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Local experts offer six tips for getting the most from your workouts

Whether or not you’re a gym rat, you should try to get the most from your time there because exercise is work. With that in mind, Fit reached out to several local trainers for advice on how to maximize your gym experience.  

Talk to a Trainer – Nobody knows more about fitness than the pros. Buffington pointed out that most people learn about exercise either from watching others or from playing a sport, both of which are limited. Even though training costs money, the economics can still work in your favor; he helped one client realize that she was wasting $175 a month on Starbucks, and she now uses that money to attend group workout sessions a few times a week. Garnes said many trainers will create a four- to six-week exercise program for a small fee.

Set a Goal –  It’s difficult to achieve much if you don’t have a target. James Buffington, a training supervisor with Premier at Sawmill, suggested setting smaller, incremental goals and creating your schedule accordingly. Velma Garnes, a fitness instructor with several local gyms, agreed that having a plan for how to spend your time at the gym is just as important as going.

Focus Your Time at the Gym on You – You’ve made that time for yourself, use it wisely and don’t let anyone steal it from you because if you let them, they will!” Garnes said. She advised wearing earbuds, even if you aren’t using them, to signal to people that you want to be left alone. “I generally listen to music as I find that extremely motivating and it keeps me focused on the workout, especially on those days I may find it hard to focus and concentrate.”

Use a Jump Rope – Keisha Harris, owner of K Zone Fitness, strongly recommended incorporating a jump rope into workouts for many reasons: increased agility, flexibility, leg and knee strength, speed, jumping ability, heart strength, energy levels and reduced tension. “Here’s the best part,” she said, “because of all the muscles involved in using a jump rope, you can burn up to 200 calories in only 10 minutes … all without unnecessary impact to your joints.”

Do Metabolic Finishers – Metabolic finishers are short-burst, high-intensity circuits, lasting anywhere from two to 10 minutes and should be done at the end of your favorite workout,” Harris said. They are good for burning extra fat and breaking through plateaus, and she recommended the following as an example: 30 kettlebell swings, 10 pushups, 10 burpees. Complete the regimen three times with 20 seconds of rest between each circuit.

Don’t Let Your Routine Become Routine – Sometimes we get in a rut or become comfortable with a routine and forget that the body needs to be constantly challenged in new ways in order to continue changing,” said Jennifer Noble, a trainer with iResolve Fitness. She said there are three primary ways to switch up any given exercise to keep it fresh: frequency, duration and intensity. Varying one or more of those elements within any regimen – weight training, yoga, spinning, etc. – will help promote gains.

Buffington also suggested switching things up. “There is no magic in any list of exercises. There is no perfect workout,” he said. Basic strength training is essential for everyone, he said, and advised performing high-intensity interval training and Tabata workouts, in which you do more sets and reps at high intensity for short periods of time (20 seconds for example) with very brief rest (10 seconds) in between. “There is specificity to training. This means that the training should be specific to the goal or desire of a new or improved ability.”

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