It’s so easy to envy those others on television or social media. You know, the people who look like they have it all – the perfect life, body, family, job, etc. Their lifestyle seems just so perfect that it feels unattainable. So we continue about our lives, always dreaming of becoming better but never actually trying to make a change.
And oftentimes, that dream is as simple as starting an exercise routine.
Following a long-term fitness program feels nearly impossible, let alone just starting to work out for the first time.
At times, the challenge of beginning an exercise routine feels so great that we don’t even want to try.
But although it might feel intimidating and a bit foreign in the beginning, taking the first steps to start exercising is actually quite simple.
If you’ve made up your mind that you are ready to begin a fitness routine and just aren’t quite sure where to begin, these 4 simple steps will help you get started.
Check out how to start working out for the first time – and before you know it, you’ll be living that fitness lifestyle of which you’ve always dreamed.
4 Steps to Start an Exercise Routine (for the First Time)
Step 1: Experiment with different workouts and activities.
So many of us quickly give up after starting a fitness program because it feels too hard, time consuming or boring. While starting to exercise for the first time will inevitably have its challenges, fitness shouldn’t be an activity that you dread.
It’s tempting to start running just because your best friend loves it or begin a weight training program because your co-worker experienced great results from hers. But just because others love or have found success with these activities doesn’t necessarily mean that you will as well.
The key to starting an exercise routine that you will stick to is finding various workouts that you love. And in order to do so, you’ll probably have to try quite a few.
If you are starting a fitness program from scratch, it’s important that you dedicate the first few weeks of your journey to testing out as many different workouts and sports as possible. Try sports you’ve never tried before, such as running, swimming, biking, and any others that sound appealing.
Head to the gym with a friend and experiment with their various weight machines, as well as cardio equipment such as the elliptical and spin bike. Look up some bodyweight workouts to explore at home in your living room, head to a group fitness class, or try a yoga routine on YouTube.
Remember that you’re not going to love every type of exercise that you try – and that’s okay. The key to these first few weeks is keeping track of what activities are boring, those that you hate, and those that surprised you. But remember – you’ll never know if you don’t try.
Step 2: Narrow your focus to a few activities that you love.
After a few weeks of experimentation, it’s time to narrow your focus. Now is the time to get rid of those workouts that left you bored out of your mind, and focus in on those which peaked your interest.
Exercise won’t always feel easy, especially as you are just starting to workout for the first time. But even so, there were likely a few work outs that left you feeling accomplished and proud – maybe even intrigued.
Pinpoint these activities and continue on with only the things that you loved. Finding a few different forms of exercise will be helpful for mixing things up each week, keeping your entire body strong, and avoiding monotony once you begin your exercise routine.
Continue to try new activities until you find at least 2-3 that you truly enjoyed (and remember, that doesn’t mean they felt easy). Perhaps you enjoyed running, yoga and bodyweight workouts, or you loved that Zumba class, the elliptical and strength training. There is no right or wrong combination.
Step 3: Create a plan and set fitness goals.
Once you’ve found a few different types of exercise that you love, it’s time to create a plan and set some goals. Starting a fitness routine is hard enough as it is, but setting out with no goals or purpose will leave you more likely to quit down the road after the initial excitement fades.
Set a few goals for your fitness program. Are you hoping to lose weight, gain strength, feel better, or compete in some way? Write down everything you’re hoping to gain once you start exercising.
Use these goals to help create a fitness plan that is realistic, yet challenging. It might be helpful to map things out just one week at a time in the beginning, so you are able to adjust your workouts and goals after seeing what all you are able to accomplish the first week or two.
Try to mix up your workouts and always include rest days. Start out with a simple exercise routine that involves completing a 30 minute workout on every week day, with the weekends off. Follow up tough, cardio workouts with slower paced workouts to balance things out and give your body a break.
With a plan in place, you’ll be more likely to commit and follow through as you get started with your fitness routine.
Step 4: Stick to a consistent exercise schedule.
If there is one thing that will make or break your ability to maintain an exercise routine in the long term, it is consistency. Specifically, consistency as you get started exercising for the first few weeks.
Maintaining a consistent fitness routine is especially crucial in those beginning weeks, when you are starting to work out for the very first time. It will likely feel tempting to quit when the workouts feel hard, when you’re really tired at the end of the day, or when finding time to fit them in feels nearly impossible.
When motivation falters, remind yourself of the goals you set and your reasons for starting in the first place. Tell yourself that you are going to complete two weeks, one month, or 3 months of exercise no matter what – before allowing yourself to even think about giving up.
Once you’ve established a consistent exercise routine and successfully maintained it for a little while, it will probably be a lot harder to just give up. Seeing progress and feeling proud of everything you’ve accomplished is one of the biggest motivators to continue.
Remember that starting anything for the first time is never easy – but that’s what makes it so rewarding. Making the decision to start an exercise routine for the very first time is an admirable one. And after those first few weeks, when your body is feeling stronger than ever before, you’ll probably wonder why you never started sooner.