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Why join a gym?
When you first join a gym, it is important to be clear what you want to get out of your workout and time in the club - remember it's not cheap!
Too many people have no clear idea what they want from their workouts - as a result, they achieve little, and often quit in frustration losing money and also motivation to return.
To get the most from your workouts, it's important to know what you want to achieve, have a clear plan of how to get there, and regularly evaluate your progress to assess the effectiveness of your workouts.
There are three main types of fitness:
- Cardio: Cardio workouts work the heart and lungs and get the blood pumping around the body. Activities that improve cardio fitness include running, spinning, swimming, cardio classes, walking, and any of the various cardio machines (rower, stepper, cross-trainer etc).
- Strength: Strength training comes from working against resistance. The resistance can come from weights, machines, bands, even your own body weight.
- Flexibility: Flexibility improves the range of motion of your joints. It can help to improve sports performance and also reduce the risk of injury. You can improve flexibility through regular stretching, or with activities like yoga or Pilates.
Overall fitness comes from a combination of all three, however, if you have more specific needs, your focus will be more on one particular area. Typical fitness goals include:
- Get fitter
- Lose weight
- Increase strength
- Add more muscle
- Feel better
- Be able to do everyday tasks better
Let's look at which types of exercise would help you achieve these different goals:
- Get fitter - Improving general fitness requires a combination of all three types of exercise (cardio, strength, flexibility). Which you emphasize may depend upon both your starting point, and what you see fitness as meaning to you.
- Losing weight - If your goal is to lose weight, you will certainly want to include regular cardio exercise. However, what might surprise many people is that you should also include weight training. Not only does it boost your metabolism (the speed at which you burn calories) better than other forms of exercise, the extra muscle you add also helps your body to burn calories, thus reducing your body fat levels.
- Increase strength - If you want to increase strength, resistance training is the most effective method.
- Add more muscle - Similarly, for those wanting to add muscle, a regime of regular strength training, with a limited amount of cardio, is the way to go.
- Feel better - For those who simply want to feel better, an overall program that includes all three types of exercise will likely work best.
- Be able to do everyday tasks better - Often referred to as Functional Fitness. Again, this will likely include all three elements, giving you better strength (to carry things, get up stairs etc), improved cardio fitness (improves your endurance so you don't get tired so quickly), and improved flexibility (so you can reach things better).