Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
For our last blog post of the beginner season, we will discuss some tips and tricks on keeping your exercise habit trucking. How do you keep things going once you’re over that initial couple of weeks, even a month of consistency, and the reality is setting in that this is a (hopefully) lifelong process that you’re committing to?
Firstly, start small! Don’t try and do too much too soon. You see this play out on your social media every year. Folk try to kick off about 3 different new year’s resolutions at once, they want to exercise, lose weight, read three books a week, and do Duolingo every day. It never works out, best case scenario they might stick to one of those, but more likely than not it’ll all come crashing down after a few weeks. It’s just too big a change all at once. Aim lower, start with amounts of almost trivial change, and build up from there.
Schedule your exercise. Pretend it’s just like any other appointment, even if you don’t work with a PT or coach, pretend it’s a work meeting. Try to make time for it at a place in your day where you never have any other conflicting activities if possible, and no, Netflix doesn’t count. We recently sent out a goal hierarchy worksheet to our newsletter subscribers that helps you do this exact bit of admin, so if you’re interested in that please sign up below.
Find an activity you enjoy. Exercise really doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. There are thousands of ways to exercise and finding one that jives with you might take a bunch of experimentation, but it’s worth it in the long run. There’s everything from hot yoga, dance classes and swimming, powerlifting, CrossFit, kayaking and everything in between. Think about things you enjoy and try to look for exercise classes or structures that are based on or include that thing.
Mix it up. One thing that can really tank motivation after the initial surge is the tedium of the routine. This is why I advise mixing up your workouts or activities. Even better, is to save the variety one for when things are really starting to get boring, and then sprinkle them in. Like having a break glass in case of low motivation button, keep them for emergencies only, and that way they keep their restorative powers.
Create accountability. This isn’t just limited to exercise, but a super easy way to hold yourself accountable to stuff is just to tell people that you're doing it, then they’ll typically ask about it most times that they see you, and that small inkling of pressure can help spur you on. Some people find having a PT or a gym buddy a great help for this reason. You build a routine together, and there’s an expectation that you’ll be turning up, which can really help you get in gear and get to those sessions you really don’t want to go to.
Reward yourself. Celebrate your exercise-related accomplishments. A small caveat, probably don’t celebrate with a calorie-dense meal out, as that will likely pull against your overall aims with exercise, however, some self-care activities such as a spa treatment, or buying new workout clothes are excellent rewards for exercise accomplishments! You want to try and think of things that will compound your motivation and desire to exercise, not subtract from it.
Track your progress. Somewhere in the back of a cupboard I still have the first workout my friend in school wrote for us both to do back in 2006/7. It can be incredibly rewarding to see how far you’ve come in your exercise journey, especially at times when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Plateaus do happen, and we’ll be covering what to do about that in our next month of content, aimed at people already well on their way with exercise.
Please also remember that building a habit takes time and effort, you have to put both the time and the work in. It won't be a straight upward road. But eventually, it will just become part of your routine and personality as a whole.
Hopefully, you found some of these tips helpful, and if you have any comments on them, or want to let us know any tips you use to stay on track, please let us know in the comments below. @atsapproved on all social media.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
One of the concerns I hear from people, most often, as to why they are hesitant or nervous about going to the gym for the first time, or the first time back in a very long time, is that they’re worried they don’t know what they’re doing, and it’ll be very obvious to everyone else. Alongside the concern that other people may point that out, or make them feel bad.
Firstly, if you are concerned about that I highly recommend trying to find a small to medium box gym, rather than a bigger commercial one. Smaller spaces tend to generate a much better sense of community and comradery, and asshats don’t tend to last/aren’t tolerated. Whereas big chain gyms are harder to police in terms of behaviour, and likely more concerned with making money than fostering a truly positive and healthy community.
Secondly, as much as I can’t offer much advice on how to deal with idiots in the gym being rude, apart from just ignoring it, and if it’s of great concern, report it to the floor manager. We can do something about not feeling super confident about looking like we know what we’re doing.
Every movement in fitness and sport is built from 7 fundamental movement patterns, and they are:
Once we get some practice and competency with all of these, everything else builds off of them. Not to say you’ll be smashing out front levers on your first day in the gym, but you’ll be a lot more comfortable grabbing a kettlebell and hitting some goblet squats if you’ve already done a bunch of squats at home.
Let’s build this at-home workout. First we will go through each movement then at the end I'll give some advice on how to put it all together in one workout. I’ll throw in some regressions and progressions for each as well.
Horizontal push: The classic push-up. If you can’t do full pushups (chest to the floor, then locking out to straight arms without bending your body en route) I highly suggest doing some incline ones. You can do these against a wall, on the edge of a table.
The aim is to use gradually lower and lower surfaces until you are in the full pushup position on the floor.
