So, you've decided to start working out. Way to go! Starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle journey can seem like a daunting task. You’ve got to buy new workout gear, eat healthy food and join a gym. But the truth is living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be so hard.
You can totally workout and meet your goals - and you can do it all at home (or outside, or at your friend's house!) We’re here to tell you that getting in shape is never a one-size-fits-all ordeal. And while there are a few things you absolutely do need to get in tip top shape, a gym membership is not one of them – unless you’re into that, and that’s okay too!
If your curious what it takes to work out without one, we’re breaking down what you need to start a full workout regimen – like figuring out how to move, how to challenge yourself and how to start a routine - so you can save the hard stuff for your actual workout.
Figure Out What You Like
If you haven’t yet figured out what kind of exercise you actually enjoy, now is the time to experiment. There are lots of different ways to move your body. The key to building a strong, consistent routine is finding a workout that doesn’t feel like punishment.
Maybe you like to go all-in with bootcamp style HIIT workouts, or maybe you like to burn stress with kickboxing. The great thing is that from running, to climbing or playing team sports, there really is a workout for everyone.
Use your resources to find workouts that fit your needs. YouTube is a great way to try many different styles of workouts all from the comfort of your living room. If getting outside is more your style, hitting the pavement, trying local sports programs or checking for community yoga classes is a great way to get started. Apps like Couch to 5k and Aaptiv offer popular options for workouts on-the-go with a little more guidance.
During this stage don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, this is your time to experiment! Try new things. Mix it up. Who knows, you may find out that acrobatic trampoline workouts are totally your thing – or not! If that all sounds like a little too much to take on right now, starting with basic bodyweight exercises is always a solid choice. Most bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push ups and crunches can be done absolutely anywhere and are great for building strength. Combine them into circuits and you have a full-blown workout. Don’t forget the basic structure of any good workout: warmup – workout – cooldown.
Start Challenging Yourself
Once you’ve found an exercise or two that you can commit to, it’s time to start keeping your body guessing for #gains. It important not to push yourself too hard when you first begin, but once you get going there are a few ways to start challenging yourself:
Mix Things Up
Your body adapts quickly. One of the best ways to keep it guessing is to mix things up. There are a number of different ways to do this. One way is to switch up your workouts. Instead of doing body weight circuits every day, throw in some cardio and even some yoga a couple of times a week. This will help make sure your heart and muscles get the attention – and push - they need to bring you to the next level.
If you’re committed to a specific program, change things up by focusing on different body areas. Even a change of scenery can do the mind and body good.
Some people stick to bodyweight exercises forever – and that’s okay! But if you’re ready to start building more strength and seeing big muscle growth, resistance is key. As your muscles get stronger, you will need to keep increasing stress to challenge them and see progress. But that doesn’t mean you need to hop on the gym equipment.
If you’re on a budget – start by using what you have. Soup cans, gallons of milk and other objects can be a great starting point. When you’re ready to advance, look into exercise bands. Bands are a popular way to add some resistance to common body weight exercises – plus they’re portable and affordable. There are also surprisingly low-cost dumbbells available online and in discount stores like Ross and TJMaxx.
Increase Your Endurance
Even if you are more of a cardio person, there are still ways to challenge yourself and increase your strength. The goal here is to run, row, bike, etc.…increasingly faster or longer. Experts recommend adding one minute per week to your cardio time if you’re running or doing other types of intense steady-state cardio. Try intervals, hills and alternating between low speeds and high speeds to further increase your heart rate.
Build A Routine
Great. You’ve figured out your thing. Now it’s time to start thinking about what a consistent and sustainable lifestyle looks like for you. The most important thing is to set realistic goals to develop a consistent routine.
For most people, shooting for 2-3 times a week is a great start. This gives you time to rest and recuperate so you can give your workouts your all. If you find this schedule is too easy or you’re just really into moving your body, you can adjust your workload from there. The idea is to pick a time and stick with it. That way working out becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth (even if it never seems that easy.)
And just because you’re not heading to classes at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t schedule your workouts! Pulling out your planner is a great way to give yourself a sense of responsibility and commitment for getting your workouts in. Better yet, recruit a friend for extra support and accountability.