Growing up it was always easy for me to be active. Between swimming, baseball and gymnastics from ages 3-14, I was always moving. However, when I injured my back and was no longer able to do sports I didn’t really know what to do anymore.
For a while, completing my physiotherapy rehab exercises was all I could manage. As the pain started to subside, my body felt like it needed to do more. I started going to the gym and doing a lot of cardio, either on the elliptical, stair master, or the rowing machine because it was something I enjoyed but also I knew how those machines worked. Despite being an elite level gymnast, I didn’t really know what to do in a fitness gym because we did all of our training in the gymnastics gym. I started trying to use some machines, like the leg press, or chest press but mostly would use dumbbells or my own body weight. I would try to mimic workouts that I remember doing in gymnastics, but I no longer needed to train that way.
Most of my workouts were either too easy or way too hard, but more importantly they were inconsistent. I’d go through phases where I was going to the gym 6 days a week and other times where I wouldn’t step foot in a gym for weeks on end. I wasn’t able to find a routine I enjoyed. Part of the problem was I didn’t know what I was doing but the bigger issue is I didn’t know why I was doing it. As an elite level gymnast, all of my workouts were done to help make me a better athlete or to help prevent injuries. Now I was exercising because I thought I had to but with no real goals in place.
It wasn’t until I was in university getting my degree as a kinesiologist that I finally started to get into a good routine. For me the more I learned about the human body and why exercise was so important, the more I wanted to learn. I started researching different exercises and equipment in gyms, how to build a proper workout routine, and how to make goals that I could actually reach. I finally understood how to properly periodize a workout so I was getting slow improvements over time.
Now, when I am planning a workout/workout plan for myself or for a client I try and remember a few key principles:
- Progressive Overload – this means a slow increase in load, either increasing reps or resistance
- When increasing load always increase repetitions first, and then resistance after. When resistance is increased, reps should be decreased.
- Rest days are not only important, but needed for proper recovery and for your muscles to be able to grow
- Anything is better than nothing – if you aren’t feeling like you’re head is in your workout but you’ve only done half of it, it’s better to stop and avoid injuring yourself than trying to push through
- Make sure your workouts are structured in a way to match your goals – don’t just go to the gym and pick up heavy weights because you think you should but always consider why you are doing each exercise
- And finally make sure you’re doing something that you enjoy! Whether it’s cardio based, strength based, or anything in between as long as you enjoy it you’ll be able to stick to it for life!