Are you just starting your fitness journey? Or are you restarting after “falling off the wagon” and getting back on track?
Either way, the health journey can feel overwhelming and stressful. But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as diet plans and online gurus make it seem. The truth is anyone can find a fitness practice they enjoy if they have:
- The right tools
- An understanding of their core needs
- A growth (rather than fixed) mindset
We’ll show you what we mean below. Here’s your guide on how to start your fitness journey, whether you’re beginning from scratch or you’ve been down this road many times.
How to Start Your Fitness Journey — and Do It Successfully
First, let’s cover some important reminders:
Number one: Fitness for most people is not the airbrushed model on the sports magazine cover, the gym rat who lives at the local gym, or the person with washboard abs who seemingly has it all together.
Realistic fitness journeys are about balance, flexibility, and working with your lifestyle and needs.
And, number two: If you’re tried and failed to get healthy and fit, it doesn’t mean you can’t. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or lack some crazy willpower everyone else possesses.
It just means what you were doing before wasn’t working for you. This time, you’ll get another step closer to what does work for you.
Here are some pointers on getting started (or starting again).
Don't Wait for the Perfect Time: Start Now!
It’s easy to put off starting a new fitness routine until you feel “ready,” but here’s a fact: You’ll never feel 100% ready.
Life keeps happening. Work stress continues. Family commitments aren’t going anywhere.
The best you can do is start now and develop a routine that fits within your current situation.
That includes not going to extremes and acknowledging that you won’t do everything perfectly (and that’s okay) when starting a fitness journey.
You can start right now to make healthier choices!
If You’re Restarting a Fitness Journey, Identify What Didn’t Work Last Time
If this isn’t your first (fitness) rodeo, you’re not alone. Many of us have to try at least a few times to figure out a routine that works for us.
However, you’ll struggle to stay consistent unless you know what derailed you last time.
What kept you from keeping up your workouts before? Be as honest with yourself as you can.
Maybe you were trying to work out for too long or too many days a week. Perhaps you went through a stressful life event that directed your attention elsewhere. Or maybe you just got bored with or confused about what you were doing and couldn’t stand to keep it up.
You might not have known the “why” that motivated you to keep going.
Identify what got in your way. Write down all of the reasons.
Then, identify what you need to do differently this time, such as shorter workouts or more realistic standards for yourself.
Start Small and Work Up
Simple steps are best when you’re making a change — especially one that is (ideally) for a lifetime. So, start small!
You might feel tempted to jump into extremes like:
- Working out two times a day
- Cutting out all carbs
- Shunning all of the things you love
But that’s not realistic, and it will just cause you to crash and burn, stop working out entirely, and end up right back at square one.
Plus, pushing yourself too hard increases the risk of injury, according to Medline Plus. It’s best to start slowly, build up your knowledge of different movements, and get used to adding fitness into your routine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least this much exercise per week:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
- Two days of muscle-strengthening activities
This is a good goal when you’re first starting — but you can give yourself time to work up to it.
Thirty minutes of exercise five days a week is a good place to start for some. If that is too overwhelming, start with 25, 20, or even 15 minutes per day. Break the time up over different days or different periods in one day. Work up from there.
You can focus on whatever gets your body moving. If you’re entirely new to exercise, use this as an opportunity to explore what you like most. Try out different forms of movement, and don’t be afraid to start small.
Think of fitness as a dial rather than an on and off switch. You’re never just doing “good” or “bad” — you’re sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. If you’re staying above zero, you’re progressing a little at a time.
Keep the Big Picture in Mind (Progress, Not Perfection)
When you’re in the thick of getting healthier, it’s easy to view each day as representing your overall progress.
But you have 365 days in an entire year. And one year is just a fraction of your whole life.
So, “zoom out.”
Look at the big picture of your health journey — not just today, tomorrow, or this week.
Did you have a crappy day of eating? That’s just one day out of the year. It’s one blip on a huge calendar. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on making the next meal nutritious. And the next one.
Did you skip your workouts for an entire week because work was crazy? Don’t start thinking this means you’re a failure and “what’s the point anyway.” Make a plan for when you’re fit in a workout tomorrow.
Keep moving forward, and don’t forget the big picture. It’s about consistency over time that leads to lasting workout results.
And don’t commit the cardinal sin of trying to be perfect — that’s a surefire path to frustration. Again, focus on how you can make consistent choices over time that move the needle ahead.
It all begins with one workout, one meal. You don’t have to overthink it to get started and build momentum.
Make Exercise a Regular Part of Your Schedule
Routines and habits are crucial for good health. So, get used to viewing fitness as a regular part of your daily life. That means adding it to your calendar like anything else you prioritize in your day.
Some people prefer to exercise in the morning before work. Others like working out after their workday. And some will fit in a workout during lunch or break up the time, such as a quick morning walk and a trip to the gym after work.
