Be a Tortoise.

Be a Tortoise.

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That seems like a weird title for a fitness article, right? I’m telling you to go slow! I can hear you right now—Brittney, that goes against everything I know about fitness. But especially for my newly converted couch potatoes, I really want you to be the tortoise and not the hare. Let me explain:

When we decide on a new activity, we tend to throw ourselves in wholeheartedly. Friends, that may seem like a great way to start but it will backfire. Especially in fitness! There is so much enthusiasm at the beginning. As trainers, it is super hard for us not to get caught up in that energy and want to push our clients right away. I know that one of my goals is always to get the client some results right away. Results get returns, right? If they see something improving, people tend to come back to the gym. And aside from me getting paid for the repeat business, I love seeing people feeling good about themselves.

But, folks, we’re doing our clients and ourselves a big disservice.

First of all, there are the finances. Some people join a gym and sign those long-term contracts. Then they realize that the gym is too crowded for them to use the equipment they want when they actually have time to go. Maybe they realize that gym—which is close to their house—is actually in the opposite direction to work, and they end up stuck in miserable traffic every morning or evening. Or they buy a bunch of equipment in an attempt to really buckle down at home and then after a few weeks, realize it doesn’t target what they want, doesn’t deliver on what it promisedor is too complicated. Sometimes people try things because others do and it turns out not to be for them. I have known people who jump headlong into whatever the newest fitness class is or whatever the latest home gym equipment is only to find out that they hate it. All these things are a waste of money for them. They feel discouraged and embarrassed. They don’t have the resources at that point to find a better gym or a new piece of equipment. Fitness falls by the wayside, equipment gathers dust, whatever. The point is, they quit too early.

The other issue is more serious. When you jump into something without learning the proper techniques or letting your body adjust to the new activity level, you are setting yourself up for an injury. This is something I always need to remind myself and my clients. Just about anybody can do a huge amount of mountain climbers in a day. But is that good for you? How are you going to feel the next day? Nobody should be going from sitting on the couch every day to running a marathon. It just doesn’t work like that. As trainers, we have to teach people to do the exercises and stretches correctly, gradually increasing their fitness levels. As a workout fan, it is hard for me to do that. I always want to jump right in and see how far I can push myself! A lot of my new clients are the same way. But if we aren’t teaching them basic skills and strengthening their heart, lungs, and other muscles, they are not going to last. They will get injured or be too sore. They will grow resentful and burnt out. That does not sustain a healthy attitude toward fitness.

So like I said at the beginning, friends. Be a tortoise. Start slowly. Try a few gyms or different types of classes. Borrow a few workout DVDs from the library before you commit to a program. Buy equipment that can handle more than one type of exercise to avoid boredom. Start out slow. Then add more time, more frequency toget to the results you want!