Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Getting Started With Fitness

You know how every year a ton of people make New Year's Resolutions to get in shape, lose weight, etc. etc. And those resolutions last approximately 2.5 seconds before people get distracted with their real lives?

One of the big efforts the FitFluential team is working on is to encourage fitness newbies to get started now. There's no reason to wait until the New Year when you can start making healthier choices today.

In light of that, I thought I'd take a quick minute to share how I got started with fitness and a few tips I learned along the way.

1. Take advantage of the equipment or tools available to you. College was the first time I wasn't actively playing a sport or part of a dance team and as I spent more time hanging out with friends and eating bad dining hall food, and less time being active, the pounds crept on. But a little before Thanksgiving break, I discovered the gym and started running for 30 minutes each day after class. It wasn't anything crazy, but it got me moving, and since the gym was free to students, it wasn't like I was breaking the bank to make fitness happen. So be on the lookout for fitness freebies. You never know what you'll find.

2. Read about fitness. When I was home from college I would read all of my mom's copies of Runner's World, Shape, Self, Fitness and whatever other fitness magazines she had laying around the house. They all gave me good ideas for workouts to try so I wouldn't get bored doing the same thing over and over. Reading all those Runner's World magazines is what convinced me I should train for my first marathon. So find magazines or blogs you love and use them as inspiration.

3. Find something you love. When I was in college, I fell in love with group fitness classes. I was that girl in the front row of kickboxing and strength training who never missed a class. I loved taking the classes so much that I got certified to teach them. When you find an activity you truly enjoy doing it makes it so much easier to show up. I loved the energy in group fitness classes and would recommend them to anyone looking to get started.

UMD fitness instructors
Throwback to my fitness instructor days

4. Challenge yourself. When I signed up for my first marathon, the only previous race I had done was a 5K with my mom, and we walked it. But I knew I wanted to push myself and challenge myself. So I got online and plunked down the entry fee for the Baltimore Marathon. After I paid the money, I knew I was committed to training and completing the race. Don't be afraid to commit to something big just because you've never done it before. Push your boundaries and you may surprise yourself.

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After finishing the Baltimore Marathon

5. But be safe! There's nothing wrong with shooting for the moon in your fitness goals, as long as you're safe about it. If you're training for a longer distance, make sure you follow a training plan that's suited to your level of activity. Make sure you have the proper gear (whether that be properly fitting running shoes or a bike that's sized to your body.) And rest when you need it to avoid injury.

6. Be realistic with your schedule. When I started working out, my classes and my social life were my first and second priorities. Fitness came in third. But it was important enough that I would try to make it work in my schedule. I'd try to schedule my classes so I had free time for the gym while my friends were still in their own classes or I'd wake up early to get in a work out. The most important thing that helped fitness stick was that I wasn't having to miss out on my life in order to get to the gym. If you can find that balance, you will be much more likely to stick to your goals.

7. Don't feel bad if you're not perfect. It's OK to skip your workouts every once in a while if you're too busy, too tired or just plain old want a day off. Don't beat yourself up because you "fell off the wagon." No one is perfect and we all have lives outside of working out. It's OK to nourish those other parts of your life too. Sometimes happy hour with friends will make you feel better mentally than any workout could.

So that's my story and my advice on how to get started with fitness today. Seriously, you don't have to wait until the New Year. Go for a walk today or pick an apple over a cookie. It's really the small changes that will add up over time.

What advice do you have for fitness newbies? How did you get started with fitness?

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