I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had joined the gym and started attending regularly- I am still in shock myself. It took me a long time to A) take the first plunge, B) find a way to stick to it and C) figure out a way of exercising that felt right for me. There was a considerable amount of trial and error. And although I'm no expert by any means I thought that I might lay out some tips that helped me along the way- here's to happy exercising? That's something I never thought I'd say.

 

FIGURE OUT WHAT MOTIVATES YOU


Apart from actually getting started, this is probably the hardest part. Like I said, I think it just comes down to a lot of trial and error. It took me 12 years of organised P.E. classes and probably a few extra years on top of that to figure out that I was all the wrong kinds of competitive. Left to my own devices I give up on fitness almost as soon as I've begun, but throw me in a class with other people and I am suddenly driven to try and be the best. It may be a little bit unhealthy, but it's made me realise I need people around me to motivate me to exercise. I've joined a gym so that there is always someone doing something in my peripheral vision because that's what spurs me on. It's different for everyone though- you may be motivated by the outdoors and prefer running, you may be motivated by the competition that comes with team sport or by dance classes that don't feel like conventional exercise. Whatever it is, once you find it stick to it. There's no point in forcing yourself to do something you're going to hate. *Ahem, running*

 

DECIDE WHY YOU WANT TO BE THERE


Something that is equally important is taking some time to figure out what your long-term goals are. Are you exercising just to feel healthier overall? Are you exercising to loose weight? Are you exercising to build strength? Are you exercising to tone and change your body shape? I decided I wanted to start exercising to improve my overall health and mood. The fact that I made that decision means I'm not bothered if I don't see immediate results in my appearance. For me, progression is when I come home at 8am awake, energised and excited for the day. Choose an overall goal and find a way to monitor that so that you feel content with your personal progress.

 

MAKE A PLAN


On a smaller scale, I find that making a plan of exactly what I am going to do in each session (and for how long) makes a world of difference. I suppose this only really applies if you've decided go to the gym, but it is so easy to get there and waste your time. Half-heartedly doing exercises who's purpose you aren't quite sure of won't make you feel productive. Do some research before hand (or ask your boyfriend to, that's been working pretty well for me), research that links to your broader goal, and come up with a structured plan. That way you'll come out feeling like you have accomplished something and not that you were paying a silly amount of money to run on a treadmill for an hour.

 

CREATE A ROUTINE


Again, this involved a certain amount of trial and error. For a long time I chose to exercise after work. I had myself labelled as categorically NOT a morning person and boy was I sticking to it. But take it from me, the internal battle between the you that has grand fitness plans and the you that has spent all day on their feet and wants a glass of wine is an uneven one. There were more abandoned post-work exercise attempts then I'd like to admit. I've since found that getting up before work works 1000x better! It wakes me up, I can have a shower and get ready afterwards, and my evenings are free to socialise or, even better, go home and chat to my bottle of wine. I also find I am 10x more likely to exercise if I sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule sessions into my diary. I've started going Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and as long as it's in the diary it's happened- so far, anyway.

 

Those are a few things that helped me get into a routine. Although, if those don't work I find that going sports gear shopping always does the trick. Nothing like a few new pairs NIKE shorts to get you excited about planking!

Have you been exercising recently? What helped you get started?