However, many folks still launch into a new exercise regimen without any professional assistance. If you’re not going to hire someone like Kaleal, you can at least learn to avoid these eight exercise mistakes he says people often make:
“It’s very important that you see a physician if you’ve been inactive for quite some time or you have some nagging injury or limitation,” Kaleal says.
At the very least, get a fitness assessment by a professional with a four-year college degree and certificate in an accredited training or strength-and-conditioning program such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association or the American College of Sports Medicine.
The assessment, Kaleal explains, provides the information necessary to devise a safe, effective exercise program and gives the client the self-confidence needed to embark on it — particularly if he or she has a health problem.
Instead, Kaleal advises setting three to five more easily attainable goals — for example, drinking more water (he recommends 60 to 100 ounces a day), eating a little smarter or doing 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day.
“If you know you’re doing that,”he says, “it’s going to start helping psychologically.”
They’re indiscriminate in choosing sources of instruction: Kaleal says that it’s easy to get bad advice because of the sheer number of DVDs, books and Web sites by self-proclaimed exercise gurus. Make sure the source of the information and instruction you use has been reviewed by a degreed, certified professional.
They don’t wear adequate shoes: Kaleal calls them “the most important item in the gym.” Spend $60 to $80 on a comfortable cross-trainer that provides all-around support, he advises, and try on at least three pairs before making a selection.
“You haven’t been doing much for X-number of days, months or years,” Kaleal says. “Take one more day to open up the user’s manual.”
They exercise too long and too hard for their level: “People come out of the gate thinking that they’re going to get in shape the first day,” Kaleal explains. “And then they hurt themselves, they’re miserably sore, they’re discouraged, and they stop exercising.”
They’re mentally and emotionally unprepared:“Until people understand in their hearts and minds that they’re going to make a change and can accept that it might not happen overnight, they’re not going to be successful,” Kaleal says.
Start by committing to making exercise a part of your daily routine, just like bathing and brushing your teeth. Determine how and when you can squeeze a workout into your day. And realize that it probably won’t be fun at first. “You’re not going to love being at the gym until you really start seeing results.”