You can invest your money in your health and fitness now, or you can invest it in health care later in life. There’s no debating that you will spend it one way or another. Why not choose the route that benefits you now, and can bring more enjoyment and happiness to your life?
But what should you spend your hard earned money on first? Should you go to your local GNC and get a trunk full of supplements, should you go to the grocery store and get a bunch of vegetables you’ve never heard of, or should you hire a trainer? What about that Paleo cookbook? You have so many options, and as you know, I’m a fan of simplification. So I’m going to lay out my opinion on the priority of fit fund allocation.
#1 A Good Gym with a Good Atmosphere
It doesn’t matter how motivated you are to get started on a path to better health, if you join a bad gym you are destined to fail. You should first and foremost determine what you are interested in. There are limitless options on genres of fitness, and each gym will offer different styles.
For instance, do you want a gym that offers group classes? Serious strength training equipment? CrossFit? What about yoga? Do you want to go to a gym that has pizza nights? (I’m looking at you Planet Fitness.)
You should also consider things like the gym’s atmosphere, the demographics, and how busy it gets during peak hours. If you are a woman that wants to strength train, it would be wise to choose a gym that doesn’t have an army of Rob Lowe bodybuilders. If the gym is dark and gloomy, that could make getting to the gym even harder.
You get my point by now. The gym you choose should be a welcoming place that excites you, makes you work harder, and has an atmosphere that keeps you coming back for more. Once you have your fitness regimen in line, and have a steady workout schedule, the rest becomes easy! Well, sort of.
#2 Education Resources
Knowledge is power in all aspects of life, including your health and fitness. Understanding your body, why you’re doing the exercises you’re doing, and the adaptations that come from strength training and cardiovascular exercise are all important things to know for a trainee. You could learn all of these things in one basic book, and you could learn almost everything you’d ever need to know about nutrition from another.
You have access to millions of cookbooks to teach you recipes for any type of diet or budget. With online courses about training, nutrition, cooking, behavior change, and a thousand other topics there is no reason for you not to be educated!
Most fitness experts become experts by acquiring knowledge from books, scientific journals, work from other experts, attending conferences, and other media sources. They also spend a significant amount of time applying all of their knowledge in the real world, which you should do as well. In addition, most fitness experts have websites and blogs dedicated to providing content to anyone who wants to learn a bit more, and most of them are free, like this one. I’m not saying you have to become an expert. I am saying that almost all of these things are available to anyone who will take the time to read them.
#3 Coaching or Personal Training
If you don’t want to take the time to educate yourself, then it’s time to hire a coach or trainer. They can take the thought out of everything for you, and educate you in the process. It is important to make sure you hire a good trainer. If you are unsure how to go about doing that here are a few steps for finding a good trainer.
A good coach should be able to take you through your workouts, teach you why you’re doing specific things, educate you about the body, and how to fuel it all at the same time. They should be able to help with behavior changes and give you strategies to help overcome the difficulties in living a healthier life.
Another big reason for hiring someone is the accountability and motivation factor. If you haven’t quite fallen in love with fitness or making it to the gym, having someone there to push you and hold you accountable can be huge.
In all honesty, if you’re going from doing nothing to exercising a few times a week, you don’t need to change a ton with your diet. At least not for a while. Making a huge lifestyle change can become overwhelming for a lot of people. So going to the gym several times per week, watching what you eat, and cooking all new foods at the same time can set you up for failure. Start slow.
After you’ve got a solid routine down and you begin to see the benefits from exercise, it’s time to start working on improving your nutrition. Incorporating more vegetables is a great place to start, and so is taking out any calories that you don’t really need. Things like sodas, high fat salad dressings, candy, and juices don’t have many benefits to your health so they get the chop.
The two things above could get you a long way on their own. But as you get more serious about your fitness you could begin monitoring your calorie and macronutrient intake. This is a great way to maximize performance, and also have greater control of your body composition. If you have been in the gym for some time, cleaned up your diet, and haven’t been seeing the results you think you should then I would highly recommend tracking some sort of metric. After all, what gets measured, gets managed.
#5 Fitness Gear
This is a big leap coming from a minimalistic person like myself, but having good gym gear is important. There are two categories of gym gear. Performance gear, which would be things like lifting belts, straps, wraps, olympic shoes, and other things that aid performance in the gym. Then we have the other, Fru Fru Shit, which includes things like tank tops with witty sayings, activity tracking bracelets, and other spandex containing apparel.
Both categories are important, and having new gym gear can be a source of motivation, improve your workouts, your performance, and your adherence to your training regimen. All of these things add up to an improved level of fitness.
Another category of fitness gear could be things to use at home. Adding in simple things like a door hanging pull up bar or push up handles could drastically improve your fitness. Being able to knock a few pull ups out each day really adds up over a month, or a year’s time. You could also invest in recovery tools like foam rollers, stretching bands, and other mobility tools. Staying in the game is just as important as playing it.
#6 Workout Buddy
I realize that you can’t buy a training partner, but you could give some incentive to a friend or family member. You could pay for a month or two at your gym for someone, you could challenge a fellow gym member to a fitness wager, or you could try out some type of group class. Get creative, because having friends at the gym makes it more of a social event, and we all love social events.
As you become more enthralled in the fitness world you will likely begin to follow one style of fitness, and the leaders associated with that style. Something that can be extremely motivating is to go visit the places where these people train. If you’re a powerlifter, go visit Westside, if you are a bodybuilder, take a trip out to Gold’s Gym in Venice, or you could go visit your favorite CrossFit athlete’s box. If cardio is your thing, well uh, I can’t help you.
Ok maybe number one hundred is an exaggeration, but my point is that you should take care of EVERYTHING else before you worry about supplements. I would like to add that I don’t consider protein supplementation an actual “supplement” since protein is in fact, a macronutrient. Does everyone need to supplement with protein? Not at all, but for athletes who are training hard and have higher protein needs, protein powder can be more convenient, cost effective, and easier on the stomach.
The supplements I’m talking about are the fat loss pills, performance enhancing supplements, and other quick fixes. If something sounds gimmicky or like it could be the answer to all of your problems, stay away.
At the end of the day, money can’t buy you happiness, and it damn sure can’t make you fit. There is no substitute for hard work and consistency!