I used to be the queen of New Year’s resolutions – I think my fave was “I’m going to go to the gym every single day” and I’m cutting sugar. I’ll let you guess how quickly they got broken… with my New Years resolutions firmly in the bin post-Jan it gave way to feeling crappy for caving again followed by a share bag of M&Ms and a glass of wine, ah well there’s always next year right? So how do you get started with fitness?
It was actually when I was working at the London Sport offices, that the penny dropped. “Being fit” doesn’t necessarily mean having rippling abs and an ass you can rest your dinner on. It’s keeping active and setting yourself goals, it’s being consistent, it’s finding something you enjoy and not beating yourself up when you have a minor setback.
Here are some of the things that have helped me motivate myself and have turned me from an all-or-nothing gym go-er to someone that actually enjoys exercise.
Have an aim or goal to work towards
And I’m not talking a weight based goal. I haven’t weighed myself in about a year and a half, I don’t own a pair of scales and have no interest in how light or heavy I am. I found focusing on a number (which can be affected by so many factors, time of day, water intake, time of the month etc) drove me a little crazy, particularly when seeing an increase after months of training weights it was hard to shake that niggle of seeing my weight increasing- I didn’t find it helpful. So I binned the scales.
Last Jan I booked a Spartan race which is the first endurance event I’ve ever taken part in. It gave me 4 months to train hard for and gave me something tangible to work towards and I followed a plan all the way up to my race in April.
Make a plan to reach your goal
When training for my Spartan I followed the couch to 5K plan which gave me something to follow. I didn’t need a gym to do any of the exercises (even though I find training in the gym much better than at home due to the lure of the sofa and fridge full of cheese). I used the gym at lunchtimes and snuck into the studio for some of my workout, google “Bear crawl” and you’ll see why. But after a few weeks, I was Bear crawling and crab walking all over the gym with absolutely no shame, everyone is there for the same reason after all.
From here I enlisted the advice from friends in new exercises I could try, I followed some fitness bloggers and I googled. I increased my cardio and did a little research on each muscle group and I won’t even pretend I knew how to do all the exercises – my camera roll consisted (and still consists of) YouTube screenshots and my own renamed names for exercises to help me jog my mind on how to do them.
Make fitness part of your routine
Just because you’re getting into fitness it doesn’t mean your social life has to take a nosedive.
If you are often out Friday and Saturday evenings why not plan to get your workouts in Monday-Thurs? Giving yourself a plan will help you to focus and make you more likely to stick to it. From there you can pick what exercises/class you do on what day. Therefore saving you from cancelling plans and saving you getting to the gym and wasting time wandering around half-heartedly picking up the odd weight and wondering how soon you can go home – we’ve all been there.
No “one size fits all” approach
Stop looking at the explore page on Insta and comparing yourself to people you don’t know. It won’t help you with your goals. If the gym isn’t your thing why not go for a morning swim, or try boxing or yoga – something I tried recently and really enjoyed, much to my surprise.
When I discovered boxing I wasn’t looking for a hobby, isn’t that always the way. But I soon discovered that it solved my cardio problem (I hate cardio) it offered just the amount of high intensity, a bit of a technical lesson as well as the feeling that I’d worked my ass off. But I never would have known if I hadn’t tried it out. But like finding your fit, you just have to try out a few things to see what works for you.
Getting fit doesn’t have to cost the earth
Fitness really doesn’t need to cost a lot. I absolutely refuse to spend £80 on a gym membership, when you can find a perfectly reasonable gym for £30.
I don’t care how trendy your neon signs or your protein shake parties are, frankly I’d rather spend the remaining money on shoes or a silly outfit for my dog.
Take into account the location of the gym or class, how easy it is to get there? Is it on your way home, or can you go on your lunch break? As these are all factors that will affect you actually going. I used to be a member of a gym that involved me getting a different train home from work, walking for 20 mins and getting a bus home from the gym. Oh, you can just imagine how much I went!
Making a change
Fitness is a journey, you don’t need to be exercising 7 times a week, stressing out and feeling bad if you miss a session. Try and not put too much pressure on yourself at the beginning, ease yourself in and be kind to yourself (and I don’t mean by rewarding yourself with a Tikka Masala after each workout).
Once you’ve been exercising for a few weeks it really does start to get easier and it makes it all worth it when you can see your body changing. And you never know, you might even actually enjoy it! But you have to want to go, if you’ve made a decision that you want to make a change and get fitter, then you’re halfway there, all you need to do now is make that happen…