I believe the two most difficult parts of going to the gym are tying up my gym shoes and getting out of the car. But once I’m there, I’m ready to move! That same mentality typically holds true for starting a new fitness regime after months (maybe even years) of being a couch potato.
Maybe you started working out for a wedding last fall, then gave up after the holidays. Maybe the pile of manila folders on your desk has finally disappeared. Whatever the reason…it happens! We want to help you get back into the game and stick with it. And you can with these simple tips.
1. Don’t Expect To Jump In Where You Left Off
An exercise hiatus will no doubt leave you feeling slower and weaker. For strength training, try using about 75 percent of the resistance you were at before taking a break. You’ll be back to your normal resistance in no time, and will hopefully avoid new injuries.
2. Make Fitness A Habit
For people who stay in shape all year long, working out is as habitual as brushing your teeth. Exercising just once a week won’t lead to the mental and physical changes you want in your life. We know it’s hard to wake up extra early, or go to the gym straight from work. But really think about how you’re using your time, and figure out how squeeze in workouts three to four times per week. No excuses!
3. Get Off The Treadmill (At Least Sometimes)
The treadmill is the old go-to. Not a surprise considering it’s a piece of equipment everyone is bound to recognize. Beginners will often stay on the treadmill for the same amount of time, and at the same intensity, every day. That has to get boring! Make sure to mix up your cardio routine by trying the elliptical or the rowing machine, or by taking a jog outside.
4. Know How To Do A Proper Warm-Up
It’s common practice to start your workout with a stretch, but that actually puts you at greater risk of injury. Instead, warm up for about five minutes (try a light jog, jumping jacks or the bike), then hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
5. One Weekly Gym Selfie
That’s right. Just one! A pre-workout selfie can help you monitor your progress because they show results you can actually see. These photos are for your eyes only (there’s no need to post them to Facebook and Instagram). They also pinpoint the part of your body you want to improve, and the parts of your body that you love!
6. Overcome Your Fear Of Intimidation
Walking into the gym for the first time in months can feel like an “all eyes on me” situation. To help break your fear, try taking a group class where you’ll surely find people at the same fitness level. And try going to the gym off-hours to build up your confidence with fewer people around. Lastly, don’t wear restrictive clothing that makes you feel self-conscious. Just be comfortable.
7. Sample Different Workouts
For the best results, try to incorporate three types of exercise: cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning and flexibility training. Switch up the muscle groups you work on. Before you know it you’ll have a laundry list of exercises you’re comfortable with.
8. Work Out At Home!
Fear of the gym? Can’t afford a membership? You don’t need the gym for exercise. Instead, designate an area of your home to fitness. You only need a few items. Try some dumbbells, a yoga mat and a fitness ball to get started. You can find so many quick workouts online for free. Click here for some examples.
9. Don’t Tear Yourself Down
This is the most important rule to remember when getting back into your groove. Know thousands of others out there are struggling just like you. Even fitness experts say beginners are too hard on themselves. Stay motivated by setting just one goal at a time, encourage others to exercise with you and make fitness fun.