Wellness Tips

SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS: Wellness director offers tips for positive results in the gym | News

Starting a workout regimen has long been a popular New Year’s resolution, but there are a few tips beginners should follow to set themselves up for success. 

Amberly Willis, wellness director at BodyPlex Fitness, said the three most important things beginners can do to improve their chances of meeting their goals are being realistic with themselves, setting a schedule and having the right mindset. 

Willis said typically, beginners are so excited about starting the gym that they say the will go every day, almost every day or even twice a day.

“In reality, what they’re doing is they’re kind of setting themselves up for failure,” she said. 

She recommends that beginners set a goal of three days a week.

“That way you can kind of slowly build your confidence,” she said. 

Once someone meets their goal for a few weeks, they’ll often feel more comfortable adding a day to their schedule.

“And so, what happens is they slowly kind of go up the ladder instead of starting at the top of the ladder and just basically jumping off and stopping and never trying to climb back up it because they set a goal that just wasn’t realistic,” she said. 

As far as setting a schedule goes, specific days and times matter. Willis said often when she asks beginners when they’ll be coming, their answer is whenever they can make it. 

“What happens is, as humans, we have to take care of other humans, or we have to cook dinner, or we have homework,” she said. “There’s always going to be something that is a priority over yourself. … People always want to take care of others over taking care of themselves when it comes to health and fitness.”

Instead, if someone schedules a workout during their lunch hour, they are much more likely to make it actually happen, she said. 

To be successful in a new workout program, Willis also said having the right mindset is crucial. One thing she often hears people say is that they have to go to the gym, which makes it sound like just another item to check off on their to-do list.

“In reality, we as individuals, we do not have to go to the gym,” she said. “We get to go to the gym. We get to release endorphins into our brain. We get to take care of our bodies. We get to live longer because we choose these things.”

As with anything new, the fun will eventually wear off, and that’s when she said dedication has to trump motivation, and the benefits will in turn be abundant. 

“I have seen health and exercise improve so many lives when people just give it a chance,” she said. 

In addition to the big three, Willis said folks should also find someone they are doing it for.

“If it’s yourself, that’s great. For a lot of moms, it’s to show their kids the importance of physical exercise…,” she said.

For others, it may be to avoid joint replacements or improve other medical conditions. Regardless of the reason, it’s important that people are clear on their purpose for being there. 

Accountability is also huge. Willis recommends that people get involved in a group fitness class.

“The camaraderie and the family of knowing that people are going to notice if you’re not there truly matters.”

As far as regimen goes, Willis suggests that those new to the gym focus their workouts on resistance training since new research shows that fat is burned by gaining muscle.

“Let’s say I work out for an hour and I do resistance training,” she explained. “I’m going to burn calories for two to three days when I leave because my body is having to repair that muscle tissue. But when I’m doing cardio, I’m only burning calories for about two to three hours after I leave, so it’s a huge difference as far as the benefits and the results that you see because for every pound of muscle that you put on, you burn on average about 50 calories of fat. So, when it comes down to it, fat really does get burned off with the more muscle that we can gain on you.”

For beginners, she suggests 30 to 40 minutes focused on resistance training followed by 20 minutes of cardio.

Willis said it’s important that people don’t just focus on what they’re doing in the gym. On days they don’t go, they should set goals like walking 10,000 steps, parking farther away from a building or taking the elevator instead of stairs, for example. Drinking enough water is also crucial, as is food portion control.

“As a woman, I know that my portion control for my protein should be about the size of my palm, so if I’m [at a restaurant], and they give me a huge piece of chicken, I’m going to cut out the size of my palm, and I’m going to take the rest of that chicken and the rest of whatever is on my plate that I want to take home, and I’m going to put it in a to-go box before I even start eating. That way it’s off of my plate, out of my mind.”

At the end of the day, Willis said all of these things combined result in an overall healthier lifestyle.

“Little changes in your life will absolutely show through when it comes to the big changes that you’re wanting.”

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