Starting out on your fitness journey can be daunting but don't forget everyone was a beginner once.

People exercising

Cardio or weights?

group of people participating in a spin class

What's better? In short, the answer is that a combination is best.

Cardio

To lose weight, the calories you consume must be less than the calories you expend. Cardio can help with burning calories and getting you closer to your weight goal.

The beauty is that there are lots of fun and varied ways of getting your heart rate up.

Spin is a great way to get sweating – good for those that really want to kick their cardio up a gear.

If you're looking to unwind, Zumba is our favourite way of combining both exercise and a good time.

Weight training

On the other hand, weight training can be just as beneficial for weight loss.

Muscle mass requires more energy for maintenance. What this means is that the more muscle your body has, the more calories your body uses up when resting.

For those after a toned look, include some resistance training in your routine. If you want to train smart, head along to one of our Pump classes. When you're short on time, make sure to try our Core30 classes for a  quick and targeted workout.

The message is that balance is key. It’s important to include both cardio and weight training into your workout for overall health. Variety is good for your body, and makes you more likely to stick to your programme too. 

Find both cardio and weight-based exercises that you enjoy this summer, and you'll look forward to heading to the gym.

Tips for fitness beginners

A man and woman squatting, participating in a group fitness class

Starting out on your fitness journey can be daunting but don't forget everyone was a beginner once.

Group fitness class

One of the easiest ways to get started is to join in on a group fitness class. Depending on what you enjoy, you could head along to a Zumba, Pump or Stretch and Release class.

It’s likely you won’t be the only beginner in the class and having others around means you never feel alone. Talk to the trainer before the class starts, they’ll keep an eye on you and make sure you’re being safe in your movements. 

Aqua fitness

Don't forget how fun and challenging water workouts are. Come along to one of our aqua classes for a guided workout with others, or pop in to swim some laps at your own pace if you prefer.

Fitness centre membership

If you would rather work out within your own schedule we suggest booking in a time with one of our qualified instructors. Included as part of the fitness membership they are able to write up a free programme tailored to your goals.

When it's time for you to progress further, your programme can be updated to help keep up motivation. Our instructors can answer any questions you have and show you how to use the gym equipment so that you feel more confident on your own.

It won’t be long before you start feeling the benefits of a routine and feeling more familiar with the equipment around you. 

Check out how easy it is to become a member at your local Recreation & Sports centre.

Why weight train?

five men and women participating in a weight lifting group fitness classMisconceptions about weight lifting are common. The truth is that everyone could benefit from adding weight training into their exercise routine.

Weight lifting can be intimidating when you are new to it, but you'll soon find that it's well worth the effort.

The benefits of weight training are:

Fights osteoporosis

As you get older, and particularly for women, it is natural for your body to lose muscle and bone mass. However, it is proven that weight training helps to improve bone density. Simply put, weight lifting helps strengthen your bones and lessens the risk of breakages. Get to it!

Manages weight

Consistent weight lifting builds muscle. The more muscle your body holds, the more calories it burns at rest. This means more you weight train, the more energy you'll burn lounging on the couch! If you're interested in dropping some weight, incorporating weight lifting in to your exercise routine can help aid weight loss.

Prevents back pain

Weight lifting can strengthen the muscles of your core. Our core muscles help support the spine and can lessen the discomfort caused by sitting all day at a desk. If you are an office worker, strengthening your core is an important priority in offsetting the effects of a less-active lifestyle.

Builds strength

It may be obvious, but feeling fitter and stronger can make going about your everyday activities that much simpler. Stronger muscles make picking up your children, getting from place to place in a hurry, and being active on the weekends easier.

Lastly, a message for the ladies. Some women feel that weight lifting will make them look 'bulky'. There's no need to worry, that won't happen. A bodybuilder's physique does not come easy, and casual weight training won't make you look like one.

A good way to get started is to come along to a Body Pump class. Let the trainers know that it is your first time and they will make sure to look after you. Otherwise feel free to discuss incorporating weight training with one of our qualified instructors. One of our team can put together a free personalised programme for you as part of the gym membership at any of our Recreation & Sport Centres. 

How to improve core strength

Six women participating in a pilates classWe've all been told before how important our core muscles are to our health - better posture and reduced back pain being some of the most important benefits. The good news is it's never too late to start improving your core strength.

