24 January 2022

No pain, no gain, right? Wrong, says Canberra fitness leader

| Katrina Condie
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Man on rowing machine in gym

Take it slow and steady as you ease back into your ‘new year, new you’ fitness routine. Photo: Viva Leisure.

It’s a brand new year and time to start shifting those Christmas and COVID-19 kilos, but does that mean it’s time to ‘go hard or go home’?

While many of us are keen to dive back into a fast and furious new year fitness routine after spending months working (and eating) from home, testing our baking skills and binge-watching Netflix, one Canberra fitness leader says slow and steady is the way to get the best results.

With gyms now back open after lockdown, and so many classes on offer – from circuit and spin sessions to hot yoga – Viva Leisure general manager Michael Cunico says going from zero to 100 when it comes to exercise is counter-productive and can result in injuries.

“A lot of people think that more is better, especially when they’re just starting out or have had some time away from the gym, but easing back into exercise is the way to go,” he says.

“Doing too much too soon can leave you with debilitating soreness, and that doesn’t provide you with much encouragement to go back again.”

Viva Leisure general manager Michael Cunico

Viva Leisure general manager Michael Cunico says staying motivated can be a struggle. Photo: Viva Leisure.

Michael says nothing kills exercise motivation faster than not being able to get out of bed the day after your first workout.

He recommends spending less time on the weights first up and doing three or four lower intensity, full-body workouts, then building up from there.

Personal trainers at Viva Leisure’s Club Lime gyms can help provide tailored advice to people who want to kick-start their new year exercise regime, or who are returning to the gym after some time off.

“Seeing a professional when you want to learn and commit to anything just makes sense to me,” says Michael.

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“When people want to learn to play golf, or cook, it’s normal to get professional guidance and I don’t think the gym is any different.”

At the start of the new year, especially after the lockdown disruptions of the past two years, many people are keen for a fresh start, but staying motivated can be a struggle.

When it comes to building intrinsic motivation, Michael says building the right habits is crucial.

“Those habits can be quite practical, like having your gym gear and shoes out ready so you can get out of bed, get dressed and go – some people even wear their gym clothes to bed,” he says.

People working out at Club Lime gym

Taking a group class at Club Lime can help increase motivation to shed the COVID-19 kilos. Photo: Viva Leisure.

Having a training buddy who can encourage and challenge you can help create an exercise ritual that is fun and interesting, and booking a fitness class usually ensures you will turn up for your workout.

“People need to create habits that make exercise easy for them,” adds Michael.

He says the three primary elements that get people motivated are autonomy, such offering people a choice of location, classes and times; the group effect, such as doing classes with others and having people around you, particularly coming out of COVID-19; and competency, knowing that what you’re doing is having an impact and that you’re improving and learning.

“Research says if you have these three things, you’re more likely to stick with your exercise regime,” says Michael.

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Viva Leisure group is a one-stop shop when it comes to fitness, with the city’s first GROUNDUP reformer Pilates, yoga and barre studio located next to Belconnen Club Lime, and hiit republic offering high-intensity small group training within walking distance.

With facilities in more than 40 locations across Canberra, there’s sure to be a Club Lime gym or fitness class to suit everyone.

“It’s quite unique in the fitness industry to have all these options under the one membership,” says Michael.

If you’re ready to kick-start 2022 by improving your health and mental clarity, and feeling amazing while enjoying yourself, check out what’s on offer at Club Lime and other facilities within Viva Leisure Group.


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I’m one of those lucky people who no matter how much they eat or drink never put on weight -I think it’s because of a very high metabolic rate and the fact that I’m always a bit nervy,restless and edgy – that probably consumes the calories.

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