We are a couple of weeks into the new year, which is a great time to check back in on your intentions for the year ahead.
One of our key roles as therapists is helping our clients plan for getting back into fitness and sport safely and successfully meet their goals. Unfortunately, we are also in the position of seeing many clients who do not succeed in their fitness goals because they have been sidelined by an injury too soon in the process.
A regular fitness regime is part of a healthy lifestyle and can help us have a better relationship with our bodies, feel better and move better. Whether your goal for 2019 is to run a marathon or simply do some form of exercise 3 days a week, here are three considerations I recommend:
1. Group fitness classes may not be the best place to start
If you are young (under 30 years old) and injury-free or already in great physical shape, you may do fine starting right into group classes at one of the many varieties of studios that offer classes to “kick your ass”. Unfortunately, for individuals who sit at computers for work (which is most of us) or who haven’t been regularly active for more than a few months, the demands of a group fitness class that aims to push you hard can pose the risk of loading your tissues too quickly.
Group classes, as much as they may try to offer different levels, can run the risk of tempting you to push beyond your healthy limit when you are starting off. Group mentality always brings out our competitive nature and desire to keep up with the rest of the crowd. The result: you risk ending up with an injury that stops you when you have barely begun.
Instead, consider working with a well-trained personal trainer for the first 6-12 weeks that can tailor a program specifically for you to build up the foundational strength the classes will demand. I would recommend choosing a registered kinesiologist that offers personal training services. Alternatively, many small gyms will have personal trainers who can work with you prior to transitioning into their group classes.
2. Deal with any existing injuries or sensitivities before you begin
If you know your knees hurt with every hike you did in the summer or that ankle sprain you had 4 months ago hasn’t felt right since it would be wise to see a physiotherapist prior to heading into the gym.
It could be that just starting to exercise will make them better over time, but rather than rolling the dice, you can set yourself up for success by knowing ahead of time where your weaknesses are (we all have them). Your physiotherapist can help you plan an appropriate progression of activity to ensure your injury doesn’t get to the point where it stops you and can communicate some of these recommendations to fitness trainers you choose to work with.
3. Share your goal and celebrate your successes
Whether it is a good friend, your physiotherapist or your massage therapist, share your goal with someone who can help support you. As part of your healthcare team, we are all committed to helping you succeed.
Hearing about our client’s goals is inspiring and one of the best parts of being a therapist. Having someone who will ask how your progress is going can help hold you accountable to your commitment and stay keep on track when challenges arise such as lack of time or motivation.
You don’t have to do it alone and having someone to celebrate your success with can be a great final reward.
Interested in more? We have an excellent previous blog post on our site on succeeding with setting goals, you can read it here.
Good luck and may this year be your fittest yet!