• Erin

A Beginner's Guide To Fitness: 10 Things I Wish I Knew

Updated: Feb 26

Deciding to ‘get in shape’ is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Why? It’s an investment in your health and taking charge of your life.

The problem is, there are so many ways of exercising to choose from and a mountain of contradictory information to sift through. So, how do you know what’s right for you?

In short, you don’t know until you try it, but don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t mean you have to try every single thing, and here’s why…

Getting Started

Usually, you’ll have a gut feeling for what type of exercise you might enjoy most or will know what’s the most accessible form of exercise for you right now. These are great places to start.

For example, do you live near a gym or park to try weight training or running? Does a friend attend a weekly fitness class that you could try? Did you enjoy team sports at school? Or perhaps you know you feel more comfortable working out at home?

These types of queues are great to help you find a starting point. From there, you need to cement your reason for getting in shape.

Defining Your Why

The buzz from starting a new exercise regime is great, but it can be hard to maintain momentum or enthusiasm as the weeks go on. Get ahead of any future excuses by defining your ‘why’. In other words, understand the reason why you’re exercising.

Most people want to ‘lose weight and tone up’ (AKA ‘lose fat and build muscle’), but that’s not your ‘why’.

Your ‘why’ might be: to feel more confident, to get back to the ‘old you’, or to improve your quality of life. Many people live with shortness of breath and everyday aches and pains that can be significantly helped by improving their health. In this case, your ‘why’ could be to improve daily activities such as climbing the stairs or being able to enjoy playing with your children.

Whatever your ‘why’, it’s a good idea to write it down for motivation on tough days and to remind yourself just how far you’ve come. Once you’ve got your why, it’s time to set yourself up for success.

Hitting the Ground Running

  • Do you need to buy equipment such as shoes, bands or a mat?

  • Do you need to book in advance for a number of sessions?

  • Have you figured out when you’ll fit it into your diary and how you’ll get there?

Figuring out these types of questions before you start is a great way to ensure success. Afterall, sustaining an injury from poor-fitting footwear is likely to put you off running all together. Likewise, having to hang around in town for an hour or two after work with nowhere to go before your class is sure to quickly lose its appeal.

Set aside time in your diary so you’re giving yourself the best chance to thrive and not just survive your first session.

Enjoy! (…or Don’t – That’s Fine Too)

Just like in life, there will be good and bad training days. Try not to write something off right away if you can see areas to adapt and give it a second, third or even fourth chance. After a few sessions, you’ll truly know if it’s for you or not. And if it’s not, that’s ok!

Think about what elements you do like. Perhaps you enjoy group workouts or having the accountability of a coach. If so, could you swap your HIIT gym class for a yoga class or trade training with a friend for hiring a personal trainer? This process of elimination should help you to find your preferred way of training quickly and relatively pain free.

Keeping Motivated

Once you reach your initial goal of losing weight or feeling fitter, it’s important to set yourself new goals to stay motivated. Some people prefer to have strength or stamina goals, but for others it’s as simple as reminding yourself how far you’ve come and how you’ve transformed your life since adopting these healthier habits.

This is where joining an online fitness community or sharing progress with friends and family can be great, as they’ll naturally cheer you on and ask you questions. You never know, you could inspire someone else’s journey to a happier and healthier self.

10 Things I Wish I’d Have Known Before Starting My Fitness Journey

Like everyone, I was once a beginner.

Although I was awarded my Black Belt in Taekwondo when I was 12, and enjoyed being part of school athletics and sports teams, after a few years away from fitness in my mid-to-late teens (when my metabolism also changed and I gained three dress sizes), I found myself at the beginning of my fitness journey, unsure of where to start or what I needed to do.

I tried running, swimming, zumba, boxercise and body balance before finding, and settling on, yoga and weight-lifting. Although I run on the weekends around my local park, I do it mainly for its mental health benefits of being in nature, alone with my thoughts and breathing in the fresh air.

Now you know a little bit of my back story, hear the 10 things I wish I’d have known before starting my fitness journey in my video below.

Where are you on your fitness journey? Can you relate to any of the above? Leave me a comment below and let’s show others that it’s not that scary.

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