If you were asked who was your favourite athlete, fitness influencer, or even any successful person you admire outside of the fitness world – who would be the first person that came to mind? Think about what it is that you like about that person. Do you find them inspirational? Are you just impressed with their aesthetic or talent? Or is it their drive and ambition that you admire?
Now ask yourself how you think that person got to where they are today? “Oh, they just have good genetics.” “They were born with that talent.” “I could NEVER do what they do.” etcetera, etcetera.
The truth is, any one of these people that came to mind all have one thing in common – They all took it upon themselves to START. Regardless of what their circumstances were, to begin with, no matter what others were telling them to do or not do, each one of them made that final internal decision to START on their journey.
Now, deciding to embark on any kind of lifestyle change is not something that happens overnight. It requires a lot of personal reflection and trying your best to remain conscious of why you are doing and what you are doing – especially when things get hard.
Starting a fitness journey in particular likely has you feeling many different ways. Some people are excited to start and jump right in, others (and I’d say a good majority of people that are total beginners) flip flop back and forth between feeling excited, determined, terrified, contemplative, terrified again and then decide that the emotional roller coaster is enough to just not even bother starting. Trust me, I was part of that majority for a long, long time. I was on that roller coaster for YEARS before I finally decided to take ownership of my life and what I wanted from it.
So speaking from experience, here are a few things to think about when it comes to starting on your fitness journey – whether you are a total beginner or getting back to it after some time off. Starting on something that will eventually become a part of your entire lifestyle is not an easy task. And we all sometimes need that one little push to reaffirm why we want to start that positive change.
First thing’s first, you must still be reading this far because you or someone you care about are thinking about adding some sort of physical activity into your lifestyle. The most important thing to ask yourself is, WHY? Why do you want to start exercising or being more active? Of course, any kind of activity is going to be a positive addition to your life that will help you physically look and feel better – but go deeper than that. Do you want to lose weight so you can keep up with your child at the park for the coming years? Do you want to get stronger so you can improve your performance in a specific sport? Do you want to make sure you have a healthy heart because you know heart disease runs in your family? Or do you want to simply feel genuinely happy and confident in your day-to-day life? Whatever your reason, remind yourself that is WHY you want to start. And once you start, keep reminding yourself of that why.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
The term “fitness” really does encompass a whole world of options. “Do I try group training or personal training?” “Tabata, Calisthenics, Boxing, Muy Thai, Powerlifting, AquaFit, Crossfit…. Oh my God, where do I start?!” So many options in fact, that it can actually seem a little overwhelming at first. But instead, try to keep an open mind – There are SO many options out there that it has to be statistically impossible that you cannot find something you enjoy. Keeping an open mind in this case also means that you have to be willing to actually go try more than one of those options until you do find the right fit. But when trial-running different locations or styles of fitness just remember that there is always going to be a learning curve. So while there may be something you try that very obviously is not for you (i.e., Zumba classes may not be everyone’s cup of tea) don’t give up on trying something new just because you don’t quite nail it in the very first class or session.
Do you know what THE most common excuse I hear is, for not coming to try a class or a workout? (and I am 1000% guilty of having used it in the past too)…
“Oh yes, I’ll come to try it eventually. I just want to get in shape first, you know? Lose some weight before I start.”
Now read that statement again. One more time but even slower. What do you notice about that statement that does not make much sense? Getting “in shape first” involves having to start! I know I can speak for myself that verbalizing those words came from a place of complete fear. A fear that if I started and if for some reason I failed, it would be the end of the world. But I also didn’t want to portray that I was scared so I felt that saying, “I’ll come eventually” didn’t make me seem like a lazy person who was never going to make a change. The bottom line is that saying those words was an EXCUSE. Excuses can come in various forms: no money, no time, too intimidated. Whatever it is, really repeat that statement to yourself and analyze where that fear is coming from. Do not let yourself dwell on the ways in which you could fail, but stay focused on how you will GROW and improve.
Whatever route you decide to try for your fitness journey, remember to ask questions! If you’re stepping into a corporate style gym with equipment that resembles torture machines, do not be afraid to ask someone for some guidance on how to use them. If you have a previous injury or a health concern, reach out to someone to see if they have any wisdom or suggestions. Whatever your question, make sure you are seeking guidance from a professional or someone who has experience. With that said, also do some of your own research when it comes to choosing how you want to start. If you are looking for a particular type of experience to start your journey, do not let anyone make you compromise on what you are looking for. If you are at a total loss of where to start, network! Ask friends! And friends of those friends. And family! – people who you know have made a start on their own journey. Ten times out of ten, those people will be more than willing to share some stories.
Remember how I mentioned that our excuses come from a place of fear? Fear of maybe starting and then failing? Well, the reality is that you will fail. I failed many, many, many, many times on my journey. However, one failure is not the end. As cliche as it may sound, failure is merely a stepping stone to learn from and something to get you closer to your goals. Whether you think you are failing because of an injury, an illness or whatever crazy curveball life throws your way, you are still further ahead than the first time you started. How? Because now you know what it feels like to start. Now you know how to ask yourself the right questions and reflect on what changes you really want to make. Now you can take that experience and recalculate what worked for you and what didn’t. It can only be considered a true failure if when it happens you don’t get right back up and start again.
Moral of the story?
You could read this post three times in a row, watch a hundred motivational videos, read a million inspirational quotes, but at the end of the day, it is YOUR choice to start. Do not let your fears of failure get the best of you. Keep an open mind, ask questions and leave your excuses at the door. And just START. Your body and your mind will be nothing but thankful for it.