For most of us, going to the gym is no more appetising than a warm slab of butter. But, like breathing, keeping fit is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, and there's no getting around this one.
As excruciating as this may sound, we need to remember that a heart attack is a lot more painful than a trip to the gym, and a death no sane person should want to go through.
Believe it or not, we are all born to exercise. After all, without muscles we cannot enjoy the finer things in life, like long bouts of shopping, or more importantly, sex. Muscles need to be nurtured, treated with respect, and be allowed to test their mettle every once in a while. The trick is getting past that first hurdle.
What puts us off gym? Could it be the thought of all those other sweating bodies? Or perhaps we feel uncomfortable exposing our level of fitness (or lack thereof) to complete strangers? Gyms are, after all, crammed with perfect physical specimens of humanity – and they're using the gym to stretch and flex their bulging muscles. But most guys would love to get into a room jam-packed with half naked, glistening females!
Enough of that. What is important is that we all need to exercise at some point in our lives, and where better to do it than in a gym? The trick lies in finding your workout personality. This means accessing that secret bit of your subconscious that knows you need to exercise, and wants to help you do just that. And it’s not difficult to make this secret bit a part of your daily life. So which of the following describes you?
Are you a solo artist or groupie?
Try to figure out what exercises suit you and your body. When coming to terms with this hefty task, it is equally important to consider whether these exercises suit your normal personality. If you don’t like flexing with others, then choose sports such as swimming or cycling, that are more solitary. If you’re a social butterfly, then aerobics or yoga are the ones for you. Find the exercises that are most compatible with your personality, and you’ll find it a lot easier and more comfortable getting fit.
Are you an early bird, or creature of the night?
If you are barely alive in the mornings, go to gym at night after work, or if you are dead before 9 pm, go to gym in the mornings or mid-afternoon.
“Figuring out the inner workings of your body clock is vital in creating your own personalized workout routine”, says Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, and author of Fight fat after forty.
Aim, shoot, score
Set yourself some goals. Make a chart monitoring your weight loss or muscle gain, and set it at 1 kg a week. Or sign up for a race or a physical competition for which you will need to train. Take up a social sport, such as squash or tennis, and revel in victory as your helpless opponents gasp at your incredible level of fitness and strength, while you pound them relentlessly into the asphalt.
Finding your workout personality will take some time. The most important thing is to take the initiative, to just do it. If you’re a fitness virgin, then take it slowly. Start by going to gym once a week for a couple of weeks, then twice, and so on. Slowly build on your fitness repertoire, until you find the perfect routine that fits your lifestyle, and your personality.
(Warren Vonk, Health24, updated September 2009)