What should you wear to the gym? Simple answer.
Whatever you feel comfortable in.
And that answer is fine if you spend a lot of time training and know what does and doesn’t work for you. This blog isn’t for you though.
Because that answer isn’t very helpful if you are thinking about starting some form of exercise in the New Year and really don’t know what to wear. Then it’s just another obstacle to getting started. I know because years ago when I was overweight and knew that I probably needed to do something not knowing what I should wear (and not feeling comfortable in a ton of lycra) was a good enough excuse to keep putting getting started off.
So here’s some tips to get started:
- You don’t need to spend lots of new kit. If you want to and can afford it and it will make you feel more confident by all means go splurge in Victoria Secrets. If you’re starting to dip your toe into the water you don’t need to though – go to Sports Direct or Primark and buy a couple of pairs of bottoms, a couple of tops and a couple of pairs of socks (and if youre female a couple of sports bras). They don’t need to be any fancy materials to start, as long as you feel comfortable and can move about in them they will work to get you started. As you get more into training and get to decide what you enjoy doing you can then invest in kit that works for that particular sport in time – right now those expensive compression running tops could be a waste of money if you find out that really you much prefer Zumba.
- You don’t need super expensive trainers. Same as with clothes. Once you settle on a sport or area of training you may wish to invest in certain shoes (lifting shoes, dance shoes, running shoes, cycle shoes) but to start just buy a pair of trainers that are comfortable. Think about what you are planning on doing. If you are going to try classes out a trainer with a spin spot on the sole (a circle type mark on the sole will indicate this) can be useful as it allows you to turn on the spot (which you will do in most dance based classes but is also useful in classes such as Body Combat) – most trainers in the ‘studio’ section on a sports store website will have this. These shoes will also work well if you plan on venturing into the gym. If you are going to go running look for a trainer in the running section of the store / website- it doesn’t need to be expensive right now. For cycling classes you may eventually want to be a cycle shoe you can use cleats with but until you know it’s the exercise for you just pick a trainer with a decent sole (very thin soles will make the class a little painful).
- You don’t need to wear very fitted clothes. Of course you can if that’s what makes you feel good but don’t feel the pressure to go super skimpy lycra clad if that will make you feel self conscious. People wear all sorts of things to the gym from baggy tops to brightly coloured comic strip style leggings so whatever style will make you feel good is the style to pick and if that means covering up or wearing something loose go for it (just try and make sure it’s not so baggy it impedes safe movement / is something you risk tripping up on!)
- You don’t need to expose lots of flesh. As above, wear what makes you feel good. Some people like wearing shorts or a crop top to train in, others people prefer to wear leggings and vest tops or long sleeve tops – it has nothing to do with how ‘fit’ people are or what their abs look like – it’s just personal preference as to what makes people feel comfortable whilst training so go as covered or uncovered as you wish.
- Your basic kit shopping list might look something like this:
- Gym bag (big enough to fit everything in)
- A sports bra (females) and a comfortable pair of knickers / Boxers
- Leggings or shorts
- A comfortable, breathable top (t shirt, vest, crop top) – not something like a jumper because you’ll just be too hot
- Hair bobble if you have long hair
- Water bottle
- Small towel
The final week of Shred saw us repeating the tests carried out in week 1 to check for progress over the last 6 weeks and an increase of calories to maintenance levels.
Despite having not done all training sessions over the last five weeks I’ve found my lifts increasing slightly across the board and despite probably (ok definitely) not being in a calorie deficit every week across the Christmas period I still discovered I’d lost almost 2kg in that time. Not only that I feel like i look stronger (not leaner just a little more muscle definition)
To me this just goes to show that it isn’t hitting a gym plan as hard as you possibly can or measuring every morsel of food that passes your lips that gets you results. Instead it’s just training consistently around your life and eating well without restricting yourself. The fact I am going into Christmas Day having eaten practically every Christmas food going on a seeming loop for the last 23 days yet still feel fit, healthy and in decent shape shows what the power of just making positive choices as and when you can has.
Will I need to reign in the eating a bit in January? Yes probably, I know I’ve eaten less homemade food and fewer vegetables the last few weeks and I won’t feel great if that continues for much longer, but that’s about as much of a change as I feel I need.
Are you going into January feeling like you need an overhaul or like you are already on track? Hopefully it’s the later, but if it isn’t I would urge you to assess how you plan to approach your diet and training in the new year and to find something that allows you to feel in control regardless of how hectic life gets in 2020.
Most days I train / teach three times a day: before work, lunchtime and after work. This means twice a day I shower and get ready for work in a gym changing room. I normally have 10- 20 minutes to do this so I’m pretty used to getting dressed fast (and I’m probably at the low maintenance end of low maintenance to be honest – if you’ve met me you have probably seen me without make up on and almost definitely on a day when I haven’t brushed my hair).
So when someone said they couldn’t train at lunchtime because they wouldn’t have time to shower etc. afterwards it got me thinking who else is put off by this and I decided to list my tips for a quick no frills routine which might help anyone who wants to train around work but is put off by the post sweat grooming issue!
- Pack your bag the night before so you know you won’t forget anything. When I forget my bra or one shoe it’s always because I’ve packed in a rush that morning.
