First and foremost, here’s my disclaimer: I am by no means a certified personal trainer or a fitness expert, so please take this advice with a grain of salt and talk to your physician before starting any physical fitness routine.
During the majority of my life, I had never really been interested in sports, nutrition or health, mostly because I didn’t consider myself athletic enough and hated the idea of working out.
Although I was heavily involved in dancing for my college dance team, most people who knew me well in undergrad knew that I actually hated going to the gym and working out. I simply felt I didn’t need it and honestly I was intimidated by the thought of people judging me as a weak girl. No, I wasn’t scared of getting bulky, I was intimidated because I literally knew nothing about working out and didn’t want to look like a fool. So for those of you who are like former me and have no idea what to do, here are some simple tips to start integrating fitness into your life.
Have a goal in mind
When you begin working out, you should ask yourself, why am I working out in the first place? Your answer could be anything from I want to lose weight so I’ll look good for my next beach vacation, all the way to I want to gain muscle because I can’t lift a suitcase in an airplane overhead bin (guilty).
One of the main reasons I started working out regularly is because I had stopped dancing completely for months and my body was starting to show signs of lack of exercise. After watching a lengthy movie in a movie theater, I would stand up and my knees would be stiff and sore. This had never happened to me before so I asked myself, what changed? The answer was complete lack of exercise. One of my initial goals was to prevent the stiff and sore knees from happening again, so I began to stretch regularly. I then started to attend group fitness classes which propelled the rest of my fitness journey.
Schedule workout sessions into your calendar
Having a workout calendar is vital to your success, especially when first beginning to work out. Printing out a calendar, writing down what you’ll be doing for the entire month, and posting it on your fridge is one of the best ways to provide self motivation. One of the most effective ways I found self-motivation is writing a giant X on each day I completed a workout. It’s somehow so incredibly fulfilling.
Putting your workout in your phone’s calendar will notify you to get your butt moving. I even put alarms that say “YOU CAN DO THIS!” just to self-motivate me. Having a plan for the week and scheduling the exact workout you will do makes it hard for you to miss your appointment.
Start with simple power walking
If you have knee problems or any health related issues, power walking is perhaps the easiest way to integrate exercise into your life. Low Intensity Steady State, as some may call it, has been proven to be extremely effective at burning fat.
A brisk pace of 4 miles per hour burns anywhere from 236 to 345 calories per hour depending on your level of effort. Some of the many benefits of power walking include reducing stress, releasing tension, and is much easier on the knees than running. Best of all, it’s free!
Invest in cute and comfortable workout gear
As I mentioned before, I didn’t really work out regularly, so my workout gear was fairly limited. Want to know where I started with my workout gear? Target. Yeah that’s right, I said it. I really like the brand Champion, what can I say. I tried some Lululemon leggings and absolutely hated them because they were so tight, although their bras are amazing.
One of the best places to find quality workout clothing at reasonable prices is at the outlet mall. If you are lucky enough to live near an outlet mall, check out Nike, Under Armour, North Face, etc. If you don’t have an outlet store near you, there are plenty of places to buy online. Zulily recently had a Lorna Jane sale where I bought some sports bras and a pair of shorts.
When you have cute clothes to wear, you have more incentive to work out!
Start an at-home fitness program
Working out at home is the most convenient way to get your workout in because you don’t have to drive anywhere. If you’re crunched for time in the morning, working out at home will provide you with that much needed time.
I love working out at home. Love it. So much so that I bought my very own set of PowerBlock dumbbells recommended by my favorite fitness-at-home Youtube gurus, FitnessBlender. My love for this couple runs deep and I’ve bought multiple programs because they are so inexpensive and totally worth it. While they do have paid workout programs, these aren’t necessary as they have over 400 free videos on YouTube. They truly want to improve the lives of people through their free workout videos.
BeachBody also produces some pretty awesome at-home workout DVDs. TurboFire and Insanity are two of my favorite programs and pretty much kick your booty into shape.
I’ve done Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno, Julian Michaels 30 Day Shred, Shaun T’s Insanity, Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide… the list goes on. I’m an at-home workout-a-holic.
Find an at-home program that works for you and start your routine in the privacy of your own home.
Work out with a friend
While it may be hard to accomplish this task right away, seek out a friend or colleague that will hold you accountable for your workouts. This one was huge for me because this basically helped propel my fitness journey so I would highly recommend finding a workout buddy.
If you are following a well known training program (see #5), it’s easy to connect with other people using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes even the program sponsored mobile app.
It helps if your friend knows a little bit about fitness and health and there’s an additional bonus if said friend won’t judge you for your complete lack of knowledge. Choose someone who is passionate about fitness but will also be encouraging.
Use an activity tracker
Activity trackers such as FitBit are an excellent way to monitor your daily activity. When you start tracking your steps, for example, you will realize just how sedentary you are in a typical day.
I’ve only ever used FitBit so I can only speak to this particular activity tracker, but I loved the fact that you can see your friends’ steps as well. The competitive nature of the app makes you want to actually get up and move, just so you can see the highly coveted number 1 next to your name.
Try out new classes
The great thing about physical fitness is that there are so many boutique studios and gyms that offer a wide variety of classes. The first group fitness class I truly enjoyed was Turbo Kick at 24 Hour Fitness. I had so much fun and loved how the atmosphere gave me so much energy.
I joined ClassPass for a couple of months before I truly found the form of exercise that I found myself wanting to go to at all times: barre. I would have never realized how much I loved barre had it not been for ClassPass! Maybe you’ll fall in love with yoga, pilates, barre, spin, or even a hybrid strength training/cardio class. While classes at some studios may be pricey, it prevents you from getting bored in the gym or at home.
Well, there you have it. 8 tips to get you started on your fitness journey. I am so glad I was able to finally integrate fitness into my life after years of painful resistance. I am happy to say that I am now addicted and can’t stop.