We know that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life. However, embarking on a new fitness journey can be a daunting prospect. The process can make us feel body conscious and may force us to step into uncomfortable or unfamiliar territory.
Alas, we are here to help. To make your transition easier, we have compiled a list of our five top tips to give you the confidence to get past any lingering hesitation.
1. Decide what your fitness goals are & start small
Start by creating short-term and realistic fitness goals. For most, the 'ideal' end game is so far into the journey it can appear unachievable and demotivating.
You may have heard or said the phrase, "I'll never look like that", or, "I can't do that." Well the truth is no-one started out that way. Be sure not to set the bar too high and you will find setting realistic goals to be a powerful and motivating tool and achieving them even more so.
Avoid using the fear of a long journey to stop you making the first short one.
Is your goal weight loss? Stamina building? Muscle gain? Improved flexibility? Or simply the most common for us all - body image?
If your short term goal is to lose weight or build stamina, try going for a 10 minute walk 3 times a week. If you want to do more, then increase the length of the walk or up the frequency to 5 times a week.
If you want to start to build more muscle, try some basic home workouts to get a solid strength baseline. Start by doing some simple bodyweight exercises 3 times a week.
The important take-away point: Walk before you can run. Begin in your comfort zone and allow your confidence to grow. You CAN achieve these short term goals for your fitness journey and feel good about yourself.
2. Find what motivates you (this is an important one)
Motivation is like any other emotion, it can wear off if not regularly maintained.
You may initially feel motivated because you have a holiday coming up, or you are unhappy with the way you look or feel, or it could even be a medical reason for taking up exercise. Whatever the initial trigger for starting, it is important to let that grow into new motivational reasons. Similar to your short term goal setting, as your goals evolve, your motivation will evolve.
For example, initially you started because you wanted to tone up for a holiday - we've all been there. Fast forward two months and the buzz has worn away. You've seen improvements but start to slip off the wagon. This is the emotional factor of motivation. The excitement of getting fit for holiday has subdued and like a picture or a quote you once found motivating, its effects have diminished.
The solution? Change your focus from time to time. Keep it fresh and reflect upon what inspires you. Instead of having one motivating factor, have several that excite you to keep pushing.
The important take-away point: Your motivation will change throughout your fitness journey. Find new and interesting reminders to spark you into life and keep the desire to exercise and stay healthy.
3. Create healthy habits and triggers
Making fitness a habit could be the single biggest factor in being consistent with exercise. Motivation will get you part of the way, but if you can maintain this for long enough and create a habit from it, you will be more likely to remain consistent with your fitness plan.
If you have the luxury of going to the gym at the same time every day, then this is a great start. Studies have shown that regular exercise at the same time of day on average increases the amount of time spent exercising over the course of a week. (Source : Obesity Society 2019)
Are there any tricks that can help with forming a consistent habit?
The simple answer is yes. If you don't have the luxury of a regular training schedule and need that extra push, create your own habits by simply implementing a few triggers.
Try using uplifting music to get you in the mood, have a coffee or pre workout drink if that's your thing, or create a pre workout meal that will trigger your mind and body into preparing for exercise. If you use these triggers consistently then it becomes a simple tool to get you in the right headspace.
The important take-away point: Consistency is key to success. To aid this consistency, add in habits like a pre-workout routine that triggers your mind and body into thinking you are ready for activity.
4. Buy new gym clothes
You may suspect that this is a tad gratuitous given our position as fitness wear creators but studies have shown that putting on gym wear that you enjoy wearing is among the highest motivating factors for working out.
There is a number of reasons for this. The dress for success factor is real. You wouldn't go swimming with your jeans on. Wearing fitness wear that is designed for purpose, fits comfortably and you look good in, is one sure fire way to increase your confidence.
It's also a key aspect in lifestyle change. If you are determined to become consistent with an increasingly active fitness schedule, then invest in yourself and your wardrobe so you put this positive change at the forefront of your mind.
The important take-away point: Being in the right clothing that inspires you to be active is one of the highest motivators we have at our disposal. How much you spend is up to you, we don't recommend spending anymore than you can comfortably afford on any brand of fitness. Instead look for quality and style that meets your budget and boosts your fitness mood.
5. Speak to someone
We mean this in two senses. Friends and professionals.
Firstly, speaking to friends about your new goals can help you stay accountable for what you want to achieve. By sharing ideas, both you and your friends can learn more about the fitness world. Not everyone will find fitness interesting of course, and that's okay, they just haven't seen the light yet. But as fitness is an ever growing community, you can make friends and increase your social circle by talking about it in and out of the gym as well as endless amounts of online fitness groups that cater for almost every type of gym goer. This in itself provides great mental stimulation and motivation for you to feed off.
Secondly, speak to a trainer at your gym. Most of the larger gym chains offer a free consultation service as part of your membership. Some you may have to pay for. However, if you don't have the experience you need to reach your goals or are daunted at the thought of exercising, then utilise the knowledge that is on offer to you. Most trainers cover all areas of fitness, however, some have more experience in specific fields so don't be afraid to ask who has the best knowledge with regards to your individual needs.
Questions like; Who is best for running programmes? Who can give me the best weight training programme? Sometimes a little knowledge can go a long way.
The important take-away point: Don't train in secret. Shout about your new found joy and positive changes you're making. It can be infectious and you could be the motivating factor for others to take up exercise. And if you don't know the answer or correct way of doing something, never be scared to ask. It's a continuous and rewarding learning process.
We hope this article has given you new and exciting things to consider in your never ending pursuit of wellness, and as always we urge you to feel confident in yourself for making a positive and fun addition to your lifestyle. If this article has helped, then please share it amongst your friends.