When it comes to fitness, everyone starts somewhere … and does so more often than you might think.
The average American has tried five different workout routines in the past two years. But if you’re looking to restart your health and fitness commitment after a hiatus, it can feel overwhelming to start anew.
First, give yourself credit for deciding to embrace a healthier lifestyle! Only 6.8 percent of the US population engaged in four healthy lifestyle factors that include not smoking, adequate fruit and vegetable intake, adequate physical activity, and normal body weight.
To strive to be part of that small percentage is already a victory. The following are 10 tips to start a new fitness routine so that you can make a sustainable part of your lifestyle. (Just remember to check in with a doctor before starting any new fitness routine.)
You are unique
The most important thing to remember is that your exercise routine is about you and your individual goals, preferences, and interests. It’s not about anyone else.
Regardless of what you might see on social media or elsewhere online, everyone was a beginner at some point. The yogi that pulled off an impressive handstand. The runner that set a personal record in a marathon race. The weight lifter that knocked out 10 full pull-ups with apparent ease. You name it. They all started somewhere, too, and you’re now seeing the result of their consistency and practice.
By finding the fitness program that excites you in some way (even if only a little), you’re more likely to stick with it long enough to progress and have your own wins to celebrate. The good news is that there are so many fitness programs to choose from, so don’t skimp on your research. Make sure you know what’s available locally and online so that you can find the best fit for you.
Identify your ‘why’
Beyond finding a program that you’re excited about, a huge part of staying motivated, consistent, and positive about starting to work out is your “why.”
Again, this is unique to you.
So, why are you starting to work out? Do you want to feel more confident in your skin? Chase and play with your grandkids? Have more energy at work?
There’s a wide range of possible reasons for your new fitness routine, but if you don’t pause to acknowledge your biggest reason(s), then it’s harder to tap into that when your motivation runs out.
Once you know your “why,” write it down somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
Set (small) goals to start
There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals. But when you’re starting to work out, it’s important to set and strive to achieve small goals.
This could be as simple as an attendance goal, such as three workouts per week or drinking twice as much water as soda (until you can eliminate soda entirely). (Of course, if you do set a minimum attendance goal, just make sure that you’re still striving to move a little each day by parking farther away in the parking lot, using the stairs and etc.)
These goals can definitely be related to your “why,” but the most important aspect here is that these goals are doable and help keep you on track. And every achieved goal should be celebrated in some way, such as a relaxing bath or spur-of-the-moment pedicure. Whatever you enjoy!
Once you get into a rhythm and have some new habits set, you can easily up the ante with new, bigger goals. And don’t forget to track your progress along the way.
Find an accountability partner
You don’t have to take on this new fitness routine by yourself. Finding an accountability partner who can do the workouts with you or shares your motivation for eating healthier (or both) can make all the difference when you’re starting out.
Those who commit to their fitness goals with another person are about 65 percent more likely to achieve them, but that jumps to 95 percent if they commit to regular accountability meetings to check in on their progress.
To have that and be that for someone else is powerful.
If you don’t have a friend or relative who would make a good accountability partner, consider connecting with someone at your workouts. This can feel difficult at first, but such as at Kaia FIT, the atmosphere should be open and friendly to make it as easy as possible to find an accountability partner.
Try different types of workouts first
You never know until you know. And that goes for workouts, too. It’s all about trial and error, even though it can feel daunting. Just know that something will resonate with you and excite you to do more, whether it’s an in-person or online class. Stay patient and open-minded.
Even when you find something you love, keep exploring. Your mind and body will benefit from muscle confusion and different focuses. For example, you might find that you love TRX suspension training, but you should still give Yoga a try since it’d add relaxation and stretching to your routine.
Invest in workout gear
Regardless of what type of fitness routine you’re about to start, you want to be well-prepared. Important gear that you should have includes a pair of comfortable athletic shoes, supportive sports bras, and moisture-wicking, athletic tops and bottoms.
Not only do these items serve a practical need, but they can help you “feel the part” as you’re getting started.
If you’re trying something that may require additional gear (such as running, rock climbing, at-home workouts, so on), start with the most needed items and then add more along the way so that you can make sure not to go overboard and only purchase what you really need (and what you’d actually use).
Work out a time that works for you
While there’s debate on what the best time of day to work out is, one fact is true: The best time for you to work out is whatever time fits your lifestyle, preferences, and energy level.
Usually, the best way to figure this out is to try different times as you’re getting started. See when you feel best and are most likely to do it. Maybe you are a morning workout person, or maybe heading to your gym after work suits you better.
Just don’t let yourself in an all-or-nothing mentality. If you’re a morning workout person but have to go to work early for the next couple of weeks, open yourself up to the possibility of temporary evening workouts to keep your momentum going.
Learn the basics
Once you do find a type of workout that fits you, don’t dive all in immediately. It’s important to learn and understand the basics first.
This could involve taking beginner lessons first that walk you through the foundational work and/or where instructors give more detailed instruction so that you’re less likely to get lost or frustrated.
You want your workouts challenging but not so difficult that you’re feeling defeated. So, if a beginner lesson isn’t available, don’t be shy and make sure that you let the instructor know that you are new (and voice any concerns you might have). Remember, you are just starting out, and the instructor’s job is to support you. The more they know, the more effective they can be for you specifically.
Avoid too much too soon
It’s very common for beginners to do too much too soon. Whether that’s the quantity or frequency of your workouts, the amount of weight you’re lifting, or something else.
This can happen out of an eagerness to hit your goals. Just know that you should and can take breathers as you need. Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace along the way.
Doing too much too soon can work against your goals by burning you out or even injuring yourself. This new routine is about making sustainable lifestyle changes for the rest of your life. You have time.
The more you can prepare, the easier these changes to your lifestyle can be.
That could involve setting out your workout clothes the night before will make waking up to an alarm and getting in a workout early in the morning that much easier. It can also be about booking your workout classes for the week the weekend before and adding them to your calendar. Nutrition, planning, and meal prepping are critical to successful healthy eating.
Take some time to identify where your hurdles might be with this new routine. How can you plan and prepare ahead of time to make those hurdles as small as possible?
When starting a new fitness routine, keep everything as simple as possible. You’re making changes that should last a lifetime. Remember that it’s not about perfection, only about progress. Any setbacks are just that: temporary setbacks. As long as you’re trying, you’re never failing.
Kaia FIT is a women’s fitness and nutrition program that empowers women to become the best version of themselves through personalized coaching in a group environment. We prioritize community to help connect women to each other for additional support and accountability. Caren Roblin is the owner of Kaia FIT Sierra, with four studio locations in Reno-Sparks.