Burpees? Squats? Planks? Mountain Climbers? Bear crawls?
Russian Twists? Walk outs? Frog jumps? Flutter kicks? Thrusters?
When I began to seriously engage with the gym in 2018, the language of the world of fitness was a complete mystery to me. In the first instance, I panicked at the names of the various pieces of equipment and classes, this was swiftly followed by a second wave of panic at the names of all the individual exercises within the classes I attended. To be honest, I felt totally stupid, because I just didn’t understand the language of the fitness world I’d entered.
I had heard of Spin, but apart from a basic knowledge that it was cycling on a bike without brakes whilst an instructor yelled at you, I had no more idea about it ~ until I tried it. Then, with a bit of good and careful guidance from the instructor, I grew in confidence when I realised that although it is every bit as tough as I anticipated, there wasn’t too much to learn about the various moves and settings on the bike.
Joining a HIIT class though was a totally different matter. The first mystery to overcome was what, exactly did HIIT stand for? Even though this was defined as High Intensity Interval Training, it took me quite some time to totally understand what that translates to in practice. Now, when I look at my watch following a workout, I can see the peaks of intervals of intense activity and the dips of rest when the heart rate recovers slightly.
Then there were all the moves to learn. I’d heard of press ups, sit ups, crunches and planks, but I had no idea what a Burpee was, or a walk out, a mountain climber or thruster, let alone a Russian Twist. I mastered the practice of waiting just a fraction of a second to see what other people were doing before I began, and, if it was a circuit where we had to move round, I always checked to see what the person was doing at the next station.
The bewildering names for all the different equipment was the next to learn. I didn’t know the difference between a dumbbell (weights you hold in each hand) and a Barbell (weights on either end of a pole). I had never heard of a kettlebell (a large ball shaped weight with a handle) and I had no idea what a squat rack was, or a Smith Machine or a Preacher bench, let alone a cable machine or TRX. It just all seemed like a minefield and initially, I felt to inadequate and embarrassed to ask.
I knew, however, due to many years of being a teacher, that the only way to learn and find out about anything, is to ask. And so, bit by bit, week by week my ‘fitness vocabulary’ increased. I can’t say that I now know all the terminology; far from it! I’m still very much learning and improving my knowledge of this very specific vocabulary.
I enrolled on the Joe Wick’s App as we went into yet another lockdown in December and was immediately met by something called an EMOM. I was soon to find that meant ‘every minute on the minute’ and was a totally brutal workout! This week I’ve completed some GVT – German Volume Training – which basically means repeating an exercise 100 times in ten groups of ten. In this case weighted squats followed by press ups, a hundred of each – also brutal!
There is no doubt that fitness has its own very unique and particular vocabulary which can, at first, seem intimidating, but I would say, please don’t let it put you off. There is help out there!
We have the wonderful world of the internet which not only defines, but also frequently offers examples of how to do the exercises with good form if you have nobody to ask. And if you a member of a gym – just ask! The instructors are there to take away the mystery and to help you get the most out of every piece of equipment and every exercise within their classes.
Whatever you do, don’t let not having the vocabulary hold you back! You will develop it as you progress in your fitness routines and it will definitely all be worth it.