Conquering the Weights

‘Guess what, I’ve signed up to the gym’.  ‘Oh you don’t want to go too heavy in the weight room and get big muscles. This was the first reaction I received when I enrolled into the gym. This in itself is enough to put any person off even going near a piece of equipment that has some weight to it.. I believe that joining the gym for men and women is different. For men, the first thing you ask is, is if they are going to bulk and get a six pack whilst a woman joins we immediately panic that is what she is intending to do. At the end of the day, it is your body you join a gym for what you want to do. If you want to lift 50k weights you can. If you want to listen to trance music on a cross trainer you go for it and if you if you want to do a 2012 Ev and sit in a spa for 90 minutes and call it a gym workout you go….5 years since the first gym membership, I have finally conquered a fear of lifting heavy items. 

I’m a huge fan of classes as I’ve always said. I find them both mentally and physically fun. I love how I can enter a class and release any anger, stress or energy in an hour of either pedalling to trance music, punching and kicking to trance music or dancing to Bollywood music. I love how in classes, your instructor knows you and your abilities so knows when to push; knows when to add on a gear on the bike, knows when to add a weight to your weights bar or just continue to give you a kick up the backside to push a little deeper. I am forever grateful for the instructors I do have for my classes because they know I have a tendency to get half a way and go lazy by decreasing a gear, lifting a less heavy weight or no keeping feisty and keep punching. I know I can give more, exercise classes are all about telling the tinier person in your head you’ve got more to give. 

I have always avoided any classes involving weights. I think, because I am scared of the people in these classes. The stereotype is, typically you’re in a room with hefty men lifting heavy weights in lycra or taking muscle pics in the mirror whilst the tiny girl stands bicep curling in agony. The stereotype is wrong in my case. In my case, I go to a class called Body Pump. Pump is a class created by Les Mills who you’ve probably heard me rave on about because they are the Kings of high intensity classes. Classes such as RPM, Combat and Grit. Combat being one of my favourites. 

Body Pump, however, is slightly different to combat because it doesn’t involve the aerobic punching and kicking; instead it involves a barbell workout which burns calories, shapes and tones the body whilst increasing your strength and bone health. The class has just as good music as combat, this trance hardcore music. I love how this music is the sort of music you would love to move ‘sassily’ to, in, the gym next to an attractive person…or is that how I feel? The music, I also, feels works great at complimenting the type of movement you’ll be doing. I love the music which probably makes the class so much more enjoyable. 

What does it involve? Firstly let me address the worries my family and friends are probably thinking, no I am not lifting really heavy weights with protein shakes and lots of chicken. Instead I have weights of up to 5kg next to me. Often I am using 1.25 or 3kg weights for squats, chest and back presses and shoulder lifts. I am not going to the class to go competing in body building titles, I am using the class as a way of toning up those wobbly bits and the body parts that are on show the entire time. For example the arms: are feeling a lot more toned since I began this strength building. As have my legs, I have noticed in spinning classes and power walking I can go slightly faster on a higher and steeper level without crying in agony. This is because I have built strength in these muscles to combat such higher levels.

I was persuaded by friends at my other gym classes and my instructors to start pump and introduce weights into my regime for three reasons: 

  1. Increases weight loss: the calories burnt in a class, predominately focusing around weights increase the metabolism and work off those additional calories you indulged in. In a pump class I can burn up to 500 calories…which is a great addition when I have also done combat before hand. A great calorie burn off. 
  2. Boosts mood and energy: In the same way, that you feel that you have more energy after a cardio workout, going into the weight room or entering a class about weights once a week will also give you this buzz. If I have gone for 2 5kg weights on my bar for squatting I feel 100x better, I have the positive mental attitude. If I can squat with those weights I can be even sassier in those candid photos. 
  3. Increases strength: For me, I do a lot of walking and a lot of this walking involves hills and walking at speed therefore building strength in my little legs means I can walk faster up those hills without getting tired. As I said I have noticed the difference when adding on an extra gear on my spin bike. 

How to introduce weights, the Ev way

  1. Try Body Pump: Most gyms now a days have a membership or an instructor who works with the Les Mills company so there is not an excuse to try a pump class. Give it a go, if you are a new, the instructor will not be forcing you into lifting heavy weights. So do not fear, an instructor knows what they are doing. So will see in the first hour, how heavy or lightweight you should be lifting. 
  2. Increase resistance: Doesn’t sound like adding weights into a workout since you’re not lifting weights but adding on a steeper gear on a bike or treadmill will be building your strength in your quads and glutes. So technically doing weights without you even needing to embarrass yourself in the gym. 
  3. Walk with a 1KG: Most gyms have dumbbells, which are those weights that you would use for bicep curling. These are great to hold whilst walking on a treadmill as the aerobic movement is great for toning those arms and will work both the top and bottom half of the body. 
  4. Get a playlist: If you currently have a playlist that is mainly trance based like mine for the gym add in a few bangers that are a little less Ibiza DJ. Bangers that will work in sync as you lift. 

For me adding in the weights has been great for two reasons: 1) a change: for the last 3 years I have focused mainly on cardio and ignored the weights and change is good because it’ll keep you engaged with the gym. 2) Tiny movements, Big difference: all those repetitive bicep curls are great for toning the arms and when my arms are sore the next day or feel like jelly later on in the day I know I have made a difference. I love a sculpted top half, so if my shoulders and arms look more defined and less wobbly that is great and will be a fab reason for bringing weights into my routine. Remember, No pain. No gain.  

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Disclaimer: I am not intending to get beefy muscles, or drink protein shakes or drink raw eggs. Weights are a another step in me maintaining a good body. 

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