Exercise is an essential part of healthy living and self-care. If your goals for the new year include finding a new workout, consider these easy places for beginners to get started.
ON THE STREETS
The first thing a new runner should do is get properly fitted for shoes, said Rob Fyfe, who owns Palmetto Running Company with his son, Christian. Running stores offer foot and gait analyses that will pair you with the right shoes, which is important for preventing injury.
Then start with a program that alternates between walking and running every few minutes. This way your body gets used to running and an elevated heart rate, and then you get a couple minutes of walking to recover. There are several free apps you can download to your smartphone to help. Fyfe also recommends putting a 5K race on your calendar for three or four months out to give yourself a goal. The camaraderie of the race and the sense of accomplishment you’ll gain from doing it will motivate you to keep going.
“Running takes four to six weeks to get your body used to it,” Fyfe said. “But it’s great therapy. I like to get out there first thing in the morning because it clears your head and gets you ready for the day. It’s great cardio and it keeps your heart strong. It’s also a quick way to lose weight.”
IN THE WATER
If you’re looking for a low-impact, full-body workout, dive into the water. Swimming can be adapted to any fitness level and any body. Unlike other activities, swimming puts no pressure on the body, said Brandon Brown, the aquatics director at the Island Recreation Center. It’s the perfect way to exercise after an injury or if you have a disability.
“For someone who doesn’t know how to swim, we can start with the basics,” Brown said. “And for someone who knows how to swim, but wants to get better, we can help with strokes and form.”
And don’t let the cold keep you high and dry: The new dome over the Rec Center’s pool keeps the air temperature at 80 degrees and the water 82. And they offer lap swimming and private lessons for adults who want to swim, with drop-in rates and monthly or yearly memberships.
IN THE GYM
Many local gyms offer an introductory session with a personal trainer who will work with you to develop a routine that’s appropriate for your goals and fitness level. Experts recommend visiting several gyms before deciding what appeals to you most and what your gym requirements are — aesthetics, cost and proximity to your workplace or home will be factors in your decision. Research shows a less than eight-minute drive is ideal. Whether a gym is intimidating to you as a beginner has a lot to do with the culture there, so be sure to visit at the time of day you plan to attend.
ON THE MAT
Yoga combines breathing, meditation and body poses for a gentle, full-body workout. It improves strength, flexibility, range of motion and balance, all while calming the mind and relieving stress and anxiety.
“When you walk out of a yoga class, you feel an overwhelming sense of wellness,” said Jean Rioux, owner of Jiva Yoga Center. “You’ve worked your whole body and cleared your mind, and the practice helps you live a more balanced life.”
If you’ve never tried yoga before, going into a class of people who seem to know what they’re doing can be scary. Jiva Yoga offers Yoga 101 workshops and other programs for people who are new to the mat, introducing the language, props, and basic poses. The workshops are more interactive than a normal class, so participants can ask questions. For workshop dates, visit jivayogacenter.com.
When it comes down to it, doing anything active is better than doing nothing, so pick an activity you’d like to try and go for it.