I feel like I should apologies for the lack of pictures in this blog; but I’ll be honest, I’ve been so busy sweating and straining whilst in the gym that it keeps slipping my mind. But that’s kind of the point, right? I’ll be putting together a video clip shortly though, so all is not lost if you don’t like reading things.

Anyway – on with the pain. Tuesday evening I had my induction to the gym proper, followed by a personal training (PT) session to put together a routine tailored to my needs. The induction was fairly quick – as I’ve used gyms before in the past I already knew how to use a lot of the equipment, with just a few of the fancier machines being new to me. My trainer Alex (who was great) made sure I was happy with everything before progressing, and stressed that if there was anything I wasn’t sure about, or if I wanted to adjust my routine then I could always either talk to whoever was on duty in the gym or book another PT session.

I had some fairly vague aims for my programme, and Alex was really good at tailoring a three day rotation to accommodate this whilst making suggestions for a more balanced plan. I felt that if I’d had more specific goals then he would have been able to help me with this too. He took into account my personal preferences (I get bored really quickly, especially on cardio machines, and prefer a shorter workout) and I’m more than happy with the results.

As mentioned I’m on a three day rotation, with each day having a similar warm up – main sets – cool down routine that takes about an hour, which suits me. Warm up is a different mixture of cardio machines plus band stretches each day, then each the first part of each main session concentrates on a different area – day one and two are a mix of upper body and core whilst day three focuses on legs. I then have a slightly varied mix of core exercises each day, followed by intense cardio intervals and cool down stretches.

So on Wednesday morning I got out of bed a little bit early and headed over to the gym for my first session. I like pre-work workouts as I get a 20 minute walk to help warm up a little bit and the gym is always nice and quiet – not that I’ve struggled with it being over full at all so far. I’m aiming to train Monday, Wednesday, Friday, so to make things complicated I started with day two, which has some nice chest exercises.

Initial warm up was 5 minutes on the rower, which is about as much as I can manage before boredom kicks in. I started off gently then ramped it up with some mini-intervals in the middle, then eased off towards the end. The rowing machines (and a lot of the Life Fitness machines) actually use water for resistance, which looks really cool and kept me entertained for a little bit as I watched it slosh around. I then moved on to some band stretches which are brilliant – there’s a vast amount you can do with the bands, and you can really feel your muscles starting to work.

Next up was some weight based training. I started off with hammer curls with dumbells, then onto lat pull downs and rows. My upper body strength is definitely not what it used to be and I’m looking forward to working my way up the weights and building up a bit more power. When I told Alex that cycling was my main sport he tried to pick exercises that would compliment this and I definitely feel like the stronger core and upper body will make a big difference, especially when descending fast over rocks and powering uphill.

Probably the hardest bit of the session for me – as I expected – was the core workout that came next. I know that core strength is something that I need to work on, and I knew it was going to hurt – and boy, was I right! A series of floor exercises to work my core muscles left me aching and tired, but also satisfied that I’ve started along an important journey.

I used a machine new to me – the stepper – for a quick bit of cardio before some cool down stretches and down to the showers. The whole workout took around an hour but actually felt much quicker as I was zipping from station to station and never doing any one thing for too long. I’m really impressed with the routine that Alex has put together for me, and I’m looking forward (slightly apprehensively) to trying out leg day on Friday.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the equipment available in the gym, and I reckon it’s going to take me a good while to get used to everything that’s there. The standard of equipment is extremely high, the Life Fitness kit is pretty amazing and will do some very clever stuff with your smartphone if you so wish. It also includes Netflix, which for longer sessions is an absolute godsend!

Tomorrow I have a Fat Blast class at lunchtime because I could certainly stand to lose a bit of timber around my waist. I’ve no idea what Fat Blast is other than it’s high intensity intervals designed to build muscle mass and burn fat, so it’ll be fun (and probably painful) finding out!