Master the basics before taking up high intensity workouts like Parkour and Cross-fit, say trainers

There has to be a method to the fitness madness that grips many of us each January, else, we’d be falling off the fitness radar barely weeks after taking up a regime. Fitness experts believe in learning and unlearning each year. “Fitness is a journey, not a destination,” emphasises trainer Faiyaz Ali. Cross-fit technique, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Parkour training and dancercise figure among international trends and in a way, have made inroads into the city.

No quick fix

Trainers view this with a pinch of salt and warn that mindless following of international trends can lead to injuries in beginners. The focus should be on learning the basics, strength training and knowing how to use your own body weight. “Cross-fit is an advanced technique, ideal for athletes. The regimen is fast paced, involves doing burpees and dead-lifts, which I wouldn’t recommend for beginners. Cross-fit, Parkour and Zumba can be strenuous for those who are starting off, especially those who have flat feet; I’ve seen people end up with knee injuries,” says Faiyaz.

The online information overload has helped many realise that it’s pointless to do hundreds of crunches to fight abdomen flab. Enough writing and videos assert the need to work the entire body, with special focus on strengthening the core and back muscles. “I’m happy more people understand that quick-fix routines don’t work in the long run. There is certainly more awareness,” concedes trainer Dinaz Verwatwala. But she feels there’s a lot more learning to be done: “Many who come to my aerobics and Zumba sessions feel they can eat all they want since they are burning off those calories. An hour of jumping around cannot negate the effects of a bad diet,” she underscores.

Dinaz feels a clientele that wants specific results opts for personal training while others have moved towards fun routines like aerobics and dance. “I’ve noticed students getting bored if we don’t change the kind of music played frequently. I alternate slow-paced songs with fast ones. Students new to Zumba pick up the moves during the slow songs and for others, this is a chance to catch their breath,” she explains.

Irrespective of the regime, trainers reiterate the need to master the basics. “Follow the instructor; also make the mirror your best friend. If you don’t look graceful while doing the moves, something is amiss. Listen to your body and stop the moment you sense an uncomfortable pain. For example, squats done the wrong way can lead to knee injuries,” says Faiyaz.

Gavin Holt, the go-to trainer for many sportspersons, bodybuilders and actors, suggests setting the right goals. “Identify the reason to workout — weight loss or building endurance. There are many online videos and mobile phone applications that teach different exercises but I wouldn’t recommend learning that way. One has to know what suits his/her body type. Take doctor’s advice if there is a specific medical condition. It’s good to draw inspiration from others but don’t overdo the workouts and expect to reach their level of fitness in a few weeks. It would have taken them a long time to reach there and it isn’t going to be a cakewalk,” he says. Like Dinaz, he too insists the importance of a balanced diet with good workouts.

Train the right muscles

The numbers of cyclists and runners have increased in the city but there’s a certain amount of training involved. “Certain groups of muscles are used time and again for running or cycling.

Overusing the same muscles lead to wear and tear, and hence injuries. You need to work on strengthening the larger muscle groups so that they in turn protect the smaller muscles used for running/cycling from wear and tear,” adds Gavin.

Finally, trainers also feel it’s essential not to be obsessed with fitness routines and learn to relax. “I’ve come across people who stop enjoying their lives and become obsessed. Strike a balance,” says Dinaz.

Gavin sums up, “Don’t get carried away. Know where to draw a line.”

Fitness checklist

When you enrol in a gym, check credentials of your trainer.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the regimen suggested for you.

Focus on learning the basics before moving on to high-intensity workouts.

Good posture and technique are important to avoid injury.

Work towards losing body fat and not merely on slimming down.

A balanced diet goes hand-in-hand with a fitness regimen.

Don’t follow diets that exclude certain food groups. The body needs a combination of good carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.

Don’t overdo workouts. It’s okay to not exercise one day a week and give your muscles time to rest.