Like many women, I'd sooner attend a fitness class than work out in the testosterone-filled weights room. This isn't because their big beefy frames intimidate me - I just don't have a clue what to do.
In a class, you're taught along by an instructor who knows how to work key muscle groups and avoid injury, on the gym floor - you're often on your own.
So, as part of my personal Operation Self-Improvement - which involved taking a long, hard look at my lifestyle and doing some much-needed spring cleaning - I embarked on a series of personal training sessions to not only kickstart my fitness regime, but help my workouts be more effective.
Having regular PT sessions at Grace Belgravia with Valentina - an amazing trainer from the Matt Roberts gym - was like a wake-up call. Suddenly someone who used to 'forget' their trainers for PE, was being given fitness tips in the same gym that Cara and Poppy Delevingne train in.
My first session involved having a fitness assessment. Somewhat naively, I thought this meant timing how fast I could run 200m and seeing how many press ups I could do in 30 seconds. But instead it was an in-depth analysis of my alignment, flexibility, strength and posture.
After taking my height and weight (*shudders*), Valentina attached electrodes to my right hand and foot to measure my fat-to-muscle ratio.
Then she had me perform a series of tasks - deep squats, lunges, arm and leg raises - to check my alignment. I learnt that my knees face inwards because my glutes and hips aren't strong enough, she also spots that I arch my back and tilt my pelvis forward - something I blame on having a big backside - but this could cause injury.
Apart from being eye-opening and quite depressing, these nuggets of information help show what work I need to do in order to reach my fitness goals.
So here are the five things I learnt from having regular personal trainer sessions:
You have to master the technique before anything else
At least you're exercising right? Wrong - even if what your doing isn't dangerous, not doing things correctly means you could be working wrong muscle groups - paying attention and self-correction will help meet goals faster.
My entire first session (after the initial assessment) was focussed entirely on perfecting posture - you feel a real difference when you get it right.
Think about your body in sections
Hard-core male gym goers often separate their body to exercise - one day will focus on arms, the next on back, then chest etc. But this technique shouldn't be restricted to the fellas.
When hitting the gym regularly - and doing weight training - Valentina recommends alternating between upper body and lower body so that you have time to recover.
For lower body exercises try squats, lunges, side lunges, the stepper and cycling. For upper body do chest press, bicep curls, tricep dips, dead lifts and press ups.
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There is no shortcut to reaching your fitness goals
Over a month of sessions (2 per week) I thought I'd become a superhero - faster, stronger, bendier - but a PT can't give you that.
Unless you're loaded and have 2-3 sessions per week for the rest of your life, personal trainers are there to guide and motivate you. But the rest is up to you.
Strength training just as important as cardio
You can't change your body from just doing cardio. Strength training is really important - not just to sculpt muscles, but to prevent osteoporosis.
By and large women should be using weights in a different way to men. Most women want to achieve a leaner body type - not bulk up, but tone. This, I'm told, can be achieved by using lower weights, not heaviest you can hold, and doing lots of reps.
Don't get stuck in a rut
I was prescribed a series of different exercises to do to achieve my goals, so remember to think outside the box.
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