Even though we all know the benefits of working out—increased strength, better flexibility, improved health—we also know how hard it can be to prioritize exercise as a beginner. It doesn’t help that everyone else makes getting those six pack abs look so easy, right? But, a beginner workout doesn’t have to be intimidating to have an impact.
We’ve got advice that’ll help you stay motivated as you get started on your fitness journey and tackle beginner workouts. Read on for four quick mantras designed to help you along the ups and downs of staying committed to a healthy lifestyle.
There’s no perfect time to begin
Many of us fall prey to the “tomorrow” mentality: as in, tomorrow will be a better day to get off the couch and head to the gym. We wait for the perfect weather to run outside, the right mood for a quick yoga session, the best morning for a balanced breakfast. Except tomorrow often carries over to the next day, and the next, and the next, making it impossible for you to focus on what really matters—getting started today.
“Running my first marathon, having never run long distance in my life, I didn’t know how to start training or if I would even be able to do it,” said Aaptiv trainer Jennifer Giamo. “But after that, I was hooked. I enjoyed the solace that running provided. It helped to relieve stress and that made me feel good. I would listen to my music and escape for awhile which was always fun. The sense of accomplishment, the discipline I learned, was unlike anything else.”
Learn from every setback
If there’s one certainty about exercise and fitness, it is the reality that you will absolutely experience times of great strength and endurance, and times of challenge and reduced capabilities.
“When I hurt my back due to a bulging disc, I was in pain and had to put my long-distance running on hold for awhile,” said Giamo. “And during my divorce, I felt emotional strain which left me so exhausted I could barely get out of bed. So, I started to incorporate yoga and other cross-training exercises to fill the void.”
Aaptiv trainer Jessica Muenster echoes that approach. “In college, I was running and sprained my ankle really badly to the point of having crutches. I was on crutches for about two months and in that time, I lost a lot of my endurance and running skills. I felt like a beginner when I got started back slowly because I had to take it easy.”
Whether it is injury, a personal life change, or a shift in diet, view every setback as an opportunity to reframe and reset over time. So maybe you do get started with working out, only to have something get in your way a week later. Annoying? Yes. A reason to quit? No.
And, you never know where that pause or adjustment in focus may lead you. “When I got injured, I decided that I had to control what I could. Instead of crying about not being able to run, I had to find something I could do, so I started riding on the spin bike indoors,” said Muenster. “It was a blessing. I ended up loving spin so much that I became a spin instructor. I did that for two years, which was what led me into being a fitness instructor full-time.”
Motivation is a daily practice—and a choice
People often want the secret to staying fit and making exercise a regular part of your routine. Well, here it is folks: the secret to staying motivated for working out is . . . . practicing motivation. That’s right. Just like any other skill or sport, you have to build up muscle over time, which takes ongoing diligence and a positive attitude.
“I still have days where I struggle to find motivation,” said Giamo. “Sometimes, I just run out of energy but I find that if I push myself to do something active, I usually feel much better.”
Fitness is also a choice; if exercise is important to you, then you have to make space for it, and you have to want to make it a part of your daily life.
“Just remember when you get started, everything is challenging, and it should be, but it should leave you happy and wanting to go back after the initial exhaustion is over. There are a lot of things that start hard, and they’ll still be challenging, but you’ll learn to love it once you find the right fit,” said Muenster.
Do what you love
The biggest mistake most beginners make? Assuming fitness is one-size-fits-all. You really don’t have to pick one form of exercise and stay with it forever; you can change, evolve, and adapt based on what’s best for your mind, body, and spirit.
“In addition to enjoying physical activity,” said Giamo. “Find a way to make it social with a friend or co-worker who has similar interests as you do. Exercising with another person can be the encouragement you need to stick with a fitness goal.”
Let’s say you started with running as an easy, cheap, accessible mode of fitness. Then, months later that you realize you downright dread every.single.run. Consider trying something else, such as a yoga class or swimming or strength training. Especially with Aaptiv workouts, you’ve literally got thousands of affordable workout options at your fingertips.
“I like to ask myself three questions about working out,” said Muenster. “Does it challenge me? Motivate me? Does it leave me better than I was? The answers to all three should be yes. A challenge without motivation gets tiring. Motivation without a challenge gets boring. And you can’t be better without both.”
“Full-Body Strength For Beginners” beginner strength workout by Candice Cunningham
“Cowboy, Take Me Away” beginner treadmill workout by Kelly Chase
“Sweat It Off” beginner elliptical workout by Jessica Muenster