I’ve had the benefit of a few years’ experience in fitness and would like to share the following things I’ve learned along the way.
Gym intimidation: When starting out, the gym can be a scary place and when you are unsure of how to use the gym and its equipment properly, it can be discouraging. Make no mistake, learning how to use the gym is a skill that takes practice. Many sessions are needed before you will feel comfortable, so stick with it!
It can be intimidating when you see all the physically fit people walking about, but I assure you that everyone, whether it’s the jacked guy lifting a ridiculous amount of weight or the super-fit woman doing some crazy exercise you’ve never heard of, they all started from the same place you are at. Don’t feel self-conscious. You will already have respect because you are getting out there and trying. That first step is the hardest. Besides, experienced gym people are always a good resource for advice or help, which they are usually more than willing to give.
Don’t exercise to be skinny: Everyone is unique and a healthy body image, no matter what size and shape, is healthy. If you don’t love yourself, who will? People should exercise to be healthy, not skinny.
The health benefits of exercise are undeniable. It fights depression, heart disease, prevents diabetes, strengthens the immune system, and on and on. As you progress from beginner to intermediate you will feel better physically and mentally. Also the energy you gain as your body gets stronger is a pretty cool feeling.
Motivation: This is a tough one, difficult to maintain. We’ve all been there. After the initial ‘starting out’ rush fades, it can get harder to motivate, to get out and be active. The couch and TV can be pretty hard to leave, especially at -40. What I’ve found helps is reading articles in magazines or websites such as Men’s Health or Muscle and Fitness to educate myself. There are tonnes of fitness and health resources out there that can help you realize your goals. I also go to youtube and find motivational videos or videos people post about their personal success stories – whatever I can find to keep my head in the game.
Variety and finding what works for you: I’ve been talking mostly about using the gym but if that doesn’t interest you, find something that does. It can be going for walks, running, bike riding or swimming. My point is that after a while or maybe right from the start, a routine may get stale or just doesn’t work for you. Exercise comes in many forms. Find something fun you can look forward to. It makes the process so much easier. Experiment with an exercise or activity you saw in a video or magazine. Get out of your comfort zone. Find what works for you.
Lifestyle: The last thing I will leave you with is also the most important. Fitness is a lifestyle. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Goals are important but don’t expect to lose “x” amount of pounds and be done with it. It just doesn’t work that way. There’s gonna be good times and bad times. The key is to stick with it. Find a good balance and pay attention to what you eat. You don’t have to eat super-clean, but a simple tweak here and there along the way can make a world of difference.
We all have our own personal journey to walk. It’s a lot easier if we’re not out of breath when we’re on it.
Kevin McLeod was born and raised in Fort Providence. He works at Ekati diamond mine as a heavy equipment mechanic.