Everything I Need to Know About Exercise, I learned in Gym Class

Play fair, encourage those around you, dress appropriately, exercise within your limitations, respect your body, never give up.


If you remember any of these idioms (and perhaps a few others), you are well on your way to appreciating a solid fitness program for life.

Play Fair

This one is straight forward. Be good to yourself and fair to those working out around you. Few people like the loud girl on the mobile phone walking the treadmill any more than the girl who never re-racks her weights. Be considerate of others exercising around you, and don’t forget to brush up on proper gym etiquette.

Whenever Possible, Encourage Others Around You

A little positive reinforcement goes a long way in the world of health and fitness. Saying good morning to your fellow early runner as he passes opposite you is an easy way to lend support. Try smiling at other walkers to increase community among you. Offer up a “well done” to another cyclist on the road. Your positive energy will be infectious, and may just give your exercising comrades the necessary boost to get the job done!

Dress Appropriately

Beat the heat this summer! Dress in light colors and lose fitting attire made from mostly synthetic fibers to keep the sweat off of you. Avoid ill-fitting socks that may chafe as your feet sweat. Allow for swelling of your feet for the same reason, and purchase walking or running shoes at least one half size larger than your typical street shoes. Remember to apply sunscreen, especially if you are exercising between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, and consider wearing a hat to help limit your sun exposure.

Exercise within Your Limitations

Know your limitations with any exercise program, particularly if you are returning after any kind of hiatus, or you are working out in compromised conditions, such as extreme temperatures. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) is a great tool for newbies and veterans alike.  Based on a number scale of 6-20, with a rating of 13 roughly in the middle as “somewhat hard”, RPE takes into account increased breathing, increased heart rate, increased sweat production, and muscle fatigue to help you adjust your intensity. You can use this scale to identify your physical output, while continuing to exercise safely.

Respect Your Body

No matter where you are in your journey to fitness, respect your body everyday. It is the only one you have! Nurture your body. Celebrate the miles you have walked, the weights you can lift, and the children you have delivered. Your body is amazing! Forgive the minor setbacks and focus on the positive you continue to achieve.

Never Give Up

Above all else, never give up the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. It is never too far from your grasp. Each day presents new opportunities to make even just one positive change to increase your fitness, improve your nutrition, and thereby enhancing your life.

If you can keep the above in perspective, the rest will follow. What did you learn in gym class growing up? Write down some of the rules you can recall and try making your own list of exercise basics to get you started! It’s fun!

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