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7 Fitness Program Tips To Achieve Your Most Effective Workout

by Gavin Dennett
Posted: November 30, 2015

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Are you starting a new workout plan every week? Check out our fitness trainer’s guide to choosing – and sticking to – a fitness program that will help you see results. 

Former professional ironman Andrew Hill brings real-world experience to his day job as head of Health, Fitness and Beauty at Open Colleges. Here, he shares seven fitness secrets for exercise newbies.

1. Know what you want to achieve from a fitness program

“Having a goal of what you want to achieve in six to 12 months’ time is really important. Everyone’s fitness ambitions are different. Losing weight is a common reason why people start fitness programs, or perhaps an older person may be looking to get into exercise to prevent falls and maintain bone mass. And me? I want to be able to run up and down the stairs with my seven-year-old daughter and be active with her.”

2. Integrate fitness into everyday life

“Being physically active should be like eating lunch; a habit you will have for the rest of your life. I read somewhere that people make New Year’s fitness resolutions and after a month, 75 per cent of them have stuck to it. But within two months, that figure is down to 49 per cent.

“People shouldn’t look at exercise as something additional they have to do, but rather as something they integrate into their whole life.

“When you decide to exercise, don’t go all in. Make gradual changes. If you want to lose weight, figure out how to be more active three days a week and then eventually move up to being active five days a week. Don’t focus on how many kilograms you’re going to lose, just focus on being active. “My philosophy is people should always be wary of a quick fix. Anything that promises super-fast results that seem unbelievable, probably is unbelievable.”

3. Use a personal trainer or go it alone?

“Anyone who doesn’t know a lot about exercise definitely needs to go with a personal trainer. It’s like choosing between taking your car to the mechanic or going to one of your mates who knows a bit about cars. Your car will probably break at some point and it’s the same with your body. Unless you know what you are doing, you’re better off consulting someone who has a good idea.”

4. How do you choose a personal trainer?

“Initially, have a meeting with a new trainer to see if there is a compatible relationship there. You need to get along. The key word in personal training is ‘personal’.

“If they are not asking you about your medical background, any injuries and what you want to achieve, there’s a problem. They should be getting your history and know what you are bringing to the exercise sessions; things like if you are recovering from knee surgery or if you have asthma. “If they are not asking those questions, they’re not tailoring a program for you.”

5. Qualifications are non-negotiable

“There is no legal requirement for personal trainers to be qualified, so it’s up to you to check that they are. I’d want to know they are experienced in the industry, too. With qualifications, you get assurance they know what they’re talking about. And they should have insurance if anything goes wrong.”

6. What about boot camps?

“Some people respond to boot camp techniques, but many don’t. A trainer needs to be able to work with people who don’t respond to that. If you are the type of person who loves boot camps and being whipped every session, that’s fine, but I’d be careful of going from zero exercise to five boot camps a week.”

7. One-on-one training versus group training

“The more of a beginner you are, the more you will require one-on-one training. Groups are fine, but probably not the best place to start. You want a trainer to look at how you are moving, where you have weaknesses and what you can do to address them. If you use a bad technique, you probably won’t get injured the first time, but at some point you will.

“As a personal trainer, it is perfect if everyone in a group training class is at the same level, but it’s highly unlikely. Some people might be training to run the City2Surf, while others are looking to simply lose weight, so having them all training together isn’t going to work.

“If you’re going to group exercise training of around 20 people, with everyone doing boxing or skipping and there is no feedback from the trainer, I’d hope you’re not paying a lot of money for it. That is not an individualised service, but rather a mass exercise class.”

Want to take your fitness hobby to the next level? Check out our guide to careers in health and fitness. <>


Gavin Dennett

Is a freelance Journalist with a particular interest in sport, travel, film, music, food and human interest stories. His work has appeared in Foxtel Magazine, TV Week, Cleo, Australian Hotelier and the MasterCard "Love This City" online series.

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