Tuesday, November 1, 2011

10 Fears That Keep People From the Gym

from www.fitbie.msn.com

10 Surprising Fears That Keep People from the Gym
The gym is a portal to good health, but it can also be a scary place for a newcomer. Learn how to conquer your fitness fears with these expert tips

By: Mary Squillace

Scare Away Your Fitness Fears

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A fear of flab might motivate many of us to go to the gym, but for some, fitness-related apprehension is a roadblock to starting a workout routine. According to a 2011 Mintel report, people who do not belong to gyms often cite “feeling out of place” as a reason for not joining. Jim White, RD, ACSM, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach, VA, says gym jitters are normal, but not insurmountable. “At first [new gym-goers] are nervous, but after one month they start losing weight and building confidence it’s like they own the place,” he says.

Here, White and Ruth Frechman, RD, ACE-certified personal trainer share tips for conquering common workout fears.

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“I can’t do a single pushup”
For newbies who don’t yet have the upper-body strength to perform a single pushup, the thought of attempting the move in front of strangers can be daunting. “I know people who won’t go to a gym until they feel like they’re fit, so they work out at home just to get fit enough to go to the gym,” White says.

Solution: Start with beginner modifications and then build up to the regular version. For example, you can perform the move with your knees on the floor or at an incline. “I’d also recommend [seeking] the advice of a personal trainer,” White says. “Your trainer can help you find other exercises to build strength.”

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“I don’t want to get too bulky”
One of the biggest myths among women is that they’ll build too much bulk if they start working out, White says.

Solution: “Women need to trust that building lean muscle speeds metabolism, burns fat, and will contribute to building a nice body,” White says. Most women don’t produce enough testosterone to bulk up from a few gym sessions a week. While you may gain a few pounds early on due to the fact that muscle weighs more than the fat, you’ll lose weight in the long run. Research at the University of Alabama Birmingham found that women on a strength-training program for 25 weeks lost significant amounts of belly fat.

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“I don’t have time to get results”
A busy schedule and the perceived time commitment of exercise can definitely dissuade a gym-goer. “People think that unless they work out for an hour they won’t see results, so they feel like they [shouldn’t bother working] out at all,” Frechman says.

Solution: Do shorter workouts, but make them count. “Even 30 minutes of exercise will make a huge difference,” Frechman says. A study published in the Journal of Physiology has shown that short bursts of exercise with short recovery breaks in between—high-intensity interval training—has the same effect as longer endurance exercise on performance and muscular adaptations that reduce the risk of diseases, like type 2 diabetes. On a stationary bike, try doing 10 intervals of 1-minute sprints followed by 1 minute of rest, three times a week, and you’ll reap the same physical benefit as you would biking continuously at a less strenuous pace for several hours.

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“I’m going to get hurt on the treadmill”
Though most people run on the treadmill without incident, horror stories about friction burns—or worse—might be enough to put you off the belt for good. “The treadmill can be intimidating, if you start too fast,” White says.

Solution: “Using the elliptical or bike might be a good start,” he says. “And, of course, have someone show you what to do.” Begin walking on the treadmill at a low speed—White suggests starting at 3.0 miles per hour. He also recommends using the manual mode instead of a program. “A program could kick in high gear when you’re not ready,” he says. “You want to have control over the treadmill, rather than it having control over you.”

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“I’ll get bored”
Activities such as lifting weights or running and cycling in place can seem monotonous at the outset. “Some people are so afraid of getting bored that they won’t even try to exercise,” Frechman says.

Solution: Variety’s key, according to Frechman. “Use the treadmill one day, bike one day and then do the elliptical another day.” Another option would be to sign up for a class that you really enjoy. “Being around others makes exercising more fun.”

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“I look fat”
Maybe the extra weight you’re carrying moved you to join a gym in the first place, but it can also be a source of insecurity that keeps you from ever going.

Solution: Check your worries at the door. Going to the gym is a big step toward building a fitter, trimmer body, and other gym-goers recognize that. Once you take those first steps to start exercising, you’ll find solidarity among fellow active individuals—your workout should really be a moment of pride, not shame!

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“I’m going to get an infection”
Though relatively rare, staph infections—which are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous skin infections—can be picked up at the gym, where you’re in close contact with others and potentially contaminated surfaces such as the shower floors. “They can get nasty. It takes some people up to 6 months to recover [from a staph infection],” Frechman says.

Solution: If you have an open wound, cover it. Take advantage of the gym’s sanitizing spray bottles and wipes or put a towel down on the seat before sitting on the machine, Frechman urges. These measures can protect against serious infections and also prevent the spread of germs in general.

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“I won’t be able to stick with working out”
It sounds counterintuitive, but some people don’t want to start exercising because they’re afraid they’ll fail to keep it up, Frechman says.

Solution: She suggests making an exercise calendar and committing to working out on specific days. “Once you make a commitment, you’re more likely to continue going,” She says. “Treat it like a doctor’s appointment, because your health is important.”

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“I don’t know where to start”
A newcomer’s first few gym experiences can be overwhelming, between the labyrinth of machines and seemingly endless exercise options, so it’s not surprising that many people have no idea where to begin.

Solution: Educate yourself. Pick up a book or magazine that explains muscle groups or start at home using a video to bolster your confidence. When you’re ready hit the gym, begin with 30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week and 30 minutes of weight training 3 days a week, which you can split up over 6 days, or pack into fewer days by combining your cardio and weight lifting routines.

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“I’m going to be sore”
You want a better body, but you don’t want to walk like Frankenstein for days after your first workout.

Solution: “[When you first start exercising], limit your time to 30 minutes so you don’t overexert yourself,” says Frechman. “And stretch after working out.” You might be a little sore after your first few workouts, but you shouldn’t be in debilitating pain. If you’re not sure how much exercise is too much, make arrangements to work with a personal trainer who can teach you how to do exercises without hurting yourself and help you understand your limits. Also be sure to build recovery days into your workout routine.

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