5 things I wish I’d known before starting a fitness routine

I consider myself a consummate researcher, so about five years ago when I decided to take up an exercise program, I did as much research as I could possibly do. But no matter how thorough I was, there were still some nuggets of wisdom that managed to get past me.

It’s not necessary to buy lots of hand weights.

Maybe it was some form of OCD, but when I started buying free weights, I was convinced that I needed to buy a pair in every size combination available to man, 6 pounds, 7 pounds, 8 pounds, 9 pounds…you get the idea. In my defense, I have really small hands, and I was worried that using two five pounders to sub for a single ten pounder would mean I couldn’t keep a grip on both of them But I finally realized that I was throwing money away, and at the very least I could start adding reps to each move to make up for the muscle I was planning on adding. Which leads me to the next revelation.

I’m just not going to build muscle, ever.

I need to face facts—I was born with a lean body that simply won’t put on muscle. I’m an Ectomorph and I’m a woman. No matter how many reps, no matter how heavy the weight, my body will never bulk up and have those nice feminine muscles I secretly always wanted. If I’m lucky I’ll have a nice lean yoga body. Now don’t get me wrong—my shoulders and back look nice after I’ve been training for a while, they just will never look sculpted and prominent like those pictures of body builders you see online. The people that you think subconsciously you “should” look like after you get started.

Blowing up a stability ball is a pain in the rear.

I brought one home from the store a few months ago because when I moved I had to give it up for space in the truck. Apparently, this purchase came with the  cheapest air pump the company could possibly provide. So I had to just push that sucker with my foot like some overly enthusiastic organist on Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately for me, I had decided earlier to just blow it up and then start doing my weight training. I wound up so tired from the effort that I had to take a break on the couch after I got the stupid thing blown up. I was totally humiliated.

Resistance bands are not made for short people.

I’m going to have to stick up for my fellow vertically challenged Americans—some things just don’t come in petite sizes. And that includes most resistance bands made for the lower body. I tried to do some fancy shortening by looping the bands under my feet. But to my chagrin they always popped out and wound up too long for me to do any good. So I just went back to my hand weights. This is the same reason why I don’t use gym equipment—it takes too long to adjust the machines, and I’m not the “gym bunny” type who flirts with big strong men to get help with adjusting machines. I keep thinking that some enterprising fitness company should come up with products targeted towards petites, but I’m sure there just isn’t a market to sustain us.

My iPhone is just too cool for me

When I started running, I would do two minutes of running followed by three blessed ones of walking. To my annoyance, as soon as I started running, my carefully crafted and timed playlist would skip as soon as I started running. Turns out the iPod and iPhones are designed for apps that use shaking as a way to work, so you have do disable this to keep the machine from doing that while running.

Tight hamstrings mean restroom breaks are a pain

I’m cursed with tight hamstrings, which means in my case that when I start an exercise program—especially a weight training one—my hamstrings take the brunt of the work. And that makes sitting down, whether at an office chair or otherwise, a pretty painful proposition. And it means that it takes a lot longer to sit down and get up. You hear a lot of advice about how muscle soreness is a bad thing, but rarely does anyone go into detail about how it affects your daily activities.

So, what about you? What tidbits of wisdom did you wish you knew going in?


  1. says

    Great post. I have to start exercising and getting fit again. I am having problems getting motivated to go into the gym at the moment, so reading your blog helps.

    • says

      Thanks, I’ve found that sometimes I have the hardest time getting motivated when things are going well. Sometimes being down is helpful because I’ll go over there just to cheer myself up and it beats downing a six pack of soft drinks.

  2. Cathi Carmack says

    Can’t identify with your leanness (trade ya!) or the iPhone one, but the others are SO dead on! Especially the stability ball! I’m trying to get motivated too, and doing a very poor job at this point!

    • says

      I kept thinking “What the heck is WRONG with this thing??” And I had to Google it to figure out what the deal was. But apparently it’s designed for apps like Urban Spoon to use shaking to work.

  3. says

    ‘like some overly enthusiastic organist on Easter Sunday’ genius, pure genius :-) The image that created made me howl! It almost makes the nasty business of exercise tolerable!

    At the moment I’m staying away from any form of machinery. You name it I’ve bought it in the past. I use it for a little while and then it becomes a clothes prop :-) At the moment I’m dancing with the aid of my daughter’s Wii. The fact that I can’t keep up with her doesn’t bother me a bit….well, maybe a little.

  4. says

    There are a lot of things I wish I had known, but my biggest one is: I wish I had known how HARD it would be! Getting in shape and healthy is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it’s SO worth it!

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