When Raja Iyer, 32, started exercising in March, he didn't pay heed to his trainer's advice to buy the right shoes. Four months later, when Iyer started running to prepare for the Mumbai marathon scheduled in January, his legs refused to cooperate.
"In the first week of running, I experienced severe problems with pain around my ankles and toe region. I also hurt my hamstrings," said Iyer, a customer analyst manager at Hutchison Global Services, Malad. "I didn't want to invest in shoes till I was committed to exercising every day because they cost a lot." But pain pushed Iyer to look for the right running shoes. After an Internet search for running gear and trying out seven different pairs, Iyer finally bought a pair.
"Initially, I would be able to run only up to 600 metres at a stretch on the concrete road. Now, I can run up to five km, five times a week. I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this without the shoes," said Iyer.
Be it outdoor exercises such as running, walking, cycling, swimming or working out in the air-conditioned comfort of a gym or home, fitness experts say it is important to wear and use the right accessories.
You must get the right clothes and shoes as well as use the right accessories such as a yoga mat or dumbbells of the right weight.
"Some people have flat feet while others have high curvatures. Wearing the right shoes is very important because they provide good support by cushioning the legs and toes and preventing injuries," said Vishwajit Matkar, who runs Recharge Body and Mind at Yari Road. "Shoes should also be breathable, absorb perspiration and absorb shock."
Comfortable clothing is also important for a good workout. "No matter what exercise you do, always wear loose clothing so that your body can breathe. Clothes that absorb sweat or allow ventilation are good. Lycra clothing available in stores is also good enough," said Sanjay Bakhshi, chief consultant at Physioline Centre in Four Bungalows.
Despite access to literature and information on fitness accessories, many people remain ignorant about the need for right accessories, say experts. "And we as fitness experts make the mistake of taking it for granted that people already know about various accessories and equipment," said Matkar.
Chembur resident Sonu Gajria, 41, was told by her friends rather than her swimming instructor that she need to use a swim kit — swim cap, anti-fog goggles, anti-chlorine skin lotion or sun block — when she joined a swimming class last October.
"There are China-made goggles available for Rs 100, but water seeps through them, making it impossible to swim," said Gajria, an entrepreneur who has bought anti-fog goggles for Rs 1,000. "Even if water gets into these goggles, a gel on the surface prevents it from forming a haze."
Thirty minutes before class, Gajria makes it a point to apply anti-chlorine lotion and never forgets to wear the swim cap. "Chlorine tends to make the skin and hair rough and dry. But a specialty anti-chlorine bathing lotion and shampoo during bath and a good moisturiser after a shower takes care of whatever little damage may be done," she said.
The body needs water even when you are swimming as it is exercising, said Deepali Jain, an aqua specialist. "You must drink water before and after swimming and also some water during the swimming session. If you can, then invest in a hydro-coach, which is a device that assesses the water need of your body."