I've been involved with martial arts and fitness since I was at school. I started tai chi when I was in the sixth form, and when I got my first part time job, used my wages to do kung fu with the same school. I've joined gyms, been in running clubs and joined fitness classes. Through those 15+ years I've noticed people coming and going. These are my top tips if you've been contemplating taking up some new kind of exercise, especially if it's capoeira in Chichester! This is a slightly tweaked version of a blog post I wrote back in May when we got started, but given the high number of New Year's resolutions for more exercise, I thought it worth a revisit:
1. See a doctor: Seriously. If you don't really do much exercise at all, this is a sensible step to take. It'd be a shame to injure yourself when you're actually out to improve yourself.
2. Just do it: The most important thing. Actually go. I've been wearing capoeira/marathon/kung fu t shirts out and about and had people say they'd be thinking about doing those things, but hadn't. Sometimes it's for reasons like "Capoeira looks really cool, but I've got no coordination or flexibility" or "I'd love to run a marathon, but I can't even run for the bus". If that's your reason - don't worry. Taking up your new activity will allow you to do those things in time. In 2006 I ran my first ever marathon. And also my second, third and fourth. This was deliberately a big challenge, but I planned my training: starting small and building it up. In 2009 I ran the Chicago marathon. My training started with a 4ish mile run, which was my first in literally years, and that 4 mile run was hard going. At the end I thought "Crumbs, I've got to do over five times that!". In the end, I got a PB (3:54:47). I couldn't do handstands before capoeira, but now I can walk on my hands. These things all take time. But they're worth it! It doesn't matter your level of fitness, flexibility or coordination when starting capoeira - these will all be developed in time. Same for any other exercise.
3. Don't worry about other people. I've seen people stop doing activities because they find the more advanced students intimidating, and worry about not being able to do things first go. Don't be! If you could do things first go, then you'd just need a You Tube tutorial and teachers would be redundant. Don't be scared by the advanced students/people in the class who've obviously got experience. Everyone started off as a beginner. Some people I've met have worried about going to the gym, saying things like "what will everyone else there think of me?". Chances are, they'll be absorbed in their own workouts and won't even notice. Starting exercise is about your own progress, and bettering yourself.
4. Enjoy that it's hard going. Some people don't really get going because, having taken up their new exercise, they hurt and ache the next day (this is especially true of capoeira I've found), and so stop. This hurt is a good thing - working new muscles is going to cause them to ache the next day, and it's a sign you're already starting to get fitter (with the obvious caveat of watching out for injury - don't train too much too soon!). These aches won't last, and the more you train, the less this will happen. But you need to stick with your activity for this to stop.
5. Track your progress. Improvements can sometimes be obvious - being able to climb more stairs without getting out of breath, or being able to run for that bus. But others can be quite gradual, so it can be hard to actually spot your improvement. Tracking progress can help you see how far you've come, and help your motivation. I've used Nike+ for running, and use Fitocracy and Zombies, Run! now, but I've heard good things about Endomondo, and there are many, many other options out there too.
That's just my experience though - the biggest thing is to just go out there and do it. Your first capoeira lesson is free, so come along and give it a go, you've got nothing to lose! Lessons start again on the Thursday 4th, and the first Monday lesson is on the 11th, full details below.
There are also two special offers for January:
1. Half price lessons:
For those that have been to capoeira before: Introduce your friends to capoeira. If you bring a friend or friends to a class, you can get your class half price (your friend(s) will get their first class free). For all the subsequent classes you attend together in January, you can all get them half price.
For those entirely new to capoeira: Your first class is free, and after that the above offer will stand for you, as you have been to capoeira before. This will also stand if you started as a group - by all means introduce new friends, but if you keep coming as a group, you can all get half price lessons.
2. Half price workshop:
In addition, there will be a raffle to attend the workshop on the 30th with Contra Mestre Cobra for half price. For every lesson you attend in January your name will go in the hat - the more lessons you attend, the higher your chances!
Every Monday (from 11th)
The Community Hall, Donegall Avenue, Roussillon Park, Chichester,
17:30 - 18:30 (children only: £3)
18:30 - 19:30 (open to all: adults £4, children £3 or £5 for both)
Grit Gym, Station Approach, Chichester
19:30 - 21:00 (open to all: adults £6, children £4)