Back in my day, if you wanted a sports bra, it had to be Nike. Adidas. Reebok. A brand. Primark had cotton leggings only, and New Look doing gym trainers? Don’t be silly.
The ‘my day’ I’m talking about was only four years ago. Since then, the fitness industry has grown at a lightning fast pace.
High street stores all have active wear lines, a career from Instagram is possible, and people are ditching the detox teas (almost) and actually eating real people food, because they’ve seen it gets real results.
My fitness journey has been four years long, and, looking back, I feel as if the first two years were all a bit pointless. If I had the education and the resources at my disposal that people beginning their journeys do now, I wouldn’t have made half as many mistakes.
So what has changed since fitness went high street, and what do I wish I’d have know when I began?
1. That you need to eat
Ever since day dot, we have be inundated with the idea of a diet. And what comes with a diet? Weight loss, fat loss, cutting calories, avoiding fat, low carb. It’s sad really, that when we think of diets and the gym, we think of losing something. I wish I had known that it was okay to eat; that it was actually normal to not be stick thin, and I wish I’d have had the strength to ignore society’s ideals and get away from the idea that skinny was good. What I know now, is that food helps. Protein, fats and carbs all help and are all needed. Muscle looks better than bone, and being skinny is not something to aim towards, ever.
2. That squats are important
Similar to my first point, the gym for me when I first began – and for most girls like me – was cardio and abs only. A weights room? Don’t be silly. Dumbbells? No thank you. But when you lose weight and fat, you lose a bit of muscle too. And I hadn’t realised that overall muscle tone was more important than having a flat stomach – and so I lost any kind of bum I had to begin with, and my legs got really small, too. I wish I’d have known that weight training was important, and that leg day was certainly important.
3. Overall muscle will make you have abs
I remember when I first saw an ab (just the one, nothing major) and it was like my whole #fitness journey had been worth it. But it had taken me longer than it should have done to get abs, and that’s because my muscle mass was low. If I had researched it a little, known more about what I was doing; I would have known and understood that overall muscle mass will equate to better, more visible abs. That training abs on their own is all well and good, but using it in compound lifts will help them out even more.
4. That no one owns a weights room
Most girls will admit that it’s a little daunting first walking into a weights room. Even picking up dumbbell is challenging: are people looking at me? Am I doing it right? Is this okay? In reality, no one actually gives a shit. Period. The guy looking at you probably thinks you’re hot, the girl staring at you from the other side of the gym is wishing she had the courage you did. Nowadays, I walk inot a weights room with ease. It is my home, my comfort zone. I give the nod to other members, have chats with people too. Often, I am the only girl there. Does it make me self-conscious, or worried? Hell no. It makes me feel happy, and I wish I’d have learnt that sooner.
5. Read. Learn. Remember.
I wish I’d have had someone to tell me what to do, or had someone point me in the direction of websites, journals, articles and sources of information to help me out. Now, I don’t stop learning: I love to research both sides of the coin (exercise and nutrition) and I believe anyone who dedicates as much of their life to this should too. There is a reason why we do everything, why we train how we do, eat what we do, but we must know why we do it and know the different ways we can optimise certain areas to ensure our results are the best they can be.This lifestyle isn’t just what you put in at the gym, but what you put in outside it as well.
Of course, these five points were knowledge before. It was knowledge four years ago, and before then, but not common knowledge. For the average person beginning their fitness journey, it wasn’t publicised. We are still inundated with teatoxes, fat burning circuits, magic diet pills that burn fat. But we are also shown healthy ways to get fit. Girls who big up weight training, influencers who show you what they eat in a day and why they eat it, and that you should eat it too. People showing us that muscle – and fat – are normal, and that girls can have biceps too. We are a long way from this indsutry being perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a few years ago, and the people helping to change it deserve a pat on the back and a big bowl of oats.