How to Start & Maintain a Fitness Routine

Starting to workout may seem like a simple thing. All you have to do is start, right? Anyone who has bought a gym membership in January only to find it gathering dust by March will tell you knowing how to start exercising is one thing, maintaining a fitness routine is quite another. Fortunately, we have gathered the most effective tips and tricks for how to start exercising and then how to maintain a fitness routine for life.

How to Start Exercising

Whether you are enthusiastic about taking the first step to a healthier you, or you are starting to workout under duress, many people don’t think about starting a workout routine beyond Googling, “How to start exercising”. Before you sign up for “strength training for beginners” or lace up those shoes and don that spandex, consider the following.

Starting to Workout Step 1: What’s your vision?

In their book, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, authors Chip and Dan Heath lay out a step by step process for creating lasting change. When it comes to exercise for beginners, two of the biggest challenges detailed in this book are establishing an overall vision and shrinking the change.
Having an overarching vision of what success looks like will help propel you forward on the days when you don’t want to exercise. Do you have a goal outfit you want to wear? A race you want to complete? A trip you want to take? A lifestyle you want to have? Spend some time constructing a clear picture of what success looks like for you when you are exercising regularly. It even helps to have a mantra or affirmation you say to yourself when right before you exercise that reinforces this vision.

Starting to Workout Step 2: Break it down

Rather than throwing away all the pasta and bread in the house, hitting the gym 7 days a week and swearing off dessert and alcohol forever, shrink the huge change you are trying to make down to one thing. This helps to create momentum and reminds you what it feels like to win. Week one’s goal might be to move your body in some way every day. Week two’s goal might be to move your body and stop eating after 8 pm. Once you have a few wins under your belt, you may want add a liter of water to your day. You get the picture. Remember, changing everything at once is a surefire way to become overwhelmed and fail. But you can change one thing today.

Starting to Workout Step 3: Check your schedule

Build exercise into your schedule every day. Yes, kids get sick. Work has a last-minute meeting. And life definitely gets in the way. When you are starting to workout, it is important to schedule exercise into your day. Every day. Add it to your calendar the same way you would any other appointment and be sure to treat it like one. Don’t be late, don’t cancel at the last minute, and don’t make excuses why you can’t be there.

Starting to Workout Step 4: Enlist help

When it comes to exercise for beginners, just starting to workout is often overwhelming. What are all of those machines? Do I really need a gym membership? What if I hate running? Fortunately, personal trainers are experts in developing workout routines that meet your time constraints, interests, budget, and physical abilities. Best of all, they can meet you anywhere – not just at a gym – to show you the best exercise for beginners that you can stick to.

Maintaining Your Routine

Once you have taken the first step to start exercising, it’s important to know how to maintain your routine lest you slip back into old, potentially sedentary habits.

Exercise for Beginners: Establish habits

Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”, he talks about how everything we do in life can be broken down into three parts – a cue, an action and a reward. Sometimes these cues are intentional, like putting on your shoes before you go for a run, other times they are unconscious, like getting a cookie every day at 3:00pm. Once you identify the cue, the action and the reward, you can begin to shape your habits into constructive parts of your life.

Let’s say you are a morning exerciser, getting dressed down to your workout shoes as soon as you wake up cues your brain that it is time for exercise without ever having to decide if you’re going to workout or not. The act of lacing up your shoes causes you to crave the adrenaline and endorphins that come after exercise (the reward) making it harder to skip your workout (the action). When you are just starting to workout, creating habits that set you up for action without having to make a decision automatically set you up for greater success.

Exercise for Beginners: Strength training for beginners is vital to success

A person cannot live on cardio alone. Not only does weight training add variety to exercise for beginners, when you skip strength training, you are missing out on a host of added health benefits. Strength training provides so many benefits – from toning, adding muscle mass, preventing muscle loss, building bone density, correcting your posture, and keeping you injury free. Best of all, the best strength training for beginners relies on your own body weight rather than dumbbells, kettlebells, bars, or machines. A personal trainer can help you craft the best strength workout for your body and fitness goals with the equipment you have (or that the trainer brings to you).

Exercise for Beginners: Don’t lose sight of your vision

Remember that vision you so carefully crafted when you were starting to workout? Sometimes we get impatient to reach that place we see so vividly in our minds. That’s the point when you might be tempted to abandon your plan for the latest-and-greatest caveman-keto-plant based-no carb-high carb diet and exercise plan. Resist that temptation. When you have a firm grasp on your vision, you will know that you are not starting to workout for a quick fix. You are changing your life. Even if you’ve mastered strength training for beginners and are moving on to more advanced workouts, don’t compare your chapter 3 with someone else’s chapter 50. Skip social media, stick to your plan, celebrate your wins, and know that the changes in your body will happen.

Exercise for Beginners: Enlist help. Again and again…

Many folks enlist help from a personal trainer when they are just getting started. You may find you need their expert advice throughout your fitness journey. When you find yourself getting bored with the same old routine. When your results plateau. When you need to adapt your workout for a life change. When you aren’t quite as motivated or accountable as you once were. A personal trainer will help light the fire, adjust your workout and give you tools to succeed.

Whether you are contemplating getting fit or starting to workout, a little preparation, a whole lot of work and expert support will help you make your vision of a happier, healthier you a reality.