Dear Sir, 

I’m a 20-year-old girl. I joined a gym in Thimphu recently. What are the biggest mistakes people make at the gym as they begin? How should I avoid the mistakes? 


Dear Dolkar,

The four biggest mistakes I have seen and continue to see in the health and fitness fraternity are:

1. Wasting time unknowingly: 

Most beginners think they can help themselves through the Internet. Advice on the Internet is not regulated. Also, information is generic or anecdotal.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire or seek a professional’s help. By professional I mean a combination of an individual that has a built a respected physique with good education and experience of exercise, physiology and nutrition, and above all, a record of being able to apply that knowledge and experience into inspiring and helping others achieve their goals.

2. The more the better:

Tip of the week

As a beginner, learn to listen to your body.

The belief that more is better has been instilled in us since our birth, because of which most of us are unable to shun it and end up doing too much too soon, leading to overtraining, injuries and little progress.

Our body and health progress only when it can first recover from the day-to-day demand we put upon it.

I would recommend no more than three one-hour sessions per week of intense exercise.

3. Senseless cardio: 

Most gym goers, especially females, make the mistake of equating calories burned to fat burned. So they keep chasing the calories endlessly by running frequently and end up burning much needed muscle that provides strength and structure to our body.

Cardio, just like weight training, must be done with a purpose. If your goal is cardiovascular performance and health, doing high intensity exercise like jogging, running, cycling, aerobics, etc will be beneficial. But if your goal is to burn fat, than a high intensity cardio like running can be detrimental to your goals.

So, a lower intensity cardio like walking, brisk walking, slow cycling are very good choices.

4. Nutrition: 

A sound nutrition designed to achieve your personal health or fitness goal is paramount. Without ingesting enough nutrients on a regular basis, you can forget about results.

No matter what your goals, be it to lose weight, gain muscle, increase performance, etc. physical stress put upon our bodies through sport and weight training is detrimental to our body, until and unless it is backed by a solid nutrition. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for injury and utter disappointment.

There are no disadvantages of being a female when it concerns weight training. The only difference is females don’t produce enough testosterone to put on muscle and strength like men. So, follow a programme that helps you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Tshering Dorji (three times Mr Bhutan winner), is a certified fitness trainer and specialist in performance nutrition


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