When exercise becomes a given in your schedule, you’ll start to incorporate it without overthinking it, talking yourself out of it, or doing other things instead.
Expect (and Account for) Setbacks
Regarding a new fitness journey, one thing’s for sure: you will have setbacks.
Let’s just get that out of the way now. And we’ll tell you that it’s perfectly okay.
Work, family, and everything in between will guarantee days you can’t exercise or aren’t as healthy as you’d like to be.
Life happens. We all know life happens, and knowing that will give you the flexible mindset to keep moving forward instead of giving up.
Namely, the critical point is to not quit. Even if you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon or fallen way behind on the fitness plan.
Dust yourself off, start with the next workout, the next healthy meal, and embrace the sometimes-chaos life brings!
Have a plan for when you will have a more challenging time working out and eating well.
For example, you might say that:
When you get thrown off your schedule, it can feel like one little mistake or missed workout is a sign you can’t do this.
Don’t listen to that narrative — it’s not true.
A little exercise is better than no exercise. Some fruits and veggies are better than none.
You’ll get used to doing the best you can, getting back on the wagon, and creating improvement over time — even if it doesn’t immediately appear that way at the moment.
Keep Your Healthy Habits Realistic
When many people think about how to start a fitness journey, they jump straight into extremes like:
- Exercising seven days a week for at least an hour
- Cutting out all sugar or gluten (or both)
- Eating very few calories
But these are not realistic habits for most people. And what happens then? They stop exercising or focusing on eating healthy at all. Plus, many extreme health habits are in fact bad for health, such as eating too few calories.
If you plan to work out for an hour a day, but life happens and you can’t keep it up anymore, it’s time to step back and re-assess. What is truly realistic for you to do every day? Fifteen minutes? Twenty? Thirty? It doesn’t have to be as long as you’d think to see results.
What we’re trying to say is there: consistency matters most.
Remember the Benefits of Exercise
Exercise has so many incredible benefits for your body and mind.
When trying to convince yourself to fit in a morning workout or go to the gym after work, remind yourself what you’ll get out of this time investment.
The benefits of exercise, according to the CDC, include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity
- Improving your mental health — reducing stress and the risk of depression
- Keeping your thinking and judgment skills strong
- Strengthening muscles and bones, which decrease with age
- Reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers, and falling
- Enhancing your sleep quality
- Boosting your sexual health
- Improving your chances of living a longer, healthier life
Exercise is one of the best choices you can make for your physical and mental health. And when it becomes a habit, and you find what you like, you’ll feel better overall when you stay active.
Don't Do Things You Hate
Some of us have incorrectly learned that all exercise sucks, it hurts, and it’s a necessary evil.
But that’s not true! (We’re breaking all sorts of myths here today.)
You do not have to engage in exercise you hate.
If you hate running, you don’t have to do it. There are tons of alternative ways to get your heart rate up and get fit.
If you hate going to the gym or lifting weights, try resistance bands and at-home workouts. Tools like the original Gorilla Bow and Gorilla Bow Travel make it easy to fit in a workout wherever you are based on the type of workouts you enjoy (or can learn to enjoy).
While you will likely still have days you don’t feel like working out, it’ll be easier to gently push yourself to start when you appreciate the exercise type and understand how it will make you feel better.
Make It Fun
Working out doesn’t have to feel tedious. It doesn’t even have to involve a traditional gym or standard equipment. Mix it up by getting active in different ways, such as:
- Doing cardio while watching a TV show
- Listening to exhilarating music during strength or resistance training
- Walking or running in a beautiful park
- Biking to work
- Playing tennis with friends
- Joining a yoga, dance, or kickboxing class
There are also tons of online workouts on YouTube and programs tailored to different fitness types.
Other Questions About How to Start a Fitness Journey
Let’s answer a few more frequently asked questions about getting started with fitness.
When Should I Start My Fitness Journey?
There’s no “best” time to start working out. Start today — don’t overthink it!
How Do I Start My Fitness Journey as a Beginner?
Start small. For example, you might do something active two to three days per week. Start with anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes each time.
Give your body time to adjust to the habit. If a routine is overwhelming enough that you can’t keep it up, scale down to something more realistic. Remember: consistency is most important.
If you’re still not sure where to start, consider joining an online program that better guides you through specific workouts.
How Can I Start My Fitness Journey with Gorilla Bow?
When you purchase a Gorilla Bow, you get 30 days of Gorilla Bow All-Access, which gives you admission to all types of workouts for various fitness goals. You can also try it free for seven days here!
You’ll get access to unlimited live and on-demand beginner, strength, Tabata, HIIT, flow, and functional classes, health and nutrition advice, expert fitness instructors, and exclusive member-only offers. You’ll also learn beginner basics for the Gorilla Bow and how to use it anywhere and at any time.