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Of course, sport is above-all a leisure activity (unless you’re an Olympic athlete), but it’s hard to deny that it’s a hobby that carries huge benefits to your physical, emotional and psychological health too. That’s probably why so many people are choosing to enrol in sports and fitness classes!
First and foremost there are the physical benefits of exercise that we can easily see. Young people who practise sport regularly often have much better coordination, agility, flexibility and general fitness throughout their lives. Adults who practise sport regularly find that they can manage their weight better – without crash dieting – and often maintain their fitness to a later age.
And then there are also many benefits that you can’t see too… Increased fitness leads to stronger heart and lungs, reduced risk of illness and chronic diseases, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Practising exercise can also help you to strength your muscles, bones and joints.
Those who exercise regularly also enjoy increased wellbeing and happiness. Fitness and exercise helps young people build their confidence, social skills and teamwork abilities. Sport has also been shown to improve performance in education, resulting in lower drop out rates in school, improved attainment and reduced absenteeism.
Even one session of moderate exercise can reduce anxiety, and regular exercise is shown to lift your mood, help to deal with depression and improve sleep patterns. Not only does exercise alter the hormone levels in your brain (for example, serotonin and dopamine), but it can almost be meditative. Activities such as running can help to you to process news or think things through, whereas yoga might help you to release tension from your body.
Finally, attending fitness classes or practising team sports are a great way to socialise, meet new people and make new friends!
That’s just fitness in general, remember that each different sport or discipline comes with its own benefits…
All the same, it can be difficult to start out in a new sport or fitness activity.
The easiest way get going in a new sport is to just to sign up for a class, but that in itself can be challenging. Often the greatest hurdle is getting out of the door and ignoring all those little excused that tend to get in the way. Of course, Youtube videos, blogs, books and advice from friends is a good way to ease in – but be wary of picking up bad habits.
Another hurdle is staying motivated consistently. Sure, that first week you were doing Pilates every morning with Youtube tutorials and hitting the gym every evening. But what about the week after? And the week after that? All of a sudden, you’re four weeks into your new fitness regime and you’re hitting the snooze button every morning rather than getting up and out there! Make arrangements with friends to practise fitness or schedule it into your diary to make sure you stick to those plans and stay motivated – it’s much more enjoyable to exercise with a friend than alone!
Some have the opposite problem: too much motivation! ‘How can too much motivation be a problem?’ you ask… Well, too much too soon can easily end up in injury, putting you out of action for weeks or months at a time. Harness that motivation and use it to get out there, but make sure you’re listening to your body too: if your body says it needs rest, give it time to rest!
Many people feel nervous, intimidated or a little embarrassed when they’re learning any new hobby, this can often be a huge barrier to participation in sports and fitness activities for those who aren’t used to hanging out in gyms, fitness centres and studios. It’s natural to feel a little out of place at first but booking onto a gym tour or visiting with a friend who has been before will help you to hit the ground running.
Picking up bad habits in sports and fitness activities can be dangerous and result in injury. This is particularly relevant in activities like weightlifting and yoga, where good form and posture is essential so that you don’t sustain any muscular or spinal injuries. Activities such as rock climbing involve procedures and equipment to designed to prevent accidents so any bad habits here could be very dangerous. As a beginner, knowing how to prevent injury when exercising for can be very difficult, you can take advice from friends but be sure to check with an expert too!
Gosh, the fitness stuff sounds challenging now! But don’t let all this prevent your from improving your fitness with a new sport or physical activity. There are a whole host of channels through which you can seek support for your new sporting pursuits, including getting a tutor or instructor to help you on your way.
Fitness tutors and instructors are experts in their field, making them incredibly helpful if you’re taking up a new sport.
Not only will they be able to advise you on equipment and how to improve, but they’ll help you stay motivated too: you can’t cancel on your instructor just to have a lie in, after all. If at some point you hit the dreaded plateau, your tutor will help to keep your spirits up and put things into perspective. They might even adapt your training to target weaknesses that are holding you back and give you drills to help you push through that plateau. Sometimes you’ll need to do the drills you don’t enjoy to make progress (like hill sprints for many runners); your trainer will encourage you to persevere with the elements of sport that you struggle with so that you keep seeing improvement.
Youtube videos are all well and good for advising you on form, but youtubers can’t give you feedback and pick up on your bad habits; an instructor can though. Aside from improving your performance, your instructor or tutor is responsible for helping you stay safe. They do this by ironing out potentially injurious technique, ensuring you understand how to use certain equipment and helping you to push yourself just the right amount. For activities such as weightlifting, an instructor may design your training programme to be well-rounded, working antagonist muscles on some days to avoid muscle imbalances and conditions such as tendonitis. That way, you can progress safely.
For newcomers to sport and fitness, starting slow and building up gradually is the best bet for a long and happy relationship with fitness. An instructor will help you to increase your activity at the right pace.
Fitness classes are increasingly popular so there’s a huge range of group class options available for you to choose between, from park-based bootcamps and parkour classes to Pilates in a dedicated studio or weightlifting courses at the gym. For those after guidance and advice in an informal setting, regular meets (like running or cycling clubs) are an excellent place to start.
What’s great about group sessions is that you can reap the social rewards of exercise, meeting like-minded people and expanding your social horizons. However, you shouldn’t expect an instructor to be able to tailor a group session to your specific needs: the session will follow a rough structure and cover areas for everyone to work on rather than working your specific weaknesses. If you find this frustrating and are looking for more personalised training, consider finding a private trainer to guide you on your fitness journey.
In 1:1 training sessions you set the pace and your aspirations set the purpose. Your instructor can devote time to working on your weaknesses, identify your strengths and create session plans according to your abilities and goals. You’ll get more feedback in a private session, allowing you to iron out those bad habits and progress much quicker.
The sports sector is booming, so there are many options available to you when you’re looking for a fitness instructor. There may be group classes in your town or city, as well as many independent personal trainers, and gyms and fitness centres often have in-house personal trainers that you can book in with too. All the same, sometimes it’s impossible to find exactly what you’re looking for…
Or is it… have you tried looking on Superprof? With over 2000 fitness trainers and instructors on our UK database, you can find a tutor for anything from gymnastics to pole fit, weightlifting to nutrition. Our instructors come from varied backgrounds and set their rates according to location, experience levels and demand. You can search based on your priorities – price, teaching format, etc. – and each profile is set out the same, making them easily to compare. Read recommendations from former students to give you an idea of their style or take up the offer of a free first lesson to work out if it’s a good fit.
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