Getting Started with SparkPeople's Fitness Starter KitYou've Got Your Kit. Now What?
-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor
Congratulations on purchasing SparkPeople's Fitness Starter Kit! You've taken the first step in making fitness—and all the benefits that come with it—a priority in your life. So you've got the kit…but where do you begin? This article will help direct you to the information and resources you need to start exercising with your kit and reach your fitness goals!
Fitness Starter Kit Page
We created the Fitness Starter Kit Page (www.SparkPeople.com/starter) to house all the resources and information you need to use your kit and reach your fitness goals. If you ever want more exercise ideas or tips to using your Kit, you can easily refer to that page for answers and ideas. There, you'll find links to additional SparkPeople resources that are 100% free, including: streaming online workout videos, animated exercise demos, answers and community support from the Fitness Starter Kit SparkTeam, and more.
How to Use the Items in Your Fitness Starter Kit
Here's a quick rundown of the pieces of equipment in your kit, and how you can use them.
Stability Ball. Using the pump included in your kit, you can inflate ball to its proper 65cm size. A stability ball is one of the most versatile exercise tools you can use to strengthen your muscles. You can also use the stability ball for some stretches, which you'll see in the workout DVD included in your kit. Any exercise you do while seated, leaning on, or lying on the ball will engage your core muscles, improving balance, coordination, and core strength. You can perform a variety of exercises using the ball all by itself and also use additional equipment, such as dumbbells, along with your ball. To learn more about using a stability ball, watch this video. You'll also find a list of workouts and exercise demos using your ball at www.SparkPeople.com/starter.
Resistance Band. Like a stability ball, resistance bands are highly versatile. Using the medium-resistance band in your kit, you can strengthen every major muscle group in your body in more ways than one. Plus, bands are lightweight and take up very little space, making them easy to use at home and when you travel. You can use the band in a variety of ways, when standing, seated or lying down. Your band also comes with a special attachment that allows you to hook your band onto a door frame to try even more exercises. To learn more about using a resistance band, watch this video. You'll also find a list of workouts and exercising demos using your resistance band at www.SparkPeople.com/starter.
Pedometer. Your pedometer will count the number of steps you take each day, motivating you to get active, burn calories, and improve your fitness level through the simple act of walking. Pedometers are pretty simple tools, but the "feedback" they give is priceless! Simply clip on your pedometer at the beginning of your day and then take it off at the end of your day. Most Americans take an average of 5,000 steps or fewer during a single day, but fitness experts suggest that we all aim for at least 10,000 steps. Every bit of activity you do can help you live a healthier lifestyle and get fit. But it's important to note that walking only counts as cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise when you do it for at least 10 minutes straight AND elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level during that session. That said, start out by gradually increasing your steps each day until you meet your 10,000-steps-a-day goal. Then you'll be ready to take fitness walking to the next level, using your pedometer in conjunction with our Walking Guide. To learn more about the benefits of cardio exercise and how to start, read our Reference Guide to Aerobic Exercise.
- Workout DVD. The SparkPeople Starter Kit Workout DVD contains two full-body strength training workouts (one using the stability ball, and one using the resistance band). These short 10- to 13-minute workouts are easy to fit into your day and perfect for exercisers of all fitness levels, including beginners. As you progress and the workouts get easier, try doing both workouts back to back, or repeating a workout once or twice for a longer, more intense exercise session. Just keep in mind that after strength training, you should rest one or two days before you strength train again. So don't do these workouts multiple days in a row without resting. To learn more about the benefits of strength training and how to start, read our Reference Guide to Strength Training. To easily add your DVD workouts to your Fitness Tracker, scroll down to the bottom of this article.<pagebreak>
Now you understand that your band and ball are used for strength training and that your pedometer will help you get more active and potentially begin a cardio exercise program, here are a few more tips that will help you design a workout program that works for you!
- Talk to your doctor first. This can't be stressed enough. If you're new to exercise or it's been a long time since you've worked out, refer to our Exercise Safety Tips for Beginners before you use the items in your Kit.
- Always warm up and cool down. Prepare for every workout with a warm up, and finish every workout with a cool down, whether you're walking with your pedometer, exercising with your band, or following the ball workout on your DVD. The following articles will explain why each of these activities is important and how to do them properly: Reference Guide to Warming Up and Reference Guide to Cooling Down.
- Aim for 3-6 cardio workouts per week. You can walk with your pedometer or try other forms of cardio if you choose. If you're a beginner, start with fewer days and gradually build up. Each cardio session should last at least 10 minutes. As you progress, see if you can aim for 30, 45 or even 60 minutes per session. Always rest from cardio at least one day per week.
- Aim for 1-3 strength training workouts per week. You can use your DVD (as described above) for strength training, or any number of the animated exercise demos you find on www.SparkPeople.com/starter. Make sure you rest the muscles that you trained for at least a day before you train those muscles again.
- Don't forget to stretch! Your DVD will include stretches at the end of each workout. You can also get stretching ideas from our animated demos. Just make sure that you stretch during cardio and strength training workouts, preferably while your muscles are warm. Learn more from our Reference Guide to Stretching.
- Have fun! The combinations and workout possibilities you can do with your Kit are endless! Change it up often to keep seeing results and prevent boredom.
Thanks again for purchasing your Fitness Starter Kit! Good luck reaching your fitness goals!
Add these Workouts to Your Fitness Tracker!SparkPeople Starter Kit DVD: Ball Workout
SparkPeople Starter Kit DVD: Band Workout