In a world where Instagram is filled with fitness stars and a Pilates class can seem like an essential part of most morning routines, starting out on your fitness journey can be a daunting process. So, we teamed up with fitness authority Niko Algieri to create the ultimate beginner’s guide to fitness. The frontman of Equilibrium – London’s hottest new boutique studio – Niko has trained everyone from Ellie Goulding to Nicole Scherzinger. From setting achievable goals to the kit you should actually invest in, read on for his golden rules.
First things first – should you set a goal when starting your fitness journey?
Yes and no. On the one hand, a goal can encourage commitment and create a determined mind-set; you have a reason to stay focussed, to maintain your plan and be loyal to your sessions. However, goals can also set you up for failure, frustration and give you a reason to quit. Take weight loss for instance – you can watch the scales each week after eating well and training but find no difference, leaving you frustrated and unimpressed, failing to take into account that you’re starting to grow muscle and change your body shape.
My advice is to have a long-term goal – this will mean that fitness naturally becomes a habit and a sustainable part of your life.
What’s the best way to transition into working out if it’s been a while since you hit the gym?
Don’t make it a baptism of fire – do a short workout, ideally guided by an instructor or personal trainer. Make sure it’s full of mobility exercises at the start to reactivate the muscles and the joints for strenuous exercise and finish with lots of stretching. Don’t overdo it in the first week – take your time and adjust to the new increase in movement then start to develop strength and endurance.
Any advice for figuring out what kind of workout is right for you?
They won’t say it out loud, but every personal trainer or boutique class thinks their method is the best – it’s part of the job. The truth of the matter is you should try everything – do what suits your abilities, your personality and ultimately what you’re able to sustain. If you pick something you hate or get a bad vibe about you’ll quit in week one.
Are there any classes that are good for beginners?
An ideal starting point for any fitness journey is a TRX class. With the right trainer, TRX is very simple; it can be instantly made easier or harder with a quick shift of your feet. It’s a total body workout that you can take at your own pace and teaches you to move correctly, safely and develop core strength in each movement. To me, it’s the best training tool in the world.
What about diet – how should you alter this to complement a training regime?
Forget supplements and fad diets. Instead, take out all the white carbs, sweets, chocolates and crisps, reduce your alcohol intake and drink plenty of water; you will transform in four weeks, I promise.
Is it worth splurging on a personal trainer?
Definitely, but take time to find the right one for you. They need to be able to spot your weaknesses, know how to develop them, give you confidence and make you feel empowered every session. In my opinion, for total beginners who want to train safely and learn how to move properly, a PT is worth every penny. They will help you build a decent level of strength, endurance and flexibility, then when you feel confident enough you can start classes that take your fancy.
What about kit?
Many PTs will tell you to invest in minimalist trainers (or flat shoes) that make you rely on the natural shape of your foot. My advice? Ignore them, as, for many of us, wearing these types of shoes will take months and months of getting used to. Your feet are vital in exercise so prioritise comfort and support. I rate Asics – they’ve got a high arch, strong heel and can take a battering in the long-run if budget is tight.
How quickly will you see results when it comes to training?
Immediately after a training session, you will get an endorphin release of happy hormones that will reduce stress, increase self-esteem, ward off anxiety and improve sleep. By around the two-week mark, your cardiovascular capacity will improve and that, in turn, will improve your skin and the way you feel. If you’re looking after your diet then you’ll lose fat and improve your physical appearance in around four to six weeks. Remember that nutrition is key – you can’t out-train a bad diet.
Any final motivational tips?
Be patient – change takes time. If you’ve taken the step to get to the gym, that’s something in itself. It took you this long to commit to training so be patient, keep at it every day and strive for small improvements and you’ll get there.