Give pace a chance: Great gym advice for 2023

Love them or hate them, New Year’s resolutions are a well-intentioned way to kickstart the year with some positivity. For many, the commitments we make ourselves each year revolve around health and fitness, and in leisure, we know that this is just as important for your mental wellbeing as it is for your physical health, particularly in these dark winter months.

espite good intentions, joining a gym and getting into regular exercise can be a daunting prospect, especially when it’s your first time. Many misconceptions exist around the fitness world, so over the years I have developed some techniques worth bearing in mind to make sure you have a positive mindset when getting back into the swing of it.

Start slowly

Firstly, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it all on your first, or any, visit to the gym. Pick a small goal that you’re comfortable with, whether it be swimming once a week, spending 15 minutes on a cardio machine or completing a short circuit routine and call it a workout. Build your way up from there and take time to review your progress.

The gym is never a punishment

The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is a common fitness misconception. Of course, taking it easy won’t get you the results you want, so if you’re feeling uncomfortable two thirds of the way through a spin class or gym set, well that is probably to be expected. However, if you feel any sharp pains or recurring issues when doing a particular exercise, you may be doing more harm than good. Consider stopping or seeking some advice if any strong pain persists.


Jamie Cromie, General Manager at Better’s Indoor Tennis Centre and Ozone Complex

It’s always best to ask for help

Every new member at our Better leisure centres will have a personalised induction session with a trained instructor, but staff are always around to help whether it’s your first day or not. You may be unsure about form, how to use a particular machine or what’s the right class to attend for your goals. We have fitness instructors and staff members specifically trained to give you advice, and their help is part of what you are paying for. Always ask for help and you might learn a trick or two along the way.

Remember leisure is for everyone

Whether you’re a runner, swimmer or want to build some strength, at Better, our leisure centres are designed to be an inclusive, motivating space for everyone. Check out the many fitness classes and sports hall activities available and consider getting your kids or family involved too. The gym is a social space with the right facilities and teams to help everyone reach their goals.

Make sure to access all areas

Some parts of the gym can be intimidating, particularly the free weights area if you feel you don’t have the experience. But endless cardio will leave you feeling bored and adding a little weight training into your routine will boost your strength, confidence, and motivation. The next time you feel put off by a busy, or overly male dominated free weights area, remember that the gym is for everyone to get fitter, faster and stronger.

Group fitness is all about fun

Fitness classes are not a test or performance. Though it may make you self-conscious at first, the classes we offer are about teaching you new techniques and getting in a good workout in a fun, energetic environment. Our instructors aren’t there to assess you, instead their role is to keep you accountable and guide you through the class. From group cycle and strength training to Zumba, yoga and pilates, there’s a class for everyone at Better.

People are open to sharing equipment

A busy gym can be off-putting. People often avoid a busy area or even change their workout plan simply because what they planned to use is occupied. We have grown so used to keeping our distance, particularly in the last few years, however no one should ever limit their workout or head home early because of a busy space. Remember everyone is in the same boat and most people will be moving between areas quickly, so don’t be afraid to ask if you can jump on between sets while they rest.

Be consistent

No matter what way you like to work out, the best thing you can do for your health is set aside time regularly each week to focus on nothing else but yourself. Challenging your body, pushing yourself to go further and earning results for yourself is the best way to stay motivated. The more consistent you are, the better you will feel about yourself, and you might find you have a more positive outlook on life too. If you find yourself stagnating, consider switching up your routine with a new class or even a game of tennis or badminton in our sports halls.

For more information on our leisure facilities across Belfast, visit