- Buy a camping towel- a) they are lightweight and fold up small b) They dry quickly and don’t retain water so don’t make your gym bag wet and heavy after use
- Pack a wash bag with all the things you will need and it leave in your gym bag at all times – this is less than you think: shower gel (or not – some gyms have those little shower gel dispensers in the showers), shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste – anything else just adds unnecessary time
- Minimise your routine as much as you can – quick shower, 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner – if you have to wash your hair (I’m not so much of a tomboy that I’d go as far as suggesting combined body and hair wash but to be fair it is an option)
- Baby oil is great as moisturiser – makes your skin super soft but much quicker than a lotion as you can put it on whilst your skin is still wet
- Baby wipes and dry shower gel (it exists- try Boots) are great cheats if you didn’t do too much cardio – you will know if you can get away with this or not on any given day (more often than not the answer is no but they are useful for emergencies none the less)
- Dry shampoo is also your friend. As are high pony tails/ the scraped back / Croydon Facelift pony tail.
- You actually need to wash your hair less often than you think even after training. Give it twenty minutes and it will dry out and won’t actually smell – I wash my hair maybe 2/3 times a week max.
- Don’t waste time doing the towel dance. All women know what the towel dance is and quite frankly it’s a waste of time. A) Nobody is looking at you and b) you normally end up being naked for longer whilst trying to put your knickers on balancing on one leg and holding a towel round you than if you just got dressed.
- Whilst I’m at it – do not be one of those people who gets dressed in the shower- you will get your clothes wet and you are holding up the people waiting.
- Pack clothes which don’t crease – I’m fond of lycra.
- If you can get away with not wearing tights you will save at least five minutes- putting on tights when you’ve just exercised is almost as much exercise as taking your sports bra off after a session.
- You don’t need to put on lots of makeup after a workout- keep it minimal and take advantage of the natural glow your skin will now have to speed up the process of putting on your make up
- Get your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted if having a bare face isn’t an option – this will save valuable drawing on yourself time!
- Work out what your gym has in the way of hairdryers – if they have them don’t pack one! I personally don’t blow dry my hair as it dries by itself in about 15 minutes but I’m led to believe that’s not usual.
- Do you actually need to straighten your hair?
Getting ready for work is dull and should take as little time as possible anyway – don’t let it stop you from getting a workout in – life is too short.
Note: This is a bit of a blog for the girls really- I’m going to assume most men are pretty much wash and go anyway but if not please re-read the above!
Week Five saw a massive physical challenge in the form of an Iron Man across the week.
In case you are unfamiliar this is 180km cycle, 42 km run and 4km swim (or a 20km row as a sub). That, I probably don’t need to clarify, is a lot of cardio.
I knew at the start of the week it would be a challenge, I had a full week of work and classes plus two Christmas events which would take up time I could potentially train in but I decided to give it a go.
Day 1 I did a few KM and on day 2 after work spent over an hour on a stationary bike followed by a row. However on day 3 I made a decision that I wouldn’t be able to complete it, for one simple reason. Sleep.
I had skipped an early night on Tuesday to fit in a cycle and was feeling the effects from that. I know I already don’t get as much sleep as would be considered healthy and to complete the challenge I would need to reduce that amount further.
I decided that it wasn’t worth it to complete a challenge- what is the point of being able to push your body but not looking after it in other ways?
So what did this week teach me? It taught me I know how to listen to my body and look after my health in more ways than just train and that I do actually practice what I preach in terms of holding myself accountable to the same things I would say to clients and class members. It also taught me I really do need more sleep!
So did I succeed on week 5? Do I mind? Nope, not at all!
So we’re now only a couple of weeks away from Christmas as celebrations, parties, catch ups are in full swing. Chances are the Christmas Eating probably started around a fortnight ago but as things step up you inevitably end up more and more tempted over the coming days.
If you’re trying to lose weight this can feel like a tricky time of the year. On the one hand you want to join in but in the other you don’t want to undo the work you’ve put in already. So how do you tackle food at Christmas?
– Stick to your normal eating habits and say no to everything until the big day. Bit dull but you’ll stay in track
– Say yes to everything, fuck it until January. You’ll probably see some weight gain but you’ll have fun
– Have the odd day / night ‘off’ but eating normally the rest of the time
– Manipulate your calories do you can enjoy food but stay within your calorie target – perhaps skipping breakfast if you’re out later or having more low calorie but filling foods (veg) to allow you to save calories for later. You could even use your calories over a week and have lower calorie data
Me? I’m a mixture I suppose. I’m still meal prepping and keeping an eye on what I eat but I’m also grazing on the endless shortbread supply at work and last night had two of each courses (yep it was a three course meal) at the work do (I’ll be honest there were 3 more spare deserts left on my table but I thought 5 deserts might be excessive). I’m taking the view that if I eat my normal food I’ll maybe eat less Christmas food overall but I also don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
How you approach Christmas food is going to depend on how keen you are to reach a goal in a certain time or how much you enjoy all the food that comes with Christmas. There’s no right or wrong way of approaching it as long as you know what effect your choice will have on your diet and are happy with that decision.