James Haskell: Getting started with fitness

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

England Rugby player James Haskell offers some tips for those wanting to get fit, including how to find the right gym…


So you want to get fit and in shape, but don’t know how to get started? This is something that luckily hasn’t been an issue for me over the last 11 years; having been a professional rugby player with various teams during that time means that I have always kept fit. However like anyone I had to start somewhere and it can always be a very tricky choice. I want to help make that easier for you.

Although I am fit specifically for rugby, I am also always embarking on new projects and new hobbies, like jujitsu and boxing. This means, like a non-sportsmen, I have to look at where to start, how to get in shape for it and who to work with. Now unless you want to take up a team sport you are going to need to choose the right gym, and start in the right way to get the results heading in the right direction.

No doubt your New Year’s resolution was to get fit and you thought that signing up for a gym membership was the answer. So, I have a few questions for you: how many times have you gone and what did you do when you got there?

James Haskell

James Haskell: “My first piece of advice is to take free PT sessions”

Let’s make something clear there is no point in paying for a gym membership if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just signing up for it and seeing that monthly payment coming out, doesn’t mean you are getting fit. It’s like people wearing training gear all the time and never actually working out. Sure you feel better but you still aren’t actually doing anything.

So my first piece of advice is make sure you take free PT sessions that you were no doubt offered with your membership. Some gyms even offer a series of personal training sessions. I would definitely look into this first, over anything else. Taking the time to get a simple explanation of how the gym works, what sort of work you could be doing and ultimately the right technique is so important.

The Internet is awash with people who have no idea what they are doing, and subsequently lift and train very badly. This is through naivety more than anything. There are the other groups of people who are too proud to ask advice and think they have it all worked out. You see gyms all the time full of these people, doing half reps or obscure exercises. They are often the first people to offer unwanted advice. So you can see why it’s important to seek out professional advice

This should help make your gym membership investment go a little further. Of course you need to do your own research to make sure the trainers are any good in the first place. Luckily we live in a world of social media and the Internet where you can find out if a gym is any good and the trainers within it. There will be some forum, somewhere which will have information.

James Haskell

James Haskell: “Don’t just rush out and sign up for the first gym you find”

Don’t just rush out and sign up for the first gym you find. It doesn’t matter if it’s just round the corner from you, or on the way to work. Another key point when choosing a gym to get started is to make sure you aren’t lulled by glitzy cardio machines.

Once you develop your training knowledge and your goals change, you are going to want to spread your wings. You want a good selection of weights, both free and machine. You won’t want to just jump on the treadmill because it looks the simplest bit of kit. Trust me even people get that wrong to.

If you are really serious about getting into shape and you want to invest some money, then I would purchase a course of personal training sessions. Obviously with someone who knows what they are doing. You may not even have to purchase a gym membership; you could just go to a PT gym. You pay for the PT Sessions, use the gym and facilities for free. This can often be for the more serious person as its quite hard core. You turn up, you train, you shower and you leave. It guarantees you will work hard and get results. However you don’t get the frills of a normal gym.

This is the kind of training that I did when I was coming back from injury. I started working with the fitness and nutrition guru Phil Learney at Ultimate Performance in Mayfair. I would train at 7.00 in the morning with him and then go into Wasps training. UP is a great place for men and women looking to get body transformations. It’s not like a David Lloyd or Virgin Active.

There are gyms like this across London you just need to again take your time and find the one you like. You have waited this long to get fit, why not wait a little longer and make the right choice.

Coming next: James Haskell gives advice on picking the right trainer and the right programme

About James Haskell Health and Fitness 

James Haskell Health & Fitness helps you achieve a healthier and fitter lifestyle

We do this delivering professional fitness and nutrition advice in a simple, clear and easy to understand format. In conjunction with the development of our own range of clean and certified sports supplements, this allows the individual to achieve the lifestyle balance, which is right for them. If you want to know more about Health, Nutrition and Fitness then please visit my website Please send us your questions and any comments you would like to make, via our social media channels. Twitter – @jameshaskellhf Instagram @jameshaskellhf

Don’t forget our multiple award winning supplement range, specifically designed to boost your training. All the supplements are Informed Sport batch tested so there are additives or harmful chemicals. Informed Tested products are the only supplements, which members of the armed services and elite athletes can safely take.