We all have things we’re super passionate about. For me, three things I get really excited about are fitness, dogs, and blogging. I could talk to you for hours about any of those things. Daily. And never get bored. But for the purpose of today’s post, I’m going to focus on fitness — specifically fitness for newbies just starting out. It’s that time of year when resolutions are on people’s minds, so if you don’t work out regularly and are thinking of changing that in the near future, then this post is for you. It’s based on my experience as a fitness enthusiast and instructor, working in a gym, learning from my own mistakes over the years, and observing those around me.
5 Things to NOT do when starting a workout routine
I discovered fitness at my university gym back when I was a freshman. My tuition came with access to the school’s fitness facilities and I loved that there was a cycling studio at the one closest to my dorm. Indoor cycling was completely new to me and my roommate and I tried it on a whim. I loved it and was hooked from that first class.
My fitness repertoire soon expanded to weights and group fitness classes and I’m so thankful to my 18-year-old self for taking a chance on a new class. Through college, work life after, and two moves to France, fitness has been a staple in my routine and is part of my lifestyle. I love spreading my workout vibe and sharing info with others on how to get started, so here we go.
If you’re looking to start a workout routine, here are a couple of things to avoid:
1. Don’t start too strong
Having a goal for yourself in terms of workout frequency is great but the last thing you want to do when you start a new routine is set yourself up for failure. There are so many things in life that disappoint us and stress us out that our exercise routine — something that’s positive — shouldn’t be one of them. So to prevent ourselves from burning out before we even get a routine going, it’s important to begin with a sustainable workout frequency.
Choose a frequency that you know you can maintain throughout the winter and beyond. Baby steps. Instead of going from not working out at all to 5 times per week, try 2 or 3 times a week. It’s great if you want to work out 5 days per week and can maintain that now when you’re super motivated, but will you feel the same way when it’s dark at 5 p.m., freezing cold, and you’d rather knock out some Christmas shopping or go somewhere with a friend? Within a month or two, you might have trouble sticking to 5 times/week despite your best intentions. Commit to 2-3 days/week max, every week, and then feel confident and pleased with yourself as you knock out your workouts as planned. If you do manage more, that’s an added bonus.
If you start too strong and then start missing workouts when life gets in the way, you’ll feel disappointed in yourself and your confidence will take a hit. If you set up a schedule that’s mentally and physically do-able from the get-go, you’re more likely to stick with it in the long run.
2. Don’t work out too intensely
I’m a big fan of working out hard, but if you’re just starting, ease your way into a challenging routine. If you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, try to ramp up your fitness routine little by little. When you feel up to it, kick the intensity up a notch. I know it can sometimes feel like more is better especially if you want to start off with a bang, but it’s actually counter intuitive. Jumping right into high-intensity work if you’re not used to it can put a strain on your body and set you up for injury. Along with that, there’s no need to exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time when you’re just starting. Even less than that can be efficient and beneficial. With efficient work, you can get a lot done in 30 minutes, so do what feels right. Something is better than nothing!
3. Don’t do an activity you hate
There are only 24 hours in a day and we’re all busy. When it comes to your leisure time, you want to be enjoying yourself, so don’t do a fitness activity you hate. If you hate high-energy workouts, opt for something a little more chill, and vice versa. There are so many incredible workouts out there that it serves zero purpose to waste time doing something you hate. Set yourself up for success from day 1 by doing something you LOVE or at least get some type of enjoyment from. Try different things and see what lights you up.
4. Don’t discount the value of at-home workouts
If you don’t want to work out in public or spend time driving to the gym (or a membership isn’t in the budget), give working out at home some thought. From free YouTube workouts like Sydney’s channel to paid apps like Peloton and Les Mills to working out on your own, there’s no limit on how you can work your body from the comfort of your own home. A few accessories may make it more interesting for you but don’t discount good, old-fashioned body weight work. No equipment or tons of space needed!
5. Don’t expect overnight results
Your body needs time to adapt to your new routine, so if it feels tough at first or like you’re not getting anywhere, stick with it. If you’re trying to build muscle, increase cardio endurance, or some other measurable goal, keep in mind that you’ll need 4 weeks minimum to see even a small improvement — and that’s on the low end of the spectrum. This depends on a variety of factors, but don’t get discouraged if you’ve been working hard for a couple of weeks and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Stick with it and your body and mind will thank you.
Do you love or loathe exercise or somewhere in between? Do you have any tips to add for those just starting out?