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Well, the fact that there is a whole world of fitness out there is a beautiful thing. It means you have so many options, that you can customise your workout plan exactly the way you want to. Whether you end up loving morning or night workouts, running or boxing, group classes or at-home videos, there’s no one “right way” to embrace fitness. The best way to learn what works for you is to just get out there and try it—which is both the hardest and the most important step.
If you have no idea where to get started, consider this your road map to finding a workout routine that you can stick to. With a little patience, consistency, and sweat, you’ll forget what life was like before you started working toward your fitness goals.
1. Invest in a good pair of training shoes, a supportive sports bra, and a workout outfit you love.
Finding a pair of comfortable, supportive athletic shoes is one of your first moves, Shauna Harrison, Ph.D., a group fitness instructor and creative director of fitness class booking app Zenrez. The best way to find the right pair is to try on a few in an athletic shoe or sports store and ask an associate for guidance—they’ll be able to make sure you have the right fit and point you in the direction of versatile shoes that are great for a variety of workouts (rather than just running or just CrossFit).
2. Start by scheduling just two workouts a week at convenient times.
“As you get started working out, think about long-term consistency. A great question to ask yourself is, ‘How many days a week can you realistically fit into your life?’” says Tanker. She recommends working your way up to three to four days a week, but that doesn’t mean you have to start there.
Begin by scheduling just two workouts a week, Tanker suggests. These can be as short as a 30-minute resistance training workout, Jen Comas, C.P.T., co-founder of Girls Gone Strong. Setting a realistic goal is key to sticking with it, and since you’ll probably be sore after your first handful of workouts, this means you’ll have a few days to recover in-between workouts. On your off days, simply get moving, which can be as straightforward as taking a walk, says Comas. As you build up your stamina and conditioning, increase the frequency and length of your workouts—try to add in a third day of working out around week four of your new routine, says Tanker.
It’s also important to plan your workouts at the most convenient times possible—for example, if you know you’re always exhausted at the end of a workday, it’s probably not ideal to plan a 6 P.M. workout. You’ll be more likely to end up skipping it. Conversely, if you’re just so not a morning person, don’t try to force yourself to make it to a 7 A.M. class. Set yourself up for success by picking days and times you can really commit to.
3. Buy some basic equipment to try at-home workouts.
If you’re not quite ready to jump into a gym setting yet, consider getting started with some at-home workouts.
While plenty of at-home workouts require nothing more than your bodyweight to complete them, you can also keep some simple equipment at home to work with, which gives you more options. “I recommend getting two pairs of dumbbells—one lighter set and one heavier set—and a jump rope. This provides a ton of possibilities, and requires very little space for storage,” says Comas.
4. If you’re looking into joining a gym, go in with a list of questions to ask before you sign up.
If you are ready to start working out at a gym, choose one that’s close to your home or work—this makes it more likely that you’ll actually show up. Once you pinpoint one that sounds like a fit, call to make an appointment with a membership advisor and see the gym before you dive in.
A few questions Tanker says you may want to ask: Are there month-to-month memberships, or do they only do year-long commitments? Do they offer a trial period for a week or two? What classes are offered? When is the gym busiest? When you’re just starting out, walking into a packed gym can feel scary, so you may want to make sure its peak hours aren’t the same as the only times you can work out, says Comas.
Before you commit, ask if the gym offers a free trial. Most gyms will give you a couple days or a week to try it out before you sign on the dotted line, which is a good way to make sure there’s nothing that truly bothers you (like dirty locker rooms or too few of your favorite machines to ever get a spot during peak times) before you sign up.