I've always been active my whole life - doing yoga, going for walks, running, playing basketball, jumping on the trampoline. However that was pretty much all i knew, and i when i first joined the gym after a while i realised that i didnt need to do 60 minutes of running or crosstrainer to call it a workout. Though at that time i stll struggled with balanace with my exercise, i was returning to a bit of a gym-cardio-rat and i did it because i thought i had to. (I can say that since i decided to stop doing so much cardio at the gym roughly 2-3 years ago i havent done more than 10 minutes on a crosstrainer, because each time i look at one i just think of all the hours i wasted on there. And with the treadmill, ill do my running and walking outside and now and again do HIIT on the treadmill. I think the only cardio machine i dont mind using is the stair master... but once again, i would rather be out running or walking or doing some form of circuits for my cardio. This is just my choice though, cardio machines at the gym can be great if you dont overuse them XD)
Anyway, when i first realised that there was more to cardio machines in a gym and that i could actually lift weights i was curious. And at first it took alot of courage for me to sign up to a circuit training class and then later on Bodypump. And i can say, going to those classes helped me alot. I learnt about different exercises for different muscle groups, i got to test my strength and realised that strength training was fun, but also i enjoyed the group atmosphere and the positivity! So i did those classes often... but then i began doing them too often, where i would do 2 body pump per week, 2 circuit training per week and 2 cardio per week.. so basically a full body workout 6 times per week, and it was far too much. And as i began to feel weaker and less motivation i stopped going to the classes and eventually found my way into the functional training room (which was meant for stretching and sort of a "girl area"). And then with the help of Google and Youtube i put together some workouts. Whenever i tried a new exercise i always did it when i was on my own as i didnt want anyone to see me incase i did it wrong... in the beginning i was very self conscious. I didnt know much about strength training and i didnt have an instructor either, i had to do all my research on my own. Which had its pros and cons.... I mean with the group classes i went to they didnt care so much about form, so when i did squats and deadlifts on my own in the beginning (i filmed myself back then) it was awful form!! My back was not straight, my head was looking up in deadlifts and i am just glad that i never used heavy weights back then.
But i continued doing online research, looking at videos and learnt the technique and began to feel more confident! So roughly a year after beginning to strength train i decided to go into the "Mens strength training area"... if you've been to a gym im sure you have realised that it is often divided in some way? Yup, terrifying for a newbie like me...and even if i felt more confident, i was so nervous the first time i went in there and my workout plan just sort of disappeared as i was nervous and i didnt want anyone to look at me and then telll me to get out as i was too skinny or that they would laugh at me trying to do my bicep curls with 6kg. But i pushed past that and realised that nobody really looked at me.... i mean i wasnt exactly new to the gym or strength training. And then i just felt more confident over time, learnt more, tried new exercises (and realised it was ok to mess up the first time or have to ask for help if necessary).
I would recommend asking a PT or instructor at the gym for help the first time. Or if you are trying an exercise or trying a squat or deadlift and there is somebody at the gym who looks like they know what they are doing.... ask for help. I've had to do it at the gym to see how my squat and deadlift form was, and i got a few pointers which was very helpful. I mean they are all people there, but just be wary of who you do ask for help.... some people arent always as knowledgable as they look!!
And if you want to strength train remember that form and technique before weight, ALWAYS. I have never been someone chasing weight so i have never injured myself at the gym, the times i have injured myself have been while doing other things. Also know that ITS ok to use light weights.... i mean on my off days or when i dont have as much energy i have to lower my weights and at first i thought it was kind of annoying because i would think "I am so much stronger than this... i can do deadlifts with double this weight", but i knew that if i increased the weight i would most likely injure myself as i just didnt have the energy.
Try to not care what others think, just do YOUR thing.
And with reps and sets.... that all depends on your goal. Ive done high reps and low weight, low reps and high weight, supersets, trisets, circuits, 1000rep challenge. Ive done 13 exercises during a workout, and ive done 3 exercises during a workout, ive done short and intense 30 minute workouts and ive done long 2 hour workouts.... its all very different and as i dont follow a plan i just do the form i want to during the workout. Sometimes if i am low on energy ill do both low weight and few reps, it depends each day!
But enough about that, if you have any questions about this then you can just ask :) And instead below is just some exercise things i wanted to point out :)
I think many people fall into the trap of what "they should be exercising". If you see 101 posts about people at the gym and strength training then you think you need to do that as well. But you know what, you dont have to go to the gym to workout and you dont have to do strength training either. Of course strength training has alot of benefits and is recommended but you dont have to stand and do 10 x 4 bicep curls to strength train. You can do circuit training, body weight training, resistance training, function training, crossfit etc all of those are "strength" training as well!! But as mentioned, the gym is not the only place to workout. Yyou can go for walks, runs, cycle, do yoga, dance, swim, go ice skating or skiing in winter, go rollerblading or play tennis or badminton. You can do calisthenics or crossfit or lift weights at the gym or practise strongman. You can do home workouts or stretching or pilates or outside workouts or zumba or body pump or boxing or martial arts or horse riding.
So many different forms of working out.... and you know what, you DONT have to workout 6 days a week just because it seems like "everyone else" does. Aiming for 2-3 times a week is a great amount, and you dont have to force yourself to go to the gym and do something you hate, instead try different forms of exercise until you find what you enjoy! Dont try one form and then say you hate exercise, then you havent even given it a chance. Of course some people are more prone to like exercise and others arent. For example i hate fashion and make up and spending time on my hair and clothes... that does not interest me. But if i had the time and the money i would spend all my days exercising.... doing crossfit, wallclimbing, running, walking, at the gym, circuits etc If i could i would (and of course that would also mean that i had optimal nutrition and recovery time!). But some people find an hour of exercise 3 times a week tough, while i can do 2 hours 6 days a week and enjoy every moment of it.
So the best thing is to find what you enjoy, and forget what others are doing. The best is just to be active in some form that you enjoy, dont make it a chore, make it something you look forward to.
I can say, that i love how my sister is beginning to love working out, how she see's it as something that makes her happy and just a part of her day. Before working out wasnt something regular, but then when i joined the same gym as her and i did workouts together with her or acted as a PT to her she has began to love working out and she feels so much more confident and has seen and felt more progress and it makes me so happy to hear about it, how before exercise was done just because it was recommended and she knew it would be good for her, but now she enjoys it and i love hearing about her progress. But also how she does what SHE enjoys, i love strength training and using heavy weights, but she loves circuits and i am happy that she has found what she enjoys, that she didnt begin just standing infront of the mirror and lifting weights because that is what i enjoy. But also that she has gained the confidence to try new exercises and dare to go into the "mens weight room"!! Hahah, i just thought i would mention that, because it makes me so happy when i hear that people have found their form of exericse and they do the amount that fits into their life!!
Enough about this, it became such a long post. Instead, leave your comments if you have any questions or want me to write about something :)