Our Recreation and Sport Centres offer a range of classes that target your core such as Pilates, Yoga, Aqua fitness and more.

Pilates classes are one of the best places to start. They're a challenging but rewarding workout, regulars find it's easy to get addicted! Pioneer fitness centre offers classes for every experience level so don’t feel shy about trying it for the first time.

One of our favourite ways to target your core is to come along to a BAT class. This class focuses on activating your Bum, Abs and Thighs, for a serious lower body workout. Our instructors do an amazing job of distracting you whilst your body's doing all the hard work.

Yoga is well known for providing a full body workout, but most importantly it targets the core muscles thoroughly. There are different types of yoga that focus on different areas of wellbeing. Pioneer offers three types for you to choose from. We suggest trying them all to see which you like best.

One exercise that is sometimes overlooked in core strengthening is aqua exercise. Water jogging is a great non weight bearing exercise that also provides resistance for the muscles. Simply running up and down the swimming lanes is a good workout, but we suggest having a go at the Aqua Deep and Aqua Fit classes offered at our centres. These classes are good for anyone looking for guidance or motivation, and are a really fun time. Bring a friend and give them a go!

Group fitness classes are included as part of a fitness and multi membership, but you are also welcome to join classes on a casual basis. Find out more on the group fitness class page!

Make exercise a habit

woman at the gym lifting weights Committing to exercising three to five times a week can be a daunting prospect, often people believe they don’t have enough time in the day to make this a reality. Yet the benefits in the short and long term are worth you finding the 30-60 minutes a day.

The hardest part of any exercise programme is always getting started, followed closely by making it into a habit that will last a lifetime.

Your local Recreation and Sport Centre has some advice which can make this much easier for you:

Get a structured programme

When you have a personalised programme that caters to your specific needs, you are much more likely to get results. Seeing feedback from your body in terms of changes is a great way to stay motivated and increase your desire to show up.

A great way to start this is to get a personalised programme from one of our highly qualified instructors.

Make your goals and intentions known

By informing those closest to you of your intentions to start exercising regularly, you then make yourself accountable to them. These people can encourage you to work out when you’re lacking motivation.

Set realistic goals

Don’t expect your dream body to appear in a month when beginning to establish an exercise habit set your goals around attendance rather than weight loss or any larger goal.

If you’re just beginning, commit to three workouts a week and make your first goal to attend the gym 12 times in your first month. By setting realistic and smaller goals you are more likely to achieve them.

By following these tips, regularly checking in with your trainer and making time to workout at least three times a week,  exercising will be a part of your weekly ritual in no time. A complimentary personal programme is offered with fitness or multi-membership ever 12 weeks.  

For more information about membership options(external link) see the Recreation & Sport website. (external link)

Take advantages of your membership

women running You may not realise, but you are entitled to a free personal programme with an instructor as part of your membership.

A personal programme refreshed every 12 weeks can help you reach your fitness goals.

One of our highly qualified fitness instructors can make you a new personal programme every 12 weeks and support you throughout your fitness journey. 

Whether you prefer group classes(external link) or gym training(external link), a personal programme can help you reach your goals and stay on track.

Your free personal programme includes a:

  • 30 minute consultation to discuss your fitness needs and goals
  • 60 minute training session with a fitness instructor
  • Programme folder to take away containing exercises covered and suggestions
  • 12 week follow up appointment to discuss your programme and make any changes.

A personal programme can give you more confidence using gym equipment, new exercise ideas and the ability to work on your specific fitness needs.

Access to the gym facilities and group fitness classes are part of fitness and multi memberships(external link) so we advise you to try both. 

Talk to one of the highly qualified fitness instructors at your local Recreation & Sport Centres(external link) to find out more about personal programs.

Why group fitness increases motivation

Lady smiling whilst lifting weights in a pump classHuman beings are social creatures and most of us love to be around other people.

We  all love to laugh, joke and have fun. In a world where email, texting, Snapchat and Facebook is increasingly the normal way to interact, working out with a group offers that human connection that is sometimes missing in day-to-day life.

We can do just about everything today virtually without ever talking to a person, with group fitness, you have to get involved.

