How to Start Working Out – And Finally Make It a Habit
Admit it, you’ve wondered…
How do they do it? People who work out consistently, be it every day or just three times a week – they’re somewhat of a mystery to you.
Especially friends who, up till recently, seemed glued to their couch, amaze you. How can it be that they are rocking their new year’s resolution (or their random decision to start exercising more) and you just can’t seem to get started or stick with a routine for more than a couple of weeks?
By now, you probably feel like working out is just not your thing. Like you’re not meant to be fit. Like life is too busy and you don’t have enough willpower to push through and exercise anyway.
You might have signed up at a gym, to get yourself stick with it. But the last time you were there was… wait, when? Clearly, that didn’t work…
And that’s not really a surprise. While this tactic might work for some, starting a workout routine is very personal and can’t be done in a one-size-fits-all way.
You need an approach that works for you – not your friend, coworker or the neighbor’s gardener.
Only by considering your unique situation, you’ll be able to make a lasting change, make your workout routine a part of your daily life and enjoy all the great benefits that come with getting fit.
How to do that? Here are a few steps you can take regardless of how fit you are, your exercise preferences or your lifestyle.
1. Understand Your Current Condition and Your Why
When starting a workout routine, think first about your current level of health and fitness and why you want to improve it.
Are you recovering from an injury or illness? Have you taken a long break because life got in the way and you want to get back on track? Maybe you’ve never worked out and recently decided that’s something you want to do because being completely winded when you chase your bus in the morning just isn’t fun.
Wherever you are in your fitness journey, be aware of it but avoid judging yourself. It’s time for a fresh start and new, meaningful goals.
2. Set Goals
By setting goals, you enable yourself to measure progress and work towards something that’s important to you.
Your target could be running your first 5K race, going for a three-hour trek without collapsing or mastering freestyle and swimming 20 laps without a break. It might also involve some day-to-day things like climbing from your ground floor to your attic without getting out of breath.
Understanding your current condition and your “why” will make it easier to set achievable, personal goals. If you don’t want to run a marathon, no need to aim for it just because others are. But if you want to get fit so you can play tag with your kids for more than two minutes, you have a powerful motivator.
Finally, the less your body is used to exercise, the slower you’ll have to start out and the longer it might take to improve and reach goals. That’s totally fine, it’s just something you need to consider at the beginning.
For more tips on improving your wellbeing, check out my list of simple things you can do to be healthier from today ?
3. Play Around – This Should Be Fun!
Deciding you want to work out and setting goals is a great first step! Now it’s time to choose an activity (or activities) you enjoy and can see yourself doing regularly.
If you don’t already have a go-to sport or workout, it’s time to try something new ?
There is so much to choose from: running, swimming, biking, hiking, rollerblading, CrossFit, Zumba… you see where I’m going… in all this, there’s bound to be one for you. You just need to find it.
How? Most gyms and exercise groups offer free trials. Take advantage of that to test an activity you’ve always been interested in. Maybe tennis? Kickboxing? Tabata?
If you like exercising with others, look on Facebook and local forums to connect with groups you could join.
This step might take some time but it’s critical. Because if you don’t like an activity or workout style, you won’t stick with it for long.
And you never know, if you try all this new stuff, you might even be able to cross some items off your bucket list!
If you’re still wondering about what type of exercise to pick, find out the differences between HIIT and low-intensity training, and which one is best for you.
4. There’s No Such Thing As “Too Busy”
You’ve wondered how some people find time to exercise even though they have a demanding job, kids and other hobbies, right?
Me too. But then I understood something. Yes, these people are busy. However, they find time to work out because it’s a priority for them. It’s more important than watching Netflix or sleeping in an extra hour. Once I made exercising a priority, suddenly I had time!
You can do the same.
When is the best time of day to exercise for you? Is it early in the morning, before work? Or right after work, on your way home? Or even during your lunch break? Yes, I know people who run or bike during lunch instead of sitting down to gossip with colleagues. Talk about priorities!
Then think about things you do, which aren’t necessary or important. Do you watch a lot of TV or aimlessly scroll through social media? Maybe you hit snooze three times before finally getting up?
Now, combine the two. Eliminate (or reduce) the time wasters and prioritize your workout during the time of day you’re most likely to do it. Voilà, suddenly you have time for a workout! ?.
5. Share the Joy – Join a Group
Getting started on your own can make the whole thing much harder. To stay motivated and committed (and make it all more fun!), join a group or club.
Especially at the beginning, joining a program of a set duration can work wonders. Many gyms or freelance trainers offer courses where you meet regularly for several weeks and build strength, endurance and flexibility together. Call gyms nearby or check on Facebook to see if anyone is offering this in your area.
For me, doing a five-week course was the best thing. I never missed a workout because I had paid for it in advance and made going for every single session a competition with myself. In the end, I won.
If you can’t or don’t want to make this investment, team up with some friends instead. If you get three or four people together that’s great cause even if one skips a workout, the others are still there to hold you accountable.
As with finding an exercise you like, you also need a group you enjoy. If you don’t like your coach/ trainer or the other participants, you’ll probably feel less motivated to roll out of bed an hour early to meet them.