eating a full meal before working out. If you are too hungry to work out a light snack such as a banana can be enough to satisfy you before your session. Also you may find you get more out of an early morning work out if you have a light breakfast first.
If you want the full fat-burning effect of a cardio workout don’t eat straight after your session but wait an hour or so before having a meal.
6. Stay Hydrated
For a normal cardio session plain water is best. Before, during (depending on the length of your session) and after. Avoid sugar loaded sports drinks – you don’t need them. Good performance requires hydration not sugar.
Don’t forget to do your stretches after your workout to avoid soreness. Doing a lot of cardio (and building muscle) can reduce flexibility – so stretching is essential. Also taking up something like yoga and practising on non-cardio days can be particularly beneficial in maintaining flexibility.
Bonus Tip : The main thing to have an effective cardio workout is just to “Do It” because chances are you will feel great whenever you do and not so great when you have avoided getting out there and getting it done for a week. Once you have a plan, log your workouts so that you can see you are making progress. A heart rate monitor too is a great tool for seeing how far you have come before you can even feel the difference.
It’s difficult making a selection among all the elliptical machines available and finding one
a) where the elliptical movement is good
b) which fits your budget
c) that feels sturdy enough for the amount of punishment it’s going to take
But anyway, you visit stores, you look online and finally you make a choice. You get your elliptical trainer delivered and it appears just fine. Your fitness program begins in earnest – you don’t use the machine as much as you expected but you ARE using it… and then within a few months things start to go wrong.
The elliptical movement is not as smooth as before, there are noises coming from the machine, and then after a little while you can’t use it at all.
Then you’d expect warranty and customer service to take over when you have problems with a purchase as large as an elliptical trainer wouldn’t you – I mean these things are not cheap – over $1000?
Well, you might be wrong.
Read the problems one reader encountered with his NordicTrack elliptical.
What should you do if you’re thinking of buying an elliptical?
- Read our independent free elliptical buying guide
- Take a look at our reviews of ellipticals and best buys
There was a fair warning of problems in our review of the NordicTrack but unless you happened to see it before a purchase how would you know?
I have to say that NO machine is guaranteed to be error-free but with purchases of large fitness equipment like an elliptical trainer you do want to see the backup of great customer service who will look after you if you hit problems.
Stair Running image by Jack Brodus
If you like the idea of climbing stairs for exercise, and would like to take it to a much higher level, Former Fat Guy has a stair training plan to help you get in shape fast – stair running for fat loss.
Of course, stair running is not for the beginner – follow an aerobic training program first so that you build up your cardio strength to a level where you can jog continuously without too much effort for 15 to 20 minutes non-stop before giving stair running a go.
And you need a good flight stairs to use, Former Fat Guy suggests 20 to 30 stairs are about right.
After warming up by walking up and down the flight of stairs for 5 minutes you can start sprinting up the stairs then walking down repeating 3 to 5 times.
And if you want more after that he suggests more sets, more stairs or adding a weighted vest.
Stair running is great for getting super fit and for fat burning and if you want to feel motivated to do it you can always pretend you’re Rocky Balboa in training in that famous scene on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with music “Gonna Fly Now”blasting out in the background….