Image credit to silver sneakers
Vertical Push: For this one, you’ll need a bag or container that you can fill with things to add some resistance. Once you have your bag, you’re just going to push it overhead while standing upright. We can regress or progress this by changing the weight of the object or bag. Don’t worry too much if there isn’t perfect symmetry in how you press it overhead, we’re just doing the best we can with minimal/no equipment.
Image credit to Men’s Health
Horizontal Pull: To pull horizontally at home we have to get a little creative. I recommend the wall or the doorframe pull. Find a doorframe or even better a vertical pole/post that you can hold onto or wrap an old towel around. You’re then going to lean back away from the wall, and then pull yourself towards it.
Image credit to The Whitecoat Trainer
You can progress this exercise similarly to an incline push-up, by finding ways to lower yourself closer to being parallel to the ground with your weight entirely held by your hands.
If you’re feeling frisky you could also look to combine a hinge and a horizontal row for a bag/object bent over a row to fulfil both movement patterns at once!
Image credit to Redefining Strength
Vertical Pull: This one is very tricky without any equipment. If you have a resistance band this is easy peasy, just tie it to or lob it over something (even shutting one end in the top of a door is good). Then either sit or kneel relative to the band so that you can pull it from overhead down to your chest. If you do not have a band, we can just change what direction vertical is! If we go back to our object/bag and lie down and press it out to full arm’s length. Then we’re going to lower it until it gently touches the ground above our head, then return it to above us, while maintaining straight arms throughout. (Like the photo, but using whatever we have to hand instead of a dumbbell)
Image credit to Women’s Health
Squat: This one is pretty easy equipment-wise, though I am going to recommend finding something sturdy and about 3-6cm in height to put under your heels. A hardback book you aren’t precious about, even scrap wood would work great. Just to give your heels a bit of a lift, which will likely make the exercise a lot comfier. From there it’s just bending the legs and lowering the hips to as low as you can go without letting any part of your foot lift from the floor, and without leaning over too much.
To progress the squat we can through one foot behind us up on a chair or a sofa, and turn it into a split squat. For regressing it we can set up close to a door frame, or something sturdy we can hold on to and use that to assist us up and down until it’s comfortable enough to not use hand support.
Hinge: The hinge can be a bit challenging for folks. Just because it’s not a pattern we do regularly (unless you golf) the simplest way I get folk to a hinge is to assume that position as if you’re really out of breath, where your hand are on your knees.
Then from here we just remove our hands and stay rigid, then pull the hips forward until we’re back standing upright. For progressing this, we can simply add load into our hands in the form of objects or bags. Or we can curl one leg back and go single-leg hinge
Image credit to Men’s Health
Rotation: There are a bunch of different ways we can get some rotation in, but one of my favourite starting points for new people is the lying trunk rotation.
Image credit to My rehab connection
You lie on the floor, and bring your feet halfway up towards your hips, then lower your knees to the side together, then control them back into the starting position, then go towards the other side. To progress these we can bring the feet up from the floor so the legs make a set of right angles and the hip and the knee. Then we can progress onto full straight legs, extended towards the ceiling.
For the workout itself, start with just 2 sets of 8 repetitions of each movement, in whatever progression/regression works for you best. If you’re fairly sore the next day, don’t repeat the workout until the soreness has dissipated, but aim to build up to going through this daily. Add in 1 extra repetition each time until you get to 15, then on the next workout go back to 8 repetitions but do 3 sets of each instead of 2. Then go through the cycle again at 3 sets of each till you hit 15 reps.
Hopefully, you found that helpful! If you’re swithering about going to the gym for the first time, feel free to check us out @atsapproved on all social media, or just give us a call on 07843024606 and have chat!
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.
With the turn of the new year, a lot of people are going to be looking to start or restart their fitness journeys to try and achieve their health and fitness goals.
One of the most efficient ways to do that is to hire a coach or personal trainer. You don’t have to go trawling online to learn how to do everything, you just pay them and they tell you! Easy peasy right?
Sadly not, much like any profession, the skill and professionalism (and cost) of PTs vary wildly, and it’s not always clear who would be the best fit for you so here are some tips for what to look for before hiring a coach.
Qualifications. Do they have a valid level 3 personal training qualification from a reputable service provider, do they have valid professional insurance? Typically people will display their qualifications on their website (not having a formal website and only having a social media page is a bit of a red flag).
How experienced are they? Have they been working in the industry for a long time? Most people will cite their industry experience, and if they don’t, it usually means they haven’t been going long. This is fine, everyone starts somewhere, but the less professional experience should be somewhat reflected in the price.
Personality. This is where social media can come in very clutch. Realistically you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time with this person, and if their personality doesn’t gel with you it isn’t going to be an enjoyable process, and will likely hinder your motivation to go to sessions as well as your enjoyment of them. It’s worth following people’s socials for a bit and seeing whether they’d be a good fit for you.
