If like many Biggest Loser Club members you’re new to exercise, you’ll know that it can sometimes take a bit of knowledge and whole lot of guts to brave the public eye at the gym and get your fitness under way.
We spoke to The Biggest Loser Asia trainer Kristy Curtis to get her tips on how new exercisers can build the confidence needed to train effectively and safely.
What can I do from home to get my exercise regime started before braving the gym?
To achieve a good solid workout it’s not always necessary to sweat it out at the gym, nor do you need to have the latest and greatest workout equipment at home. You just need to make use of what you find around the house. Try these moves:
Body weight lunges up and down the hall way, followed by squats with legs shoulder-width apart.
Push ups on your knees or toes depending on your upper-body strength.
Bicep curls with cans of food and tricep dips off a sofa or table will tone the arms.
Climb the stairs for a challenging exercise to tone the bottom and legs.
Don’t forget about the great outdoors as well for a walk or run for some cardio activity.
What exercises and classes should I focus on when just beginning my fitness program?
If you are heading to the gym and need some direction in terms of what body parts to train and what exercises to do remember these six movement patterns:
Squats and lunges are very effective exercises to work the big muscle groups of the body and get the heart rate up.
Deadlifts involve bending, working the back of the legs, glutes and lower back.
To train the chest and front of body try push ups.
Some cable woodchops focus on the core and abdominals.
Group fitness classes are designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so be sure to pick the right pace for you. Try aqua aerobics for a non-impact workout, Les Mills Body Pump for strengthening, Pilates and yoga for breathing and stretching, and cycling, circuits or boxing for some interval-based cardio work.
As a newbie to exercise should I have a personal trainer?
If you have joined a gym, enlisting the support of a personal trainer is always money well spent, but it all depends on your personal budget.
Trainers can assess any strengths or weaknesses you may have and can offer valuable guidance when it comes to technique and programming tips. It’s important to realise that not every exercise suits every person, so you want something tailor-made for you.
Your personal trainer will also help you set some short and long-term fitness goals to keep you motivated and on track.
How do I know what level to start at?
In terms of intensity, when you initially start out use a ‘Perceived Level of Exertion’ scale to quantify how hard you’re working, with one being easy, five a medium intensity and 10 working to your limit.
Aim for your warm ups to be between one and four on the scale and your workout to be between four and seven. Then gradually increasing this intensity as you get fitter.
Aim for three to five 60-minute sessions a week, combining structured weight training, interval-based cardio workouts and some mind and body classes as well, such as yoga or Pilates.
When starting any fitness program it is always best to check with your doctor and get clearance if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
Should I focus on my training frequency, intensity or duration?
When starting out it is more beneficial to focus on the amount of times you can train per week, rather than intensity or duration. This will help you establish a habit you can continue over time.
An inappropriate amount of intensity can leave a person worse for wear and reluctant to exercise.
How do I know if I’m working hard enough?
Anyone starting a new exercise program must listen to their body. Your body will give you signs that it is working aerobically (at a heart rate of 70-85%) by sweating and feeling breathless. If you can still talk, or sit on the bike and read a book, you’re not pushing yourself enough.
Make the most of your time by mixing up your workouts by varying the speed, resistance and changing machines every 10 minutes.
In regards to resistance training, if Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) lasts for more than one to two days you know you have pushed yourself a little far.
How do I know when I’m ready to take my training up a notch?
Training plateaus are when your strength gains stop and you generally feel like your fitness is no longer improving, causing you to lose motivation. They usually occur around four to six weeks into your exercise program.
This is the time at which you should increase your training in terms of frequency, intensity and duration. However, in order to do that safely each variable needs to be carefully assessed by yourself or preferably a professional before changing.
Kristy’s three pieces of key equipment for beginners
Good quality trainers that are suitable for your foot profile (arch).
- A Swiss ball will serve for many purposes, from stretching to exercises.
- A yoga mat is handy for any abdominal work or stretching.
Kristy’s three top tips for beginners
Balance your lifestyle.
- Invest time and money into good nutrition.
- Choose exercise that you enjoy as you're more likely to stick to it.