If you're planning to start a gym membership soon, make sure you invest in the right tools to increase your strength and flexibility. Overdoing it too soon can lead to a lot of discomforts and may even be the reason you give up. Start small, warm up properly and don't forget to stretch as you cool down.
Boost Your Water Intake
Sometimes the simplest thing you can do to start exercising is going for a walk. While you're out, make sure you always carry water. Spend 20 minutes walking to get your legs, glutes and core warmed up before starting any other exercise. If time is short, consider walking a while, stopping and doing some light weights, then returning to the track for another lap. As you walk, make sure you're drinking. Carry a litre of water with you to the gym and try to empty it before you leave. Getting enough water can reduce the risk of cramps, dry skin, and stiffness as your muscles warm-up and cool down.
Work With a Trainer
Start out your workout plan with a personal trainer. Try to spend part of each workout perfecting your form so the addition of weight will add muscle without putting you at risk of injury. Additionally, a personal training session can mean that you will better understand how the machines at your gym work. Time with a personal trainer can be the difference between being sore and being injured.
A trainer can also help you modify moves to prevent injury. For example, if you've been sitting a lot, your low back musculature may have become lax. Planks can help to build core strength, but a modified plank can protect your low back while your abs get stronger. A watchful trainer can help you make the best and safest moves for your current condition and your future goals.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Consider adding a protein shake to your routine at some point in the day. An additional protein, particularly whey-based protein from Supplement Source in Canada, will immediately be absorbed by your body to get to work on the tiny tears in your muscles that will eventually lead to muscle growth. If you can't tolerate whey, there are many vegan protein sources that can work well. Be aware that some find protein shakes to be rather gritty. If possible, consider using coconut milk. Coconut milk has a higher viscosity than almond or cashew milk and can make for a smoother drink.
Stretch After Your Workout
No matter how short time is, don't leave the gym without stretching. Work from the bottom up. Stretch your calves and hamstrings with a simple standing forward fold. Put your hands on your hips so you can feel the crease where your hips bend when you sit down. Align your head carefully above your shoulders and imagine a string running from the base of the tailbone to the back of your skull, then bend forward and keep that string perfectly flat as you support the weight of your upper body with your hamstrings and glutes. Hold for 3 seconds, don't bounce, and come back up.
Stretch your quads and the front of your calves by steadying yourself with one hand while you pull your heel to your bottom with the other hand. Point the toe to intensify the stretch in the calf, then switch sides. Stretch to the point of burn, but never pain.
Stretch your upper body with crossovers. Put your palms flat on your shoulders with your elbows front, then draw one elbow across the chest with the other arm. To stretch your chest, put your palm flat on the wall and rotate your whole body, including your feet until the hand is slightly behind the shoulder. Do not twist at the waist to do this stretch. Go slow until you feel a pull, then hold for a few seconds before releasing.
No matter what you do in the gym, make sure to seek out variety. Take a yoga class if you're sore from lifting. Try a Zumba class if you're feeling lonely. Do tai chi if you're tired. If nothing else, walk, hydrate and clear your mind. Exercise is good for your body and your spirit.