Tips on being successful when you’re new to working out.
This post was originally published on August 20, 2019 and updated December 19, 2020.
Whether you’re new to exercise or are stepping back into it after some time off, congratulations on making the decision to get active! There are so many great benefits to working out but the question is: where do you start?
We could tell you to go out and buy a new fitness outfit or to invest in some home gym gear but, in our experience, it’s not the clothes or the equipment that makes the difference – it’s how you approach this new change.
If you want to be successful in leading a healthier, more active life, here are the strategies we use when helping others like you to get started with exercise.
1. Dig into why you want to start working out
To make a meaningful change in any aspect of your life, an important first step is to gain a sense of purpose. Exercise is no exception, and this is why we always find out from our clients what it is specifically that’s driving them to want to make this change.
Start by asking yourself why you want to be active. What results do you want to gain from exercise? How will achieving those results positively impact your life?
Not entirely sure about your “why”? Here are some examples:
I exercise to lose weight (result) so I can move more freely and boost my self esteem (impact).
I exercise to reduce pain (result) so I can feel more independent in my daily life (impact).
I exercise to feel strong (result) so I can connect with my kids through play (impact).
Take the time to personalize your “why” and make it truly meaningful to you and your life. While this may not seem especially important while you have the motivation to get started, there will come a time where the couch vs. the treadmill will not be a fair fight and your “why” may end up being the thing that pushes you past the excuses and out that front door.
2. Check in on your health
Now that you know why you want to get started, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to see if there’s anything you should consider before diving into a new routine of activity.
An early checkup can detect health problems or conditions that might put you at risk during exercise, as well as make it easier for you to understand how to optimize your activity to address your personal needs.
This is particularly important for those who aren’t used to more intense physical activities, as well as those who are aged 45 and over.
3. Find your activity
It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be involved in, but it’s important to remember that we’re all very unique when it comes to what drives us and what we feel connected to.
Think about both your goals and your personality to get a sense of what realm of exercise might be a good fit for you. Try “dating” a few of your options to see what clicks.
Do you do better in a group setting where you can feel a sense of community?
Maybe attending group classes is right for you. Think about barre, spin, yoga, rowing, boxing, etc.
Do you prefer a more personal approach and a plan that’s specifically for you?
Maybe seeing a personal trainer is a good idea. Consider boutique training studios, mobile fitness coaches, online personal training, etc.
Do you like to fly solo and motivate yourself?
Maybe attending the gym on your own is the right fit. Look into your home/apartment/work gym, community centres, big box gyms, etc.
Do you need a bit of play with your activity?
Maybe a sport or outdoor activity is a good option. Think about tennis lessons, hiking, golf, cycling, etc.
4. Seek out support
With your activity type in mind, do your research to find a facility or company that can help kick-start you on the right path.
When checking out your options for each type of exercise, consider the following elements:
1. Is the location convenient to get to within your day-to-day life?
2. Do you feel comfortable in the environment that’s been created there?
3. Have you budgeted to use their services consistently for the first few months?
4. Are their other clients similar to your demographic?
5. Do you feel confident about their ability to work with your health conditions/injuries?
If you answered yes to these questions (and any others you may have), ask about booking a consultation or introductory trial of their services to see if it’s a good fit.
5. Start slow and make it a habit
When you’re first starting out, motivation is at its highest and it can be easy to feel like going from 0 to 100 right away. But, at this stage, the goal should be to direct that motivational energy toward creating a solid habit of consistency rather than toward performing as many workouts as you can each week.
In the beginning, start with workouts that are easy to complete, and plan them for a frequency that is manageable for your schedule. Set a goal of sticking to it and building your capacity rather than worrying about performance in these early stages.
After 3 to 4 weeks, slowly build on either the frequency or the intensity to increase the challenge and continue from there as you keep being successful. If you find you’re overbooking yourself, dial things back and keep going.
This approach seems to be the opposite of what most people do (sitting on your couch to doing P90X for six days every week), and with a switch like that, it’s no wonder most people give up after a week.
Ready to get started with exercise?
Take a moment to write down your “why”, your “how” and your “what”, then get out there and try some things out! Don’t be afraid to revisit these categories every now and again to see if they still hold meaning to you or if it may be time to switch some things up.
Ultimately, success comes with finding what works for you, being consistent, and having some fun so, on that note, happy exercising!Tags: How to start working out, Kitsilano, Vancouver