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Journey To A Better Bod

by StephenKelly

"Priscilla: Queen Of the Desert" is considered a classic gay film. But this tale of three drag queens and a bus speeding across the Australian outback would be successful in any genre because it closely follows the formula of all good road movies: The journey from one place to another is often harrowing and fraught with danger
Think of the process of getting in shape as the same kind of journey. In order to get from point A (inspiration) to point C (achieving your goal), one must pass through point B (dealing with gym culture). And that can be a bitch.

The stereotypes would have you believe that the gym is like no place on earth, a strange, "Lord Of the Flies"-type environment, where scantily clad men, drunk on testosterone and sweating like George W. Bush at Nancy Pelosi's birthday party, grunt and groan and get all aggressive with it.

Which actually doesn't sound so bad.

But at the gym, as in life, there are sets of societal guidelines established to help people get along. Every gym posts their rules of gym etiquette, which pretty much spells out unaccepted behavior. Unfortunately, there will always be members who bend or break those rules with astonishing regularity.

For novices and beginners, this brush with extreme rudeness can be quite intimidating — enough to make the gym experience downright unpleasant. Enough to make them stop going.

What those people need to know is that getting in shape takes commitment and consistency. If you expect to make changes, working out needs to become a regular part of your lifestyle, like eating, breathing or listening to the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack.

But if the boorish behavior of other people at the gym turns you off, I offer these words of advice: Get over it.

The bottom line is rude behavior is a big part of gym culture, so should be expected. Like a mall with weights, it attracts people of wildly divergent backgrounds and social graces. This culture clash is bound to lead to some friction. Can't we all just get along?

The secret is to learn to laugh at it. Then the gym becomes an almost constant source of amusement. And while most members are nice and respectful, there's always a handful of hoopleheads who ruin it for everyone else.

Once you get over it, it's all about putting together a routine to get you started. Here are some things to consider:

Setting Goals
What’s your motivation? To put on muscle? Lose weight? Or, like most people, is it both? Answering these questions will give you a direction from which best to build a workout routine that suits your goals.

Time Commitment
This can be crucial in designing a workout routine. For most adults, workout time comes before or after work, and there are pros and cons to both. The goal is to build an effective routine that can be done in the time you have.

Learn the Gym
Does your gym have the equipment necessary to put together an effective routine? Bigger gyms are well stocked, but those working out in smaller clubs may have to get creative and work with what you've got available. Knowing the layout of the gym will also help you flow from one exercise into the next, making for a more efficient, focused workout.

Once you've got that all figured out, it's time to select exercises that reflect your goals. Ideally, your routine should be a combination of weight lifting and cardio. Those looking to lose weight should emphasize cardio, naturally, and most gyms have enough different types of cardio machines to keep things interesting.

Beginning weightlifters may want to stick with machines and simple dumbbell exercises until your body gets over the inevitable initial soreness. Two to three workouts per week is a good starting point.

Choose two exercises per muscle group, adding sessions and exercises as you gain experience and strength. Three sets of eight to twelve reps at lower weights should be just right.

It may take a few weeks until you get into a rhythm, but once there, try to introduce new exercises into your routine every six to eight weeks. Repetitive performance of the same exercises leads to diminishing returns. Your muscles are slower to respond when they always know what’s coming next, so keep your body guessing. Mix it up.

For those who have little prior weight lifting experience, there are a number of excellent sources for learning exercises.

Hire a Trainer
The most logical solution, trainers will not only teach you a wide array of exercises, but the right way to do them. A trainer will also give you guidance and motivation. The only drawback may be the pricing.

The Internet
The motherlode of workout and fitness tips. A Google search for, say, bicep exercises, will turn up hundreds of hits, which can be bookmarked for future reference. For free!

Fitness Magazines
Beware the new breed of lifestyle magazines posing as fitness pubs. Look for magazines whose content is at least 90 percent fitness related, offering advice on essentials like working out, nutrition, supplements and health. The hunky bod quotient is still quite high, and isn't that why we buy them anyway?

It make take a few weeks for this whole package to settle in, but the secret is to stay focused and committed to reaching your goals. You’ll be astonished at the gains you can make in a short time, making the journey worth it.