New to fitness? Start your journey here

New to fitness? Start your journey here

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When it comes to fitness, getting started only has to be the first step of your fitness journey, not the hardest.

Neal Dakmak, head coach and owner of Dakmak Performance Fitness encourages his clients to be patient. "People need to realize, it's going to take a little time. Try not to be anxious about seeing immediate results," he said.

Dakmak Performance is a personal training gym that also offers a variety of classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. During grueling sessions you're likely to be happily distracted by a playful dog named "Breaux."


  • 11616 Industriplex Boulevard #27
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • 225-445-6254

Dakmak Performance Fitness has clients of all ages and levels. "We have 80-year-olds and then we have advanced athletes, and anyone in between. No matter what your goal is, whether it's strength training, powerlifting, or you're a newbie who is just learning how to do this stuff the right way, it doesn't matter," he said.

Dakmak tells 9News he was inspired early on to learn about fitness. "I never thought that I would be where I'm at. It just takes time," said Dakmak. "I was a bigger kid. I literally weighed the same as I do now when I was 14-years-old. My body composition was very low and I was weak."

Dakmak said that just learning proper technique was a big step that helped him get his best results.

Honestly, it just takes a little push and a little determination to make a change.

He shared some tips to getting started with WAFB's Get Fit Red Stick Facebook group.

"The correct way to do it is to go see your doctor first. You want to go just to make sure you're cleared. Get your physical. Everyone should start there," he said.

He believes having a baseline is important to be able to go forward. "Let's check out and see where you are because you're going to want to see progress."

New clients at Dakmak Performance Fitness start their initial training session on the ground with breathing exercises to learn how to find their core.

"When you get on the ground, your back is arched. When you put it flat, that's staying tight. Keep a neutral spine on the ground. Pushing the lower back into the ground will help activate your core," said Dakmak.


  • Start with belly breathing (relax and let your breath settle)
  • Embrace your core, flex (core breathing)
  • Glute bridges
  • Basic hip lifts (to activate glutes)
  • Basic crunching (to activate the core)
  • Mobility drills (to activate the hips)
  • Leg swings
  • Body weight squats
  • Beginner yoga (like downward dog)
  • Pushups
  • Lunges
  • Rowing or pressing

"We start out very basic with usually just a couple of sets. Not too many, to make sure they come back," he said with a laugh.

If you need help learning exercise techniques, Dakmak suggests finding a trainer but he also said there are ways to get started from home. He said you can start by doing some basic things and suggested using YouTube to find exercise demonstrations.


  • Dumbbells
  • Jump rope
  • Yoga mat
  • Stability ball
  • Bands (adjustable for the knees & upper body exercises)
  • Foam roller (and little rollers for soreness & recovery)

"The bands are really good for doing all kinds of core, upper body, and lower body movements. We get the bands for the knees, to use them for squatting, and band walks to work the hips," said Dakmak.

If you feel like you're in a position right now where you can't do much, Dakmak said it could just take a little push to help you stay motivated, such as working toward a goal.

Really stay on top of your mindset. You can do it. Don't stop.


  • Set a goal
  • Find an accountability partner
  • Clean up your diet
  • Get informed about what you’re eating & putting in your body
  • Work hard
  • Stay committed
  • Don’t stop until you reach your goal

Dakmak recommends finding an accountability partner or joining a group like Get Fit Red Stick.

"The group is great for accountability. If you're really trying to make a change and you're in the group, I think you should participate. I think it helps other people."

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