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Virgin Active Induction

October 4, 2012

A few weeks ago a representative from Virgin Active got in touch with me to ask if I wanted to get involved in their #beyourpersonalbest campaign. The idea was that I would have a 3 month trial membership at my local Virgin Active gym and work towards taking part in an indoor triathlon (or duathlon) at the beginning of November. I was gutted that I couldn’t take part because I’m going to be on holiday for the triathlon (ok, not too gutted … I’m going on holiday, yippee!). However, Virgin Active still wanted me to take part in the campaign and blog about working towards my goals and my experiences at the gym.

So, what are my goals? It’s a few weeks after I got a brilliant (for me) time in the Great North Run and after Bridlington Half in a couple of weeks I want to take a little break from long-distance running. So, it seems like a perfect time to work on one of the goals I set for myself at the start of the year – run a 5k in under 24 minutes.

My other goal is to improve my overall strength and tone up a bit. My upper body is woefully weak, something that my yoga practice has exposed recently.

Yesterday evening I had my induction with Adam at The Light in Leeds City Centre. It’s always a bit nerve-racking walking into a gym for the first time, but the receptionist was very friendly and explained where to go and lent me a padlock for a locker. I was very impressed with the induction itself. I’ve belonged to quite a few gyms in my time, but this was the most thorough assessment I’ve had and I was confident that Adam knew what he was talking about.

The induction started with a chat about what my goals are, my previous experience and what kind of gym activities I enjoy. I was then weighed, measured and my body fat analysed. I know this is something that a lot of people dread and puts them off going to a gym, but Adam made me feel very comfortable about it and it was actually interesting as I’ve never had my body fat measured before (I won’t share numbers, but it could definitely go down a smidge).

Then there was a fitness test. The first part was a 1.5km run, which is obviously my forte and I did it in 6 minutes something (I didn’t take a record of the exact time). The second part was as many press-ups as possible in 1 minute. Adam showed me the proper form and they were a lot more difficult than the shoddy versions I usually do. I did them on my knees and managed 29. I’m hoping to smash this when I get reassessed in 4 weeks!

Adam understood that I know what I’m doing on the cardio equipment, plus I get plenty of cardio through running, so for the rest of the time he walked me through the strength training part of my programme. I told him at the beginning that my commitment to strength training in the past has been flaky, so he promised me that he would make it fun. I’m thrilled that it doesn’t involve any of the resistance machines which always seem like instruments of torture, instead I will be using free weights, a swiss ball, kettlebells and TRX.

So here’s a rough idea of my programme for the next four weeks:

  • 10 min warm-up
  • 20 min cardio (probably intervals)
  • Push-ups
  • Kettlebell swings
  • TRX narrow row/ wide row super-sets
  • Lunges
  • Bicep curls / shoulder press sat on a swiss ball
  • Walkouts
  • Medicine ball crunches
  • Crunch & leg extension
  • Cool-down

My aim is to include this programme along with three runs a week and my usual yoga class. There are loads of classes available at Virgin Active, so I’m really excited about that! I think I will try to do a different one each week for a while and if I find one I really like then I might do it more regularly. Adam recommended Body Pump, Body Attack, Zumba and Spin. I did Spin a long time ago, but I’ve never tried any of the other three.

Just to make it clear, I always take at least one complete rest day a week, so I will probably end up combining workouts (e.g. running as the cardio element of my programme once a week).

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Do you enjoy the gym?

I need to have a programme that keeps me interested otherwise I get bored. I used to go six times a week – I can’t imagine doing that now!

Do you like strength training?

I’m trying, I really am …

*As I stated upfront, Virgin Active have given me a three month trail membership, but all the writing and opinions in this post are my own.*

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 9:05 pm

    I absolutely love the gym, I am still strength training 3 times a week while marathon training, and I will probably go back up to 4 times after I’m done with the marathon. I don’t tend to use the resistance machines, I much prefer free weights. I really got into strength training last year when I followed New rules of lifting for women, I did the LiveFit program earlier this year too-although that was a bit intense-6 days of heavy lifting a week plus cardio was pretty knackering! I am following LiveFit again now for my workouts but just sticking to the 3 a week. I always change my program every couple of weeks as I get bored very easily, it’s great to keep things fresh.

  2. October 5, 2012 7:33 pm

    I don’t like the gym machines – before I started running I used to spend 2+ hours a day on them for about five years. I think that was enough to put me off almost indefinitely. However, I LOVE classes and it’s the only social setting I particularly enjoy. Spin is so instuctor-dependent whereas it’s far more standardized with the Les Mills classes. Pump is obviously my strength-training love but Attack is absolutely brilliant too – I actually much prefer attack because it is SO high intensity and the only class I find as hard as running (relatively) fast but I can’t take the impact (I don’t like to do the low-impact options because it feels pointless and I always get so caught up in the energy of the class I can never restrain myself) so I don’t do it too often.

    I think it’s great that you’re not using the weights machines – they are so artificial and really don’t work the muscles in a natural way. Kettlebells are the way forward!

    I like Body Pump for strength training, but get really bored with strength training on my own. I prefer having someone to watch my form and I get a kick out of the competition. I was bored silly doing the LiveFit stuff!

  3. October 7, 2012 8:59 am

    I haven’t been to a gym for years but I would love to try out all the amazing classes that are on offer these days. When I lived in Nottingham I used to go to the gym most days after work. I used to work out for about an hour then hit the sauna room. It was a great way to wind down. By the time I got home, I’d completely left work behind.
    Since I not working at the mo, I just haven’t go the money to pay for gym memberships. It doesn’t matter though as I’m enjoying exercising out in the fresh air 🙂
    Good luck with your programme!

  4. October 7, 2012 3:58 pm

    That looks like a great plan. I love the gym and love strength training! I just wish my gym was a bit better equipped in that area as they don’t have much more than a few dumbbells, a bar and swiss ball! You are going to ace those push ups soon!

  5. runningcupcake permalink
    October 7, 2012 7:46 pm

    It is great that the plan is personalised to you. I found when I did the induction (this was years ago) I got shown how to log on to the system and work the equipment, but never had a plan drawn up for me. Probably partly why I stopped going because I never felt like I was improving anything. Good luck with those targets 🙂

  6. October 8, 2012 2:06 pm

    This was a really interesting post and it sounds like you have a great plan setup! I hope it goes really well for you, all of those classes sound so fun, I’d love to be able to try a body pump class one day.

    I quite like going to the gym although in the winter it’s always difficult to motivate myself to get out of the door!

    Good luck with your goals 🙂

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