Some are causal, but for some working out is a passion; an obsession; a way of life. Honing and refining is a science – not an exact one, but one that can be studied and improved on nonetheless.
There are many different types of gym goer. There’s the fad fitness fan: the one that goes every day for a fortnight before ditching the weights and counting down the days until their membership runs out before only to binge on another health kick. There’s the casual attendee: the one who slides in for a session once a week just to keep the worst of the muffin top at bay. There’s the gym monster: the one who only needs look at a weight to put on an extra 10 kilos of muscle. There’s the grunter, the growler, the poser, the cardio maniac . . . the list is endless.
There’s a gym culture that doesn’t accept weakness, or cutting corners or excuses; it’s all about maximizing the time spent with you and that equipment. Pumping iron is a culture not a fad.
People exercise for a lot of different reasons. Some do it because they need to lose weight, and others do it because it helps them relieve emotional stress and improve their concentration. Some even workout socially as a way to spend time with friends.
If you are reading this, and exercise is already part of your life, you are doing the right thing. Different types of exercise help with different goals. For example, cardiovascular fitness helps build endurance, improves cardiovascular health, and is one of the world’s most effective remedies for mild psychological depression. Yoga, Pilates, and certain types of dance, such as ballet and belly dance can improve flexibility. Only some of the people who exercise regularly do it with the primary goal of making their physical appearance more athletic; these are the ones who exercise in pursuit of the fitness model shape.
If you have seen fitness models, they look very different from the general population. They generally have very little body fat, and almost all of the muscles in their arms, legs, and torso are well-defined. If you do not look like a fitness model, it does not mean that you are not healthy or fit. Developing a fitness model shape requires you to spend time developing each muscle individually and also to eat a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
The first step in attaining the fitness model figure is to avoid getting injured during a workout. Nothing will ruin your physical fitness faster than having to take weeks or months off from the gym because of an injury. When you finally get back to working out, it can feel like you are starting from zero. It is easier than you think to sustain an injury while working out. Lifting weights without a spotter and lifting weights that are too heavy for you can lead to serious injury. When you increase the amount of weight you lift, increase it gradually. If 50 pounds on one machine feels too light, increase it to 60, and if that is too light, increase it to 70. Do not go straight from 50 to 100. Even a seemingly foolproof exercise life running or jogging can cause injuries. Over half of the people who include running and jogging in their fitness regimens have sustained at least one injury, from temporary foot and leg pain to stress fractures. When running, it is important to wear supportive shoes and to bend your legs enough, since straightening your legs too much when you run can cause knee pain.
If you are working toward a fitness model physique, it is important to have a well-organised workout routine and to stick to it. For example, you might do cardio on Mondays and Thursdays, weight training on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Pilates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even if you only exercise for a short time on those days, it is better than letting several days go by without exercising. It is also important to eat enough before your workout so that you do not get really hungry after you finish working out and feel tempted to eat lots of unhealthy snacks. If your gym has a snack bar, it is a good idea to have a smoothie with your friends after your workout. That way, you still get the social experience of going out for food or drinks after your workout, but you are not getting the empty carbs that you would get from ice cream or pizza and beer.
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