Participating in group fitness helps to motivate and push you further than exercising alone, here's why:

  • For many people getting and staying motivated to exercise can be difficult.  Many people who attend a group fitness class show up exhausted from the stresses of everyday life but once they join the group, they become re-energized. With group fitness instructors providing direction and motivation to push harder people tend to see results faster.
  • Many people who attend regular classes initially come for the exercise and along the way become friends with other regular participants.  It truly is one of the best ways to meet people and develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible.
  • Working out in a group has been proven to help you maintain your motivation through support and inspiration.  On your own, it is easier to not push yourself and achieving results can take longer. 

Recreation & Sport Centres offer over 150 group fitness classes each week, in addition to term based Adult Recreation Programmes such as Pilates and Yoga.  

Try a class today and you will find fun, friends and improved health and fitness.  

Getting into a fitness routine

lady smiling in fitness classAre you starting your fitness journey, or getting back into it after a break?

Here are a few things you might notice when you dust off those sneakers.

  • When you start out though it may be a little uncomfortable. This is your muscles adapting to new movement.
  • Exercise will make you feel good. This is because exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural feel good chemical.
  • You might get sore muscles for the first 24-48 hours. This is normal and will ease over time.
  • As you’re burning more calories your body will crave more food. Ensure you eat plenty of nutritious foods, including protein to aid muscle recovery.
  • You may feel more tired than normal. Get a good nights sleep to help your body reap the benefits of exercise.
  • Choose exercise you enjoy and start with some short term goals. As you build up fitness and strength your confidence will grow. 
  • Fuel your body well and get the right amount of rest and recovery.

Fitness instructors at the Recreation & Sports Centres are there to help. Talk to an instructor today about helping you on your fitness journey.

Tips for new runners

lady running outsideIf you are starting to run outside or in the gym here are a few vital tips to help your performance.

  • Strengthen your leg muscles with regular gym workouts; this will improve your running performance.
  • Vary the terrain you run on. If you mainly run outside it’s good to use a treadmill every so often as it’s less impact on your joints and roughly 10 to 20 per cent easier. The same applies if you normally run on treadmills, head outside and work your muscles more. Mix it up with the terrain you run on across grass, gravel and tarmac.
  • When beginning your running regime, remember to take it slowly. Aim to increase your running time around 10 per cent per week, this will help you avoid running injuries such as shin splints and runners knee.
  • Start with easy interval training such as running to one street light and walking to the next, then repeat.
  • Keep a steady pace you can hold. Use the talk test; you should still be able to talk while jogging and not be puffing or gasping for breath.
  • Set a goal or fun run to aim for. Having a goal in mind provides motivation to run and makes running more rewarding. 

Tips for maintaining fitness

Man laughing whilst training a group

Check out some simple tips to keep fit and overcome low motivation levels.

Personal programmes are free with a Recreation & Sport Centre membership - talk to one of our instructors today.

Have a positive attitude

Set a goal of how many times a week to exercise, be realistic and if you beat it, it's a bonus.

Mix up your training

Swimming, group fitness classes or the gym are all fantastic options to get your heart rate up and build muscle. Use a personal programme to help you in the gym. 

Try something different

The weather is getting warmer, so why not try the Recreation & Sport Centres ' Summer Series Connect' see the fitness board in your local centre for details.

This series will feature activities such as; outside sessions with fitness equipment that teach participants new ways of working out.

Prioritising stretching

Group class of four people stretching

There are many benefits to be gained from regular stretching.

Stretching is important

It can be tempting to cut short a workout session or forget to include a stretching routine, especially when you are short on time. It’s important that stretching becomes a regular habit as it can have a positive impact on your overall health. The benefits of regular stretching include flexible muscles, an increased range of motion in joints, and a decreased risk of injury. 

For best results, it’s good to have an understanding of the two types of stretching.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching involves the continuous movement of your muscles, such as a walking lunge or making wide circles with your arms. This type of stretching is best before or during a workout session as it helps to warm up your joints and muscles.

Static stretching

Static stretching involves holding positions for a certain amount of time, often for around half a minute. This kind of stretching is best after a workout when your muscles have been warm and are ready to be cooled down.

The wide benefits of stretching are the reason that our Group Fitness instructors include dynamic stretches during the warm-up, and static stretches at the end of our Group Fitness classes. For a session that targets all of your major muscles, our Stretch and Release class is a great way to unwind. For the days you're not able to make it to the gym, find some time for a home stretching routine(external link).

For all the physical benefits, many find that stretching slowly is also a great way to relax mentally. Next time you're working out or need to wind down after a stressful day, make sure to incorporate some time for a stretching routine.