Are you worried about signing up for a class at your local gym and totally being in over your head? This fear is more common than you think, especially among older adults.

That, and concerns about injuring yourself, might keep you on the couch when, really, you should be hitting the gym and getting your workout groove on.

The benefit of exercise for older adults far outweighs any risks associated with staying active. In fact, the social interaction and the positive mood boost that joining fitness classes brings is almost unparalleled.

If sneaking fears have kept you from stepping out of your comfort zone and checking out your local gym or YMCA, get motivated and empowered with a quick run-down of this fearless fitness checklist:

Fitness After 50: Watch Before You Do

Getting fit has never been easier than in the digital age. Checking out what chair yoga is really like – or Pilates, or water aerobics – is but a click away. A simple search on YouTube can find you plenty of videos that let you watch and experience an exercise you are interested in before you attempt it.

Your local gym or yoga studio may also offer tutorials or introduction videos on their website for you to peruse before signing up for a class.

Take Advantage of a Free Consultation

Find out whether your local gym offers free consultations by personal trainers or fitness instructors. Simply having a dialogue with an expert can help you design a framework for achieving your fitness goals and making the most of your gym membership.

During a 60- to 90-minute consultation, a Fitness Consultant will review your medical and exercise history as well as perform a Fitness Evaluation to assess your baseline fitness level.

Talk to the Teacher Beforehand

Do you have specific concerns about your range of motion or ability to complete certain movements because of age-related arthritis or osteoporosis?

Arrive a few minutes early to your fitness class and pull your teacher aside for a quick discussion about your limitations or existing injuries. They should welcome discussing alternative or modified movements for you that will help you take part in the session within your own comfort and health levels.

Always Warm-up

Diving into a fast-paced workout without warming up can stress tight, stiff muscles and joints. While most classes should begin with a 5- to 15-minute warm-up period, you may enhance that pre-exercise time with dynamic stretching and activity yourself.

A brisk walk outside or on the treadmill, jumping jacks and some yoga poses and movements do the trick – increasing blood flow, stretching and lengthening muscles, as well as loosening up joints and waking the brain. This is one of the most important fitness after 50 tips I can offer.

Stay Hydrated

Sure, your slick reusable water bottle looks great with your new athletic wear, but it’s what’s inside that matters. Drinking water before, during and after working out will help you stay hydrated, keep energy levels up, and promote healthier, more efficient performance in your workout routine and classes.

Switch Up Your Routine

Have you heard about Olympic athletes cross-training? Mastering another sport or athletic activity has been shown to boost performance and efficiency in your original sport. When it comes to staying fit and working out, take a cue from the experts.

Instead of facing your fears and locking yourself into Zumba class day in and day out, incorporate sessions of light weight lifting, spinning or Pilates into the mix.

Not only will you get a better overall body workout over time, but different exercises also hone different balance, coordination and flexibility skills which keep you mobile and moving as you age.

Listen to Your Body

One of the most important steps you can take in nailing down an effective fitness routine is practicing acute body awareness. Pay attention to aches and pains, never workout through pain, and seek assistance from your healthcare provider for chronic and nagging discomfort.

While self-treating foot and knee soreness by wearing top of the line orthotic aids or the best hinged knee brace may temporarily alleviate pain, it won’t solve the underlying causes and can cause trouble down the line.

Don’t forget to recognize the positive moods and post-workout “highs” you experience as well. These behaviour boosters help combat depression, stress and anxiety. They will serve as motivators to keep up with your fitness routine as the months progress.

What would you add to the fearless fitness checklist? Have you found success joining a gym to stay fit? What do you think are the best ways to achieve fitness after 50? Please join the conversation below!

Jessica HeggJessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. Through her writing, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others. You can find her on Twitter @Jessica_Hegg.

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