health

You've never really exercised but want to start. So now what?

How does one even become a dancer?

 

By NATALIA HAWK

So you want to take up yoga but you have literally no idea what to do.

And you’re a bit nervous about going to a class, because you don’t know what to expect and what if all the other people are all professionals and they laugh at you when you fall over halfway through a downward dog?

I reckon there are so many Australian women out there who are avoiding exercise because they’re just not quite sure how to get started. After all, the fitness world is a daunting one. There are so many classes, so many gyms, so many options open to you – how does one pick between Zumba and tennis? And if one picks tennis, do you really have to wear a tennis skirt or will shorts do?

I’ve put together this little guide for you in case you’ve always contemplated trying something, but never known quite how to take the leap into actually starting.

So you want to start…

– Running

You really can’t go past the Couch to 5km app for a beginner’s guide to running. It’s designed for those who really aren’t even sure if they can run to the end of their own street, so it starts off really easy and then gradually builds up over a number of weeks until you can comfortably run 5km. The app allows you to play your own music so that you stay motivated, and tells you when it’s time to start running or start walking, to warm up and to warm down.

Make sure you also stretch before and after your workout so you’re not too sore the next day.

Also – contemplate Googling a running club in your area and signing up for one – it’s a good way to be surrounded by like-minded people and stay motivated.

You’ll need: Running shoes (buy a new pair if yours are old – they’ll do more harm than good), a great sports bra (it’s a high-impact activity), regular workout gear.

Do not think that you’re a failure if you cannot do this yoga pose. (Thanks Miranda Kerr)

– Yoga

Yoga is fantastic in that it’s well-suited to any level of flexibility or balance. So even if you know you can’t balance on one leg, don’t stress – there are many different options for poses and, if you do a class, your teacher will take you through them. And don’t worry about other people judging you – everyone’s generally wrapped up in their own practise to worry about long you can hold a tree pose.

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There are plenty of studios all over Australia where you can just go along for one class to try it out. Alternatively, download a yoga app onto your phone and give that a go.

You’ll need: Any clothes that you feel comfortable in, including a jumper if you tend to get chilly – many classes have a meditation component at the end. Most yoga classes will have mats available so you don’t have to buy one – take a towel along if you want to lay it over the mat.

– Dancing

You used to do ballet as a kid but you haven’t tried it since. That’s okay. Whether it’s hip-hop, Zumba, ballet, jazz, contemporary, salsa or tap – it’s very likely that there is a beginner class out there, near you, just waiting for you to walk into.

Have a quick Google in your area to scope out places where you can just try one class (no point signing up for a whole term if you hate it), and make sure it’s a beginner class so you don’t feel completely out of depth trying to keep up with a complicated routine (Sydney-siders – Sydney Dance Company down at Walsh Bay is EXCELLENT). Be prepared to laugh a lot and maybe take a friend along. In the end, it’s not all about getting the steps exactly right – it’s about fun.

Alternatively, just turn up the music and dance around your own house. Still a good workout.

You’ll need: Depends on the class, but for most, you won’t need dance shoes – bare feet, socks or runners will generally be fine. Ask the studio when you sign up just to be sure. Normal workout gear will also suit for most – no need to go out and buy a leotard.

– Weight-training

It can be really difficult to start weight-training at the gym – especially when you’re overwhelmed by a choice of machines and free weights. Best thing you can do is line up a session with a personal trainer who will come up with a series of workouts to suit your body and your goals. Write it down as you go along so that you don’t forget for next time.

If you want to do weights at home, a good idea is to buy a weights-specific workout DVD that tells you exactly what to do. That way, you’ll avoid injury and you’ll have some guidance. Michelle Bridges weights at Big W come with a DVD – clever.

Swim time, anyone?

– Swimming

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Swimming works every muscle in your body and it’s low-impact too, making it a great workout for those who are worried about putting stress on their joints. However, if you don’t regularly swim, go easy on yourself – your cardio system and muscles need to work completely differently in water than they do on land.

Start off by mixing up your laps with different strokes and different intensities. Don’t worry about taking rest stops after doing a lap – your heart rate doesn’t drop as quickly as it does when you’re walking or running. Use a kickboard if you need to get used to the feel of being back in the water. Just do as many laps as you can.

You’ll need: Swimmers (and not just any old beach bikini – a proper one-piece that you won’t be stopping to adjust every two minutes),a  cap (makes you more streamlined) and goggles. Spend big on the goggles if you can – it’s so worth it. Most pools will have kickboards already available for use. Save the flippers for snorkeling.

Netball/touch footy/another team sport

The best way to learn so many team sports is simply by playing them. And the great majority of sports have a lot of different levels, so you can easily join a beginner’s team to get to know how to play.

Look for information about club sign-ups in your local paper a few months before the season’s due to begin (eg – for netball, start looking in January or February). Or check out the website of your local district sport to see when their sign-ups begin.

You’ll need: Depends on the sport – make sure to ask when you sign up. Try to recruit a friend to sign up with you if possible so you have a partner in crime.

– Surfing/sailing/kite-surfing/diving/horse-riding/boxing/ice-skating/tennis/skiing/snowboarding/bob-sled

Save yourself the potential embarrassment/frustration/pain and sign up for a lesson.

The Athlete’s Foot want you to get out of the house and get involved in the 2013 running season. For the next fourteen weeks, you can Tweet or Instagram a picture/post/video of yourself pounding the pavement with the hashtag #IDIDIT for your chance to win a free fitting and pair of running shoes from The Athlete’s Foot. Oh, and don’t forget to tag @theathletesfootaustralia. Visit the website for more details. Happy running!