Professionalism. Personally, this one hits home the most, since everything to do with it takes literally no talent. Are they punctual, arriving early? Are they organised, do they get paperwork and programs to you ahead/of time? Are they reliable, do they give you plenty of notice for any schedule changes, or payment deadlines/processes? This one you really only get from references or once you’re already working with someone, but I strongly advise not sticking around if they struggle with stuff.
Specialisation. If you have a specific health condition or are training for a specific sport, or level of sport, you may wish to investigate to see if they can facilitate your needs. Not everyone will be a specialist and that’s fine, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great coaches, but if you are concerned that you may require specialist/bespoke help, I’d do a lot of looking around and asking questions to find the right person.
References. Ask them for references, or find former clients and get a vibe check for them. I particularly advise people who no longer work with them for this purpose, as they’re not under any great pressure to sugarcoat anything, so you’ll get an honest take.
Price. As I alluded to earlier, the price for PT varies wildly, from the sceptically cheap to the eye-watering/celebrity-level price tags. Realistically the actual difference in service between the two isn’t as big as the price would suggest, certainly at the top end. It’s also a good idea to clarify ahead of formal sign-up the full payment option you are selecting, just so you’re aware of any additional fees or contractual obligations like cancellation policies or fees.
That’s my list for helping you find a coach or personal trainer, I hope you found some of those tips helpful and if you’re looking for a PT in 2023, consider getting in touch with us! @atsapproved on all social media, and visit our website for our introductory offer that’s frankly ridiculous value.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.
With the fresh start, the new year brings, many people will be taking their first tentative steps into pursuing health and fitness, perhaps stepping inside the gym for the first time ever.
It was once everyone’s first time in the gym, and there will be some nervousness and anxiety about going anywhere new, especially when you are a beginner.
Here are some practical tips for your first few visits to any gym.
Check online or over the phone before going to see if they have any inductions or paperwork that need filling out prior to becoming a member or using the facilities. This will save you from having to feel rushed in your session or having to cut it short on your first visit.
If you have any health concerns about specific exercises and how they relate to you, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions, consult your GP or PPC first before engaging in any formal exercise program.
Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. Whatever you feel comfortable, or the least uncomfortable in will be the best bet to start with. Try to pick things that won't impair your movement and you won't mind getting sweaty in.
Remember to bring a water bottle and towel. Staying hydrated through your sessions is important, and having a towel to help clean the equipment after you’ve used it is just gym use courtesy.
Once you’re done with a piece of equipment put it back where you found it. Most gym kit has a designated storage place and it’s just good manners to put things back where you find them. Even if some people struggle to follow this one....
Do your best to minimise using your phone during your session. Yes, there are use cases for apps, and some people like to record themselves to check their form or technique. But scrolling away on social media is a massive time sink and will not only lessen your focus on your session but will also likely mean you use a piece of equipment for longer than you probably could have.
Hopefully, you found some of those tips helpful, and if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey this year I wish you all the best and hope you stick with it!
If you’d like guidance and support on getting started, or how to get the results you want from your fitness and exercise, feel free to give us a shout. @atsapproved on all socials, except Tik Tok because we’re old.
Estimated read time: 2 minutes.
Anxiety around the gym and exercise in general is our content theme for the first part of 2022. For people as deep in the fitness world as we are, we have fully forgotten everything it was like being new, or having not even started yet. However we fully believe that no one should find the gym or pursuing their health and fitness journey intimidating. It’s the onus of coaches and veterans of the gym life to make the environment is as open and welcoming as possible.
With that in mind, here are 9 tips for dealing with gym/fitness anxiety.
If you’re worried about the amount of people there, especially given recent events, a lot of people aren’t keen on crowded spaces. Try to go in off peak hours to start out.
Misery loves company! That’s one reason why crossfit is so popular. Bring a friend, not only is it good to have company when trying something new, it’s also great for accountability.
Have a plan. Knowing what your session entails before you go to the gym will help you focus on the task at hand, and less on those anxious thoughts.
Get yourself some gym clothes that you feel confident and comfortable in. That’s different for everyone, some people enjoy leggings and crop tops, some people like a baggy crew neck.
Consider choosing a private facility, they’ll be less busy and you're far more likely to find a friendly welcoming community.
Remember everyone is at different points in their journey, you’re just starting out. Everyone who looks super confident and super strong also once had their first nervous steps into a gym that they didn’t know what to do with.
If you’re able to, hire a coach or PT to help you get started and teach you some fundamentals. You’ll have a confident base knowledge of things to do, and you’ll have a plan to stick to even if you’re on your own.
Remember fitness and health is a lifelong pursuit, there is no ‘completion’. You never complete playing an instrument, or learning a language. There’s always more to learn and more to do, and none of it happens fast.
Research the gym you plan to go to, and it’s equipment ahead of time. Then research some exercises you can do with it will mean you are better prepared ahead of your visit.
Hopefully some of these were of use. If you are considering starting your health and fitness journey but are feeling anxious about it, please get in touch! We’d love to have a chat and see if we can help you out.