Last year I wrote a post, I Don’t Know Where to Start, that addressed the most common issue with weight loss: “I want to lose weight but I don’t know where to start.” It’s normal to feel that way. Check out some of my other posts if you need some motivation: How to Exercise Regularly, 21 Days to a New Life, Starting Over.
So if you’re just starting a workout program and you’re not sure where to start, this post is for you! It was inspired by an email from a long time reader:
“Hi! I’ve been a follower of your blog for a few years now and I want to start swimming for exercise. Are there any tips/advice you can share with a beginner? Wondering if a cap is necessary, how many minutes/laps to start with, what brand of goggles, etc? Maybe you already have a blog post like this, not sure? Thanks!”
It’s a fantastic question. I’ve written a lot of posts about swimming and you can check them out here:
But what do you REALLY need when starting a workout program? Honestly, you don’t need much. You can get all the bells and whistles and spend a lot of money on gear but it’s not necessary.
What You Need: Swimming
A lot of what you need starting to swim is based on personal preference. If you want to go the simple route you need a swimsuit, goggles and a swim cap. That’s pretty much it. My personal preference is to have ear plugs and nose plugs. I’m just more comfortable with those extra things and they don’t cost much.
Try different goggles. I can’t really recommend a specific brand or style because it really is based on what fits YOU. I’ve tried a million goggles over the years trying to find the right ones that fit my eyes and don’t leak. I’ve settled on TYR goggles but Speedo makes some good models, too. The swim cap is recommended for two reasons, whether you are male or female: 1) it’s good hygiene in the pool (no one wants to see clumps of hair floating around) and 2) it’s so much easier to enjoy your swim when you don’t have to mess with your hair in your eyes.
What You Need: Cycling
When it comes to cycling, you can go into debt buying all sorts of fancy things: the shoes, the sunglasses, the gloves, the gear…You have to decide what is absolutely necessary because really you just want to be comfort sitting on your bike and protect your head.
I have arm warmers, compression tights and click in shoes. I also have various types of clothes depending on the weather. Weather can be unpredictable in Portland so I need stuff for rain and sunshine–we can have both in a single day.
What You Need: Running
All you really need for starting to run is GOOD SHOES. Get fitted at a running store before you start any program. Prevent injuries before they happen. I cannot stress this enough. It amazes me when I see people running in shoes that looks 10 years old. When I got fitted at Foot Traffic, I was fitted for Brooks Ravenna. Love them! They are fantastic.
That’s it. That’s all you need! Good shoes. But if you want to get a little more…I recommend some good wicking clothes (you don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy Nike clothes–running shorts should not cost $60!). I love my Polar Heart Rate monitor and could never go back to working out with one. You don’t need one, though, and you don’t need a Garmin. There are so many free apps for iPhone that you can use for mileage.
What You Need: Weight Lifting
If you’re working out at home then you’ll want to buy some free weights, maybe a medicine ball or a kettle bell. If you’re working out at gym you’re set. I’d suggest gloves. You can buy gloves that are specific for lifting but I just use my old cycling gloves. It’s worked well for me for years. Gloves are a personal preference. I wear them so that when I get sweaty I don’t slip or drop the weights but there are some schools of thought that say gloves prevent you from developing grip strength. I also wear gloves to prevent calluses (which I’m getting anyway!).
A training journal or notebook is a good idea to keep track of what exercises you are doing, what weight you are at and how you’re progressing. When I started working out with Suzanne, I got a journal to record the workouts and my PT exercises. I can’t believe it took me this long to get one!
What You Need: Walking
Just like with running, you need good shoes. It’s worth it to spend a little money on nice shoes. If you are an avid walker and want to track your mileage, you don’t need to buy a fancy gadget or pedometer. If you have a smart phone, there are free apps you can use to track mileage. I use Cyclemeter because it tracks my miles for any activity I select. I use it for biking and running.
Bottom Line: you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get in shape. Please don’t let cost keep you from starting your weight loss journey. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. And in the long run, getting fit and healthy will save you money!
QUESTION: What is your “must have” gear for working out?