Being your own coach requires much more obedience and discipline than what would be required by a trainer. He’s not there to correct you so you have to ensure your safety, your right posture and your efficiency yourself. Everything you’ve learned about a correct workout will have to be put into practice. You’ll make some mistakes. But there are some things you’d rather make sure you do and some others that you’d better avoid.
- Start by visiting a doctor.
Yes, I know, you’ve heard about it before. Yes, it’s this tiring introduction at the beginning of every fitness DVD.
But it’s not there just to legally ensure that the creator of a fitness program will have no responsibility if something bad happens. It’s there to remind you that you have to protect yourself and your health. If you haven’t exercised in the last couple of months, years, decades or… lives, chances are that after your first real cardio workout you’ll feel that you’re about to die! Wouldn’t it be better to know that you’re completely healthy? To have the green light from your doctor and know exactly how far you can push your limits to? And if you have certain health issues, then this is not just a “do”. It’s a “must”!
- Begin as a beginner.
If you’re just starting out, “slow” is the first word in your vocabulary. That means low intensity and low impact workouts. In other words you have to help your cardiovascular system and your joints adapt gradually. When it comes to cardio, start with some walking workouts or easy aerobics. Strength training can be slowly introduced to your body with some body-resistance exercises. Follow modifications and listen to your body.
- Make a weekly schedule.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is exactly the case here. If your plan is “I’ll work out when I can” or “I’ll try to find time”, you’re leaving yourself too much space for excuses and cheating. Even if it’s just one workout that fits into your tight schedule, plan the day and time ahead. Make an appointment with yourself and be there!
- Track your progress.
You track your weight loss progress religiously, don’t you? Why shouldn’t you do the same with your fitness abilities? And there’s a great effect here compared to the scale. The scale sometimes moves the wrong way. Your fitness progress will only do that if there is illness or injury involved. Can you think of anything more motivational than watching yourself getting fitter?
- Be patient with yourself.
There is no exercise fairy that will visit you overnight and sprinkle you with a magical stardust filled with endurance, strength and muscle definition! You have to work hard to acquire all this. And the fact that you’re doing all this on your own could be slowing the process even more. So, patience is your friend. And don’t forget that persistence always brings results.
- Don’t make schedules that you can’t follow.
Are you thinking of starting out by making a weekly plan of early morning workouts even though you can find the snooze button on your alarm clock with your eyes closed? Well, the snooze button is about to destroy your plans… If you’re not a morning person, why make such a commitment to yourself? Plan your workouts according to your known way of life. You can make changes later, slowly and according to your needs.
- Don’t skip warm-up and cool-down (stretching).
They may look time-consuming to you but they are the most important parts of your workout. You need to prepare your lungs, your heart and your muscles for exercise and you have to help them come back to normal afterwards by bringing your heart rate back down and by stretching your muscles . Your body will thank you for taking the time to do both.
- Don’t overestimate your abilities.
It’s ok to underestimate. Soon, you’ll realize you can do more and make the necessary changes. But if you overestimate your strength or your endurance, injury could be right around the corner. Again, the advice is the same. Always listen to your body. Don’t ignore signs of fatigue. It may be your body crying out for help.
- Don’t be afraid of a bit of soreness.
Muscle soreness after exercise, which is almost always the case to people who are just starting out, may not be serious but can become a deterrent factor for many beginners. The truth is that it is a good thing. Your muscles are repairing themselves and are adapting to their new role. In short, they’re becoming stronger. Soreness, though, should not be causing you serious moving problems and it should go away within the next 48 hours. If not, you might be overdoing it.
I hope I’ve given you some tips on the strategies you need to follow in order to make exercise at home a pleasant and successful experience. Don’t miss the last part!
Coming up: Working out at home, Part 3 – Three things to remember