It's the new year, and everyone's on a mission! But the thought of starting a new fitness regime can be just as daunting and confusing as it is starting any new project. Whether you have just had kids, are recovering from injury or are completely new to the exercise game – questions like what to do, where to start, or who to call are common to all. Add that to the endless fitness options available these days, and it can be really overwhelming thinking about where to start. To help you get over these roadblocks, we have a couple of quick little exercises to help you on your way:
1. Know your goal
Having a goal in mind is the best motivation not just to start something, but to keep at it as well. The most important thing to start with is having an idea of what you want to achieve. When it comes to setting yourself a goal, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.
Yes – SMART.
Rather than just telling yourself you just want to run, set a specific, measurable goal such as running 10km under 1:30 within 3 months worth of training. Or it could be fitting into a specific pair of jeans in 6 months. It could also relate to your daily life, such as the ability to walk up the flight of stairs to the apartment and not feel out of breath in a month’s time. Given these examples, ask yourself what it is you would like to achieve, how you would like to measure these outcomes and what would be a realistic timeframe for you. Write all this down on the top of a sheet of paper.
2. Picking your activity
Just as having a goal is important to keeping motivated, participating in an activity you enjoy will also help you stay on track. Running or weight training might be the go-to solution for someone else; however, if the idea of those activities fills you with dread, then that is obviously not the best way for you to start. Without the right motivations, being forced into an activity you don’t enjoy will make you more inclined to find excuses to quit.
If you enjoy being around people or thrive on friendly competition, then write down a list of group classes or sports teams you might be interested in joining. If you get better focus being on your own, then look at fitness apps to download, gyms or clubs you can sign up at or trainers you can work with one on one. If you enjoy music and movement, then getting involved in group fitness or dance classes would most likely be your idea of fun!
3. Relevance to your goal
Now that you have a list of activities you enjoy or might like to try, think about their relevance to your goal. If you have post-natal diastasis recti and are looking to fix that, then Spinning or Zumba classes, whilst great at improving your fitness, will not help you to achieve that. Similarly, if your goal is to improve your fitness and eventually participate in a race, then low impact classes such as Pilates or Yoga should be complementary activities rather than the main activities you select. Refer to the goal you have written at the top of your page, then shortlist your activities by circling the items on your list with the most relevance.
Location and timing are important factors that will set you up for success. Think about your current schedule and when you can realistically fit in sessions on a regular basis. Would it work better for you to find something closer to home, closer to work or if you have children, closer to school?
Knowing this will allow you to work out a smooth transition between getting to your workouts, work, home or drop offs. If you have younger children, things to consider include feeding, naps, childcare and whether the facility or activity would allow you to have your child with you. Again, ruling out the inconveniences will reduce the obstacles that would make you more inclined to fall off the bandwagon.
5. Book it in
Now that you have a shortlist of activities and an idea of times and locations that would work for you, start your research by going online or asking friends and family for referrals for classes, studios, trainers or groups they have tried and tested. Find a range of options and schedule them into your diary. Make your health and wellness a priority by scheduling other commitments around these workouts that you have scheduled in.
Give yourself a couple of weeks to try out various options before deciding on the one that works best for you in terms of location, timing, rapport with the group/trainer and of course the one you most enjoy. Start with one session a week as the bare minimum or aim to fit in 2-3 workouts each week to get good consistency.
Once you get into a good routine and start feeling changes in your energy levels, look to progress by increasing exercise frequency or intensity of each workout. Before you know it, regular exercise will be seamlessly incorporated into your new healthy lifestyle for 2017!