Do this before hitting the links or jumping on the bike
It’s nearly March and there is a hint of spring in the air. We’re all getting anxious to play with fellow weekend warriors when the weather warms.
Maybe you’re a golfer and looking forward to joining your buddies on the links. Perhaps tennis is your game and you’ve been invited to join a local league.
If you’re a walker, a runner or a cyclist, Cape Cod offers miles and miles of scenic paths. Senior softball leagues are popular, too, and soon the fields will be filled with players channeling their inner Big Papi.
But, before you begin playing you need to prepare properly to avoid injuries, said personal trainer Jeff Handler. Handler is based at Fitness 500 in Hyannis and has trained professional and college athletes in all sports, along with high school and youth players. He won’t promise to make you into the next Jordan Spieth or Mookie Betts, but he can help get you set for the action.
So, if you’ve joined a gym, and want to work out more regularly, how should you structure your exercising to be ready for the upcoming season?
“The days of playing your sport to get into shape are over, even for young athletes, and certainly for older men and women,” said Handler. “The big mistake most people make is to doing too much too soon. They wake up in the morning sore, or even injured, and then compound things from there or stop altogether. We see a big increase in ruptured Achilles (tendons) from jumping out playing tennis, softball and such. And golfers overdo it and hurt their backs and shoulders.”
Most of us need an accountant to help with taxes or a mechanic to fix our cars, and physical fitness is no different, he said. A professional trainer will design an individual plan to help you meet your goals.
According to Handler, a good program should focus on improving:
- Muscular strength and stability
- Muscular endurance
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Flexibility and mobility
- Body fat composition
“But everyone’s situation is different,” he said. “One size doesn’t fit all and a helter-skelter approach doesn’t work. It’s important to have a one-on-one evaluation with a trainer so he or she can learn about your history and identify areas of weakness and potential injury. The goal is to make a positive impact in areas. You need all of them for whatever activity you’re doing.”
Handler, for instance, develops a program based on how much time you can devote. Ideally, 25 to 40 minutes three times a week for six weeks will make a significant difference, but he has clients who only have 15 to 20 minutes on a lunch break.
“That’s better than nothing at all,” he said. “It’s up to you to decide what you want to accomplish and how much of a commitment you can or are you willing to make. The key is to start and build from there. My goal is to get you in the door and then let me do my job.”
Short of that, Handler has one wish for everyone: “If I could preach one thing to men and women 30 and older it would be stay active and do something. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a process and it’s a lifestyle.”