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The Olympic Guide to Getting Fit

So, you’ve decided to improve your overall health by starting a fitness programme. Congratulations! Nobody has ever regretted it. But where to start? With so many options out there (including gym-free solutions!), and the Internet flooded with so much information, it’s hard to know where to begin.

What’s important to remember is that you are unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fitness. So, if you’re going to do this successfully, then it’s worth taking the time to figure out what will work for you. Enlisting the help of a professional, at the start, could set you on the path to success. Where before you might have only had the option of a personal trainer at your gym, the rise of the online fitness coach now gives you more options. We take a look at the pros and cons of both and whether going solo could be a better fit for you.

The Personal Trainer
Personal trainers can be expensive. But if you view it as an investment in yourself, and you can afford to hire one, then that’s great. A PT could cost you anywhere from R300 to R800 per hour – depending on where you live, train and whether you require one-on-one, home-training or group personal training.

What to consider before signing up with a PT:
– Do they hold the necessary qualifications? Check that CATHSSETA accredits their training.
– Any PT worth his or her salt is registered with REPSA.
Finding the right PT to match your training style, personality or fitness goals should also be considered. Do you want someone who is going to ease you into it or someone who will push your boundaries? It’s worth ‘interviewing’ a few PTs before deciding. Discuss at length what you enjoy and ask your PT to design a programme that includes these things – you’re less likely to get bored that way or run for the hills if you feel you voluntarily signed up for torture. A PT at your gym could be less expensive than one that has to travel to your home, but if you’re gym-shy, this could be the better option for you. If you have a friend who is interested, check with your PT if he or she offers group training discounts.

The Online Coach
This form of personal training has taken off in the last few years, and you only need to see the troops of fitness hopefuls sharing their progress on social media and tagging their online coaches to get the picture. Truth is this type of training is best suited to a self-starter. There’ll be no one holding you accountable or putting you through your paces. It’s all on you to show up and get it done. With online coaches the same standards of checking need to apply as above. Online PTs should be qualified with accredited courses in their own country and registered with their local regulatory body.

Depending on what you’re looking for, an online coach can cost anywhere between R700 to R3000 per month. Some plans come with meal plans and workout plans that should be highly personalised to your needs. One of the most significant drawbacks of online coaching is the onboarding phase. An online coach will not have had the opportunity to assess you personally. You will need to complete a questionnaire where they will investigate your goals, past injuries, health conditions and measurements but they will not be able to assess your fitness level beyond beginner, intermediate or advanced. To begin with, it will be a lot of trial and error. Another drawback is that an online coach is not available to check that you’re performing exercises correctly. An excellent online coach will consider this – giving you all the information you need, in the form of written instructions or links to videos or an instruction manual to help you complete each exercise with proper form.

Good online coaches will also check in with your regularly (usually on Whatsapp or other messaging apps) – at set times or intermittently and be open to adjusting your plan when you are struggling with something. If you enjoy this type of interaction, then an online coach could be the way to go. Great thing about online coaches is that their results are easy to see – through their legions of fans and

The Group Trainer
There is safety and more in numbers. Group training can be highly beneficial whether you’re a peoples person or not. Firstly its vastly cheaper than personal training or online coaching and you’re in a room with similarly minded people. You’re likely to find a partner or two for further fitness exploration or just make friends who share the same mindset as you – always a plus.

Popular group training options to try:
– Check if your local running club has a beginner’s programme.
– Nothing breaks a sweat or gets you fitter faster than boxing. Most gyms now include a boxing-style group class.
– Bootcamps are ubiquitous. But not all bootcamp instructors are made the same. The same rules apply as when searching for a PT or online coach. Get that down and bootcamp can be super fun with lots of variety from yoga to hiking to training with weights and running – great for you if you bore easily.
– And on that note, if you’re someone who enjoys variety then sign up for an alternative gym experience like Fitkey. They offer a unique gym experience that can have you trying out a new workout every day of the week.

The Solo Star
If you treasure your workout out as ‘me time’, where you plug in and block out the world for an hour each day, then this is the best fit for you. You are the type of person who will scour the internet and find something to do that appeals to you and importantly, you’re also someone who doesn’t struggle with motivation. Moving is a meditation for you.

To get you started, this is our pick of fitness apps, magazines and books to check out:

AAPTIV – music motivates like nothing else and this app has that locked down.
Qinetic – choose from over 400+ video workouts from trained professionals.
Gym Log+ – putting your routines together? Then this is a great and cheap way to track your progress.

Magazines (print and online):
– Invest in a subscription to and you’ll get access to loads of workout routines and fitness tips. It is an invaluable resource for the solo warrior.
– is great for beginners. So sad that the South African version shut down when it did, but you’ll still find so much encouragement and genuinely great tips to get you going.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women – the foremost fitness tome for women. First published in 2009 it is still a fantastic resource that will guide you through nutrition and place you firmly in the weight section of the gym – where women belong. The authors publish a range of titles under The New Rules of Lifting banner that will appeal to men and women alike.

Primal Potential: Elizabeth Benton has been there and done that and offers a no-nonsense daily podcast to help you unleash your potential for success. If you’re struggling with your diet, she comes highly recommended. AND big plus – her show is entirely ad-free.
40+ Fitness Podcast: Alan Misner is a 40+ certified fitness trainer who understands the unique fitness challenges of this age group. This podcast regularly gets a five-star rating from reviewers across the globe.

We wish you well on your fitness journey. Stay in touch with us via our Facebook page or Instagram we would love to hear how it’s going.

Olympic International manufactures a range of active footwear for men and women designed to take you from beginner to athlete. View our range here and shop selected styles at