Starting an Exercise Routine can be overwhelming, and it may cause you to quit mentally even before you start if you get too overwhelmed with the details. After all, there are so many types of exercise, cardio, weight lifting, yoga, pilates, barre, kickboxing, boot camp, AHHHH your head will be spinning as you scroll through Pinterest, especially if exercise in general is a foreign word in your vocabulary.
That’s why I want to give some tips on starting an exercise routine. I just started teaching boot camp again after a long hiatus. I am now working at Burn Boot camp in Charlotte, and have had the luxury of meeting 500+ women in the past week all on a journey towards health and fitness. After talking to them, I’ve realized that my camps are their first attempt at exercise in years, and there are so many questions. I wanted to summarize some of the main questions I’m getting in hopes of helping someone on their own personal journey.
So here are 10 tips, in no particular order that I would suggest if you are a beginner looking to start a new exercise routine:
- Get a plan. The easiest way to do this is to first have a goal. If you want to become a runner, find a couch to 5k plan, read a few running blogs, and learn a bit of the lingo. If you want to get more active, look for a class or an online plan that you can easily follow. Exercise classes are a great way to try all different kinds of exercise while still getting some guidance from an instructor. Or hire a personal trainer, they can create a plan for you to follow based on your specific goals! There are a ton of online training programs as well, that are often much less expensive than in person. I recommend a beginners plan to weight lifting as well. Lifting weights is imperative to overall health, and I think everyone should engage in weight training at least 2 times a week if possible <— but that’s just me!
- Stop being self-limiting with your words and attitude. We tend to talk ourselves out of so much. Giving reasons like “I’m not flexible” as a reason not to try yoga or “I don’t have any rhythm, I couldn’t possibly like a dance class” or my least favorite, “I can’t!”. With that attitude you are doing yourself a disservice. Give things a chance. Try them out and then form your opinion. You might surprise yourself!
- Mark your calendar with the days you are going to exercise, block off the time and keep the appointment. This time should be sacred to you, so try not to let it get moved around too much. Remember why you wanted to start this journey and write yourself notes to keep yourself motivated. Have these reminders go off as an alarm in your phone, giving you constant motivation!
- Start slow. Start slowly, the worst thing you can do is start off thinking you are going to exercise 5-6 days a week after being sedentary for years. It’s going to stress you out and you will soon hate the idea. Instead start slow and gradually add days, time, and intensity!
- Find a friend, or hire a trainer! Having someone to hold you accountable is often the key to success as a beginner. Find a friend with similar goals who has been exercising consistently, and ask if you can tag along. This way you know you have someone that will hold you accountable.
- If you are unsure, hire a trainer. It will be money well spent. Explain to the trainer that you are trying to get a basic understanding of what will work best for your goals. Have them sit down and create a plan that is suitable to your goals. Over 6 weeks, you should learn all the exercises you need to become self sufficient. There are so many options, you can find a trainer at a gym nearby or even hire one online. I am launching PancakeWarriors Fitness soon(2 weeks!!) and will have programs designed for all levels of fitness that we will personalize to get the best results based on your goals and your history.
- Buy the right equipment. One of the biggest causes of injury and discomfort that can be avoided is improper equipment. For example, if you are planning on going to a boot camp or starting a running routine, you might want to ensure you have a well fitting sports bra (for women) and a pair of shoes designed for what you are doing. I would recommend having a pair of shoes just for running; if you are planning on learning how to run/jog. I would also invest in a pair of cross trainers for boot camp, kick boxing, or dance. Alternatively you can ask the instructor what they recommend after you try the class one or two times and know you are committed. Well fitting clothes that whisk away sweat can make exercise more tolerable. There is nothing worse than an over sized cotton shirt, heavy with sweat, weighing you down during exercise. The same goes for Pilates, Barre or Yoga. Be sure to have the right equipment. Usually the studio will post their recommendations online, but you can always call ahead as well.
- Hydrate like it’s your job. Even on the days you aren’t training. This helps avoid cramps, and helps flush the toxins out of your body. Being well hydrated also allows your muscles to be suspended in water, freely moving when you do workout. Only drinking soda or coffee and tea as your main sources of water, these caffeinated beverages are actually diuretics, which leech even more water out of your system. When you are dehydrated you don’t have as much energy and you recover slower. This makes exercise less enjoyable. Can’t stand water? No problem, check out these awesome recipes to transform your water without added sugar!
- Fuel properly. Be sure to have a small snack in the morning before your workout if you find that you are getting dizzy in your early morning workout class. Peanut butter and a half of a banana are a great option. Alternatively, you might find that you do best on a handful of nuts or a protein shake. You will need to experiment to find what works for your body, but don’t’ get discouraged!! Don’t stuff yourself with dinner and then try to come to a high intensity class or hot yoga. You will regret it! You will likely get stomach cramps, or feel sick! Instead eat something small before class like a few homemade energy bites, chocolate chocolate chip protein cookies or a (decaf) mocha cookie smoothie.
- Realize that fitness is a journey. Don’t get caught up in the comparison game. Yes there will be people that are more fit then you. So what, this is your story, your journey. Everyone starts somewhere. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s 7 year plan.
If you want some beginners workouts, check out a few of my favorite workout ideas:
What about you?
- What tips do you have for beginners starting an exercise routine?
- Do you have resources to recommend to a beginner?
- What is one thing you wish someone told you on your fitness journey?