The holidays are over, the leftovers have been demolished, and it’s feeling a lot like “new year, new me” season out there!
Once January rolls around, we tend to see a big increase in the number of people hitting the gyms and working on their goals. Whether you’re dealing with some unwanted holiday weight or have decided to set your sights on finally achieving those lifelong fitness goals in 2022, now is the perfect time to capitalize on that momentum and start getting active.
But getting started can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with working out. So whatever your healthy New Year’s resolutions are for the next 365 days, here’s how to start working out as a complete and total beginner.
Tips For Starting Your Fitness Journey
The first step to beginning your workout journey is to decide what you’d actually like to achieve. Do you want to lose weight? Build bigger, stronger muscles? Increase your endurance and athletic performance?
Different workouts can yield different fitness results. For example, if you’re trying to lose a ton of weight as efficiently as possible, you might want to incorporate some intense cardio workouts more frequently to get you into a caloric deficit for weight loss. On the other hand, if you want to start working on your gains and building muscle, you’ll probably want to get into a gym that includes good weightlifting equipment. Usually, the best workout routines include a healthy balance of both!
So before you begin, take stock of what you’re looking to achieve. The best goals are specificand measurableso that you can keep better track of your progress, so give yourself some numbers and deadlines (ie: “I am going to lose ten pounds by March 1st). This will also help guide you as you set up an action plan that you can follow through with.
Getting fit doesn’t necessarily have to mean pumping weights or running five miles every morning. It can also look like an energizing yoga session, hiking up and down a beautiful mountain, working on calisthenics in your living room, participating in a high-paced dance class, joining a team sport … you get the idea. The important thing for any exercise routine is that you stay consistent, so make sure that you’re looking into workouts that you can actually see yourself sticking to in the long run!
Don’t expect yourself to be able to pump iron like Arnold the first time you hit the gym. If you have never worked out before (or haven’t worked out in a long, long time), it might not be realistic to shoot for two hours of high-intensity training right away.
So it’s important to keep your expectations and your ego in stride as you begin to avoid frustration and discouragement that can throw you off your goals. Instead, aim small: keep your workouts short at first to get your bearings.
Similarly, don’t go for the heaviest weights or the fastest speeds right away. You should be pushing yourself, but not enough to cause potential injuries.
Working out for the first time can be daunting simply because it feels like there’s so much you need to know. There’s a lot of equipment involved, your body isn’t used to moving like that, and injuries are a very real possibility. How do you know if you’re doing an exercise right if you’ve never tried it before?
So it may be a good idea to enlist some help in the form of a friend or family member who knows what they’re doing. Even better, you can also hire a personal trainer to ensure that you’re doing your exercises as safely and efficiently as possible. You’ll feel more confident knowing that there’s someone by your side who’s ensuring that you’re on the right track and performing your workouts safely.
If you don’t know anyone who fits the bill, turn to the internet. There are plenty of workout videos on YouTube that you can follow along with until you get more confident in your workout routine.
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, because when it comes to working out, it’s 100% true: consistency is key! Doing one good workout every couple of weeks is probably not going to get you to your goals any time soon, but doing regular workouts throughout the week will.
Make a specific schedule that outlines when you will be hitting the gym -- for example, penciling in a workout sesh three times a week in your calendar is a good place to start. Then, make a commitment to stick to that schedule for at least the first full two months. Find ways to stay accountable, like treating yourself to something nice each month that you get all your workouts in or asking your friends for support and encouragement. It’ll help you start ingraining the good habits and get you past that initial learning curve hump.
Getting healthy and achieving your fitness goals is a lifelong journey that goes far beyond the New Year’s resolutions that you outline in the first couple of months of the new year. The best progress in fitness is slow and steady, so aim for progress over perfection.
And remember, everyone starts somewhere! Taking this first step will get you well on your way to the happier, healthier you one year from now. Happy New Year!