Everyone wants to get in shape. To run fast, to jump high, to lift heavy, to look good. But starting a fitness plan when you’ve got little or no training experience can be very scary indeed.
Where do you start? Which exercises are the best? Should you do cardio and weights? What about stretching? What if you’ve got an injury that you need to work around? So many questions and the internet just adds to the confusion.
So today we’re going right back to basics.
How to start a fitness plan. I’ll assume you don’t have a great deal of knowledge or confidence and give you the first few steps you need to take on the path to fitness. Here goes:
Get Clear On The Outcome
What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to prep for a marathon? Do you want to enhance your mobility? Do you want to learn yoga? Dial in and be as specific as you can about what you want to accomplish and the time frame you want to accomplish it.
A clear outcome will help you devise the best possible plan of attack. It will also help you avoid conflicting goals and complicated training plans.
I want to __________ by __________.
Decide on what’s most important to you right now then keep it as simple and as focussed as possible.
Find A Coach
A great fitness coach or personal trainer can literally change your life. Especially one with experience in the particular goal you’re shooting for. They’ll give you all the essentials – a thorough assessment, a tailored programme, the proper technique, moral support – but most of all, they’ll inspire you to take action.
Even if you can only afford one session, that one session is well worth it. It will give you the energy and information you need to move forwards.
Find A Reason
Some people are great at inspiring themselves. They get up every day and go at it. They surround themselves with the right people and the right influences, so no matter how bad they feel they still get it done.
Your coach will be a huge help in this regard but it’s you who needs to become the driving force. Find a reason, or better yet a few reasons, why you want to achieve your goal. Why you must achieve your goal. Then immerse yourself in an environment that supports that goal.
These days I stay in shape mainly for my son. I want to teach him how to run, jump, throw and kick a football the way my dad taught me. I want to see him grow up and I want to be able to hang with him in the gym or on a hill climb for a few years yet.
It’s one of the best motivations I’ve ever had.
Take The First Step
You can talk and research and plan all you want but if you don’t take action, nothing will ever change. Make it easy for yourself to begin, then begin. A little bit of activity every day. Walk at first and when you feel confident you can run. Work the plan your coach has given you and if you drop the ball you can laugh it off and pick it right back up again.
Hack Away The Obstacles And Excuses
There are plenty of obstacles to getting in shape, most of our own creation, so it’s good to know what they are in advance and be prepared to defeat them. They often sound like this:
I don’t have enough time.
The gym is closed today.
The gym is too expensive.
My knee is sore.
My back is sore.
I forgot to eat lunch today.
I can’t afford supplements.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I’ve got to take my wife/girlfriend/mother shopping.
I can’t be bothered.
I deserve a break.
I need a holiday.
I don’t have the right genetics for this.
There’s a daily battle between our desire to be a hero and our desire to watch Netflix with a cheese toastie so knowing how and when the inner demons attack gives us a slight advantage.
Develop The Exercise Habit
Far more important than your short term goal is to develop the exercise habit. To make movement a part of your everyday life, for the rest of your life.
Anyone who maintains a good level of fitness has formed that habit and exercises without excuses. They don’t need to get back in shape because they never let themselves get out of shape.
Image: Fabio Vilalba