For many people, the thought of working out triggers anxiety, stress or just plain confusion. I was one of those people. However, when I found myself on my own fitness journey I realized that incorporating it into my life regularly was imperative; not an easy task for someone who, last year, couldn’t tell you the difference between burpees and bench pressing. I had ZERO background in fitness, athletics or any of the like, but through trial and error, I've found four basic practices that have helped me get into a routine without being completely daunting.
1. Assess Your Goals
In order to really make “progress” you have to know what you’re aiming for! Are you looking to lose fat? Gain muscle? Maintain, but tone your current body? Having a measure for the outcome that you want is going to completely shape what your fitness routine includes, so be sure of the results that you want to see before diving into your search.
2. Do Your Research
I am an obsessive researcher.
If I’m trying to a new restaurant, I want to see the menu and read 10 Yelp reviews before I arrive. I need pre-tails before doing almost everything and the case is the same with fitness. When I began working out more frequently, I met with a trainer, explained my goals and we mapped out a plan based on that. I didn’t stop there though – I also watched YouTube videos about workouts targeting specific body parts, followed fitness influencers who regularly posted new things that I wanted to try and so much more. I made researching the fitness activities that I wanted to do just as much of a priority as actually doing them. The bottom line is that every body is different and to reach whatever the hot version of yours is, it’s going to take some research on the “how” to get there.
3. Explore unconventional forms of exercise
When you envision working out as endless hours on the treadmill it’s enough to scare anyone off – trust me, the idea of that is just as triggering to myself. After all, monotony is the enemy of success when it comes to committing to fitness long term. For that reason I’ve been following an, “I’ll try anything once” mentality. I’ve tried pretty much every type of class – from aerial yoga to Zumba to water barre – as a way of breaking out of the “fitness funk” that you fall into while trying to perfect a routine. Every new experience hasn’t been perfect, but they've all burned calories, challenged me to leave my comfort zone and, most importantly, allowed me to understand what I do like – which brings me to my final rule of thumb:
4. Find something that you actually enjoy
A wise man once said, "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" -- hard to keep this in mind when you're stumbling out the gym with noodles for legs, but I truly believe that the sentiment applies for fitness as well.
Throughout all of my experiences, SoulCycle is the one thing that has become my heart and (for lack of a less cliché word) soul. Upon entering that dark room with blaring music I instantly feel at home. It’s intense, high energy and, at times, seemingly impossible to finish. However, every time I wrap up another 45 minute session – looking a sweaty and breathless mess – I feel incredibly empowered and find myself counting down the days until my next ride. That feeling is what you should always strive for no matter what it is you enjoy in fitness. Make sure that your routine always keeps you inspired, challenged and motivated to come back for more.