Putting the Wheels in Motion: How to Kickstart Your Fitness Journey

Mike Squatting Heavy


Putting the Wheels in Motion: How to Kickstart Your Fitness Journey

Mike Prior to Starting His Fitness Journey

We all know how important keeping our body moving is. The science behind the benefits of fitness and exercise has been known for decades. Different modalities of exercise (like lifting weights or running) elicit different benefits. Still, overall, they have all proven over and over that they make us happier and healthier and protect us from disease. So why is it so hard sometimes to start a routine?

Many times, we can defeat ourselves before we even get started. Walking through those doors may feel intimidating if you’ve never been to a big globo-style gym but want to pick up resistance training. Fear of judgment or feeling self-conscious about your current state of fitness can make you forget your motivations for going in the first place. You may also fear looking like you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s valid because you probably don’t. But that’s okay. I think it’s good. You’re a student again, and class has just begun. You have teachers around you, and most are willing to help. Don’t be afraid of the biggest guy or gal in the gym. From my experience, they’re always the ones most willing to help.

All the flashy fitness routines we see on social media can make it look like the barrier to fitness is way out of reach. But that’s not what you need. You need to assess where you are now. Don’t have the time or money to hit the gym for an hour? Good. Stay at home and do a bodyweight workout routine or something with a few old dumbbells. Do enough until your heart rate has been elevated for at least 30 minutes and you feel blood pumping into your arms and legs. Need a routine? There are infinite options on YouTube that provide instructions and demonstrations. Do this a few times per week until you’ve made it a habit. Then, think about an intentional movement practice that interests you and pursue it (weightlifting, bodybuilding, running, yoga, group fitness classes, etc.).

Don’t have an hour to devote to training each day? Good. Do movement snacks: short and succinct sessions throughout the day to elevate your heart rate, increase systemic blood flow, increase alertness, and increase total daily movement. If you don’t workout because you don’t have time, it doesn’t mean you should forfeit all intentional movement. Small 3-5 minute sessions, a few times a day, of a few sets of air squats, push-ups, burpees, lunges, sit-ups, or anything that elevates your heart rate will start moving you towards greater fitness levels. Once you’ve had enough movement snacks, you may want to prioritize an hour of movement each day. The improvements you can make physically by just using your own body are not to be downplayed.

In our clickbait society, fitness information has become overwhelming. Everyone can look convincing as they explain that this particular program is the one you need. The truth is, you need one that logically fits your current time, energy, and goals. If you don’t work out currently, don’t try to start a 5-day routine. You may string two weeks together, but you’ll likely get overwhelmed and exhausted, justify a way out of it, and not pick up a routine again for months. This is the cycle. Avoid the cycle at all costs.

Pursue a fun program that benefits your cardiovascular or muscular system (or both), is feasible for you to comply with, and isn’t too much too fast. Find something that is sustainable. Before long, it’s become a habit.

We also fear what we don’t know. Because we don’t know how to exercise, we avoid it. But that’s the wrong mentality. Being a student of the game is not a bad thing. Embrace the process. Find guidance through friends who take their health and fitness seriously, consult a personal trainer, or find reliable resources online. And I don’t mean on TikTok. Look for sources in the area you’re pursuing who have legitimate and relevant credentials and respectable experience and aren’t trying to sell you something.

Putting the Wheels in Motion: How to Kickstart Your Fitness Journey

Mike Finding the Fun in His Fitness Journey and Participating in a Marathon

If you want to begin lifting weights, get a cheap set of dumbbells for the house. Look up some physical therapists or personal trainers on YouTube who have exercise demo libraries. Pick a dumbbell exercise for each major muscle group (chest, arms, back, legs, core). Practice that exercise, and focus on feeling the target muscle. Now do 3 sets of each, resting as needed. Now, do that twice a week. Then three times per week. Then, you’ll want to buy heavier dumbbells. Then you may want to join a gym.

Understand that your journey to health and fitness isn’t a three month one. It takes a lifetime. It takes years of trying things, failing, trying again, learning, evaluating habits, breaking bad ones, and forming new ones. It doesn’t all come together at once. If it did, we’d all be healthy and fit. So, set a goal. Make it S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. If you want to lose 100 pounds, don’t make it your goal to lose 100 pounds. Make losing 10 pounds your goal. Losing 10 pounds is much more achievable and realistic and won’t take nearly as long as losing 100. Once you lose 10 pounds, check that box and make a new goal.

Goals can be small. Many times, they should be. There’s no need to shoot for the moon when you’re just beginning to learn how to fly the spaceship. If you don’t walk more than 5,000 steps each day, aim for 8,000. It’s a small goal, but chasing it will lead to a new habit. You walk more. Are you afraid of going to the gym and working out? Just show up three days a week and spend 15 minutes walking on the treadmill until you feel comfortable doing more. Be patient with yourself. Be forgiving. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. We make promises to ourselves, and we break them. Reflect, learn, and move forward.

But most importantly. Find joy in your movement. Physical expression is a beautiful part of life that everyone should be able to experience. Finding out what your body is capable of and what kind of movement makes it feel good is foundational to a healthy mind and body. Exercise may feel like a chore at first. But in time, you will develop a relationship with your body and gain confidence in your movement and mind, and before long, you might even love breaking a sweat.

— Mike Hirthler

Putting the Wheels in Motion: How to Kickstart Your Fitness Journey

Post Written by Michael Hirthler

Michael Hirthler is a practicing RN, Nurse Coach, personal trainer and current student in a Master’s of Nutrition Sciences degree. His aim is to help clear the confusion around health and wellness for the layperson and his nursing colleagues. More information can be found at www.here2health.co or @here2health on Instagram

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