If you're thinking about starting on a workout routine, congratulations! Taking care of your mental health, getting better sleep & keeping your heart healthy are some of the reasons to make exercising a part of your life. But I totally get that getting started can be incredibly overwhelming—it feels like there's a million different ways to start and ALL of it seems too advanced for a beginner. How do you take that first step?
The best way to learn what works for you is to just get out there and try it—which is both the hardest and the most important step. The fact that there is a whole world of fitness out there is a beautiful thing. You've got options so that you can customize your workout plan exactly the way you want to. There's no one "right way" to embrace fitness. If you have no idea where to start, consider this a true beginning point - an outline for you. Be patient, plan to be consistent and get ready to life that healthy lifestyle you've been dreaming about!
1. Invest in a good pair of sneakers, a supportive sports bra & a workout outfit you love.
Finding a pair of comfortable, supportive sneakers has got to be your first move! I'm a physical therapist and the WORST thing that I hear too often is that someone is geared up, READY and motivated to start exercising but then they get hurt the first week in. It's devastating. If you don't work with a PT then I suggest getting over to Footprints (if you're in CT) or a New Balance store - because they can measure your foot and fit you with the right shoe.
Personally, I am extremely motivated by new workout clothes! You don't have to go super expensive, but grabbing a supportive sports bra and a few cute tops/shorts will do wonders for making you feel the part! Even if you have weight to lose and don't like the way you look or feel in them now - you can always upgrade as a reward for when you meet your goals!
2. Start by scheduling just three workouts a week at convenient times. As you get started working out, think about long-term consistency. A great question to ask yourself is, 'How many days a week can you realistically fit into your life?' Ideally, you will need to work yourself up to 4-5 days a week but you certainly don't have to START there if that's too overwhelming. Begin by scheduling just two-three workouts a week. They can be short 30 minute interval training workouts, weight lifting sessions or yoga in the beginning. Really it is the HABIT you are creating, not necessarily the workouts specifically. Setting a realistic goal is key to sticking with it, and since you'll probably be sore after your first handful of workouts, this means you'll have a few days to recover in-between workouts. It's also important to plan your workouts at the most convenient times possible. Like, if you know you're always exhausted at the end of a workday, it's probably not ideal to plan a 7 P.M. workout. You're going to skip it and feel defeated. You may just have to bite the bullet and wake up an hour earlier - even if you're not a morning person. Set yourself up for success by picking days and times you can really commit to.
3. Sign up for workout classes geared specifically toward beginners. If you're thinking about trying a class, look for studios that offer beginner or intro classes—it's more likely that the intensity and speed will be dialed back and the instructor will give more in-depth instructions, so you're less likely to get lost. If you are choosing to do workouts from YouTube or online, don't be afraid to modify exercises on your own and take breaks when you need them, regardless of what everyone else is doing. You have to give yourself grace and be okay with where you are right now. Never feel ashamed for listening to your body and taking breathers when you need to.
4. Try different types of workouts until you find the ones you truly like. The best workout for you is the one you'll actually do! The number one way to find the best fit for you is through trial and error, even though it may feel annoying at first. If the idea of running makes you cringe, start with something else. But if you think you might not hate it, by all means, lace up and give it a try! The same trial-and-error process works for deciding on where and when you work out, too. If group settings aren't your thing, maybe you find that the convenience of at-home workouts are better for you, or that doing your own thing in a gym setting is most motivating.
5. Have a game plan for when you're not feeling motivated. #accountability partner Even if you're super dedicated to your new fitness goals, some days motivation alone just won't cut it. Create an internal insurance policy with a friend. Even if they're not actually working out with you (which is the best plan), maybe you can fill them in on your workout plans and check in with them so they can be your support system. Another way that I plan for success is to set out my workout clothes (I workout at home in the mornings) or you could pack your gym bag if you have to leave the house. If you're trying to establish a new morning workout habit, it's much easier to give in and hit snooze if you aren't already prepared. Just knowing you put in the effort the day before to prepare can be a motivating factor for getting out of bed.
6. Identify your "why" and focus on your own journey—not someone else's. This is a huge part of staying motivated, consistent, and positive when you're first starting to work out. Identifying why you're deciding to start a regular workout program into your life will help you reach your goals. This is CRITICAL, it's hard to go that deep but your WHY has to mean enough to you to fall back on when you feel like quitting. Maybe it's being able to keep up with your kids, feeling strong in your own body, or just setting aside time to focus on your own well-being.
Ultimately, fitness should be about your own goals and what feels right for you. When you're first starting on your fitness journey, it can be easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, but let's not do that! We all move at our own pace and try to focus on what is best and most enjoyable for you and your needs. It's not a race, there is no finish line and healthy is a lifelong journey!
Need more help getting started? Want help with the structure, routine & accountability?