The Beginner Workout Plan: 4 Tips to Find the Help you Need
New and Nervous?
Walking into any fitness facility for the first time takes a tremendous amount of courage. Believe it or not, this can be true even for people who are comfortable with training—even though the equipment is familiar, the people and community are not.
Nevertheless, it takes a great deal more bravery to initially enter the gym or to start a new weekly workout plan if you are new to training—and even more than that if you are self-conscious about whether you will be respected for your size, gender, sexual orientation, injury history, movement restrictions, age, etc.. You know that you will have questions and need assistance, but you are concerned about whom you should ask, or even how to ask for help.
Above all, give yourself credit for taking this first step towards your fitness-related goals! This is a huge deal, and you should applaud yourself.
Second, know that there are several things for you to keep in mind that can help you feel confident enough to ask for the help you need, advocate for yourself, and set yourself up for successful achievement of your goals.
1. Trust Your Instincts, Not Your Fears
Your fears will tell you all sorts of things about the gym, the people in it, and the equipment that you find there. These fears are liars. Fear keeps us stuck, forcing us into a state of paralysis and shame. One of the worst things that you could do at the onset of a new commitment to movement is to allow your fears to determine your actions.
If you have made the time and opportunity to train, do it! Go to wherever it is that you are going to train—be it a gym, hiking trail, dance floor, or living room—and move.
If you have a question, ask it! Seek out someone who has the knowledge and experience to guide you to the answers you need.
And if you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, acknowledge it! It is 100% okay to reach out to a fitness pro and say, “I don’t even know what I need to know to get started: can you help?” I can promise you that they’ve heard it before, and if they’re worth their title, they will be more than happy to help you get started on the right foot.
However, not giving in to your fears does not mean that you should hand over your discernment and self-care to blind stubbornness.
Whether you are working on choosing which fitness facility to join, which online personal trainer to hire, or what type of exercise you want to pursue, trust your gut if it tells you something truly isn’t for you. If a gym feels unwelcoming, a trainer’s methods and philosophy feel unsettling, or a type of movement feels downright unpleasant, it’s okay to go elsewhere! Remember: all people have an equal right to be respected and encouraged along their fitness journey. That includes you.
2. Let Go of Your Idea of Perfection
One question many people have when they start incorporating fitness into their lives is how often they should move, for how long, and in what ways. They may consult a well-meaning friend or a website that offers a standardized answer that supposedly is true for all people and then feel frustrated at just how far removed even the “minimum” suggestions are from their current capabilities.
For someone just getting started, all-or-nothing thinking and perfectionism are some of the greatest impediments to progress.
Ask yourself what is truly sustainable: what frequency and duration can you commit to realistically? For now, that’s the best answer. Build up a context of successfully meeting that baseline goal, and go from there. You may be surprised at how naturally this context of success lends itself towards an increased enthusiasm for incorporating more movement into your life.
Keep this in mind when you ask for help: it is okay to advocate for what will work for you. Ten times out of ten, what is sustainable trumps what is “ideal” but unrealistic. There is nothing shameful about developing an exercise schedule that you will still be enthusiastic about and committed to a year from now—or two years, or ten years, or for life.
In fact, developing an enjoyable, long-term relationship to movement is one of the most important things you could do along your path towards health and wellness.
3. Connect with the Reasons behind Your Reasons
One thing that pretty much all trainers and coaches will ask you right off the bat is, “What are your goals?”
It’s very common for people to answer that question with an aesthetic goal, such as weight loss or muscle gain. There’s nothing wrong or surprising about those goals given how focused on appearance our society tends to be, not to mention the degree to which weight has been incorrectly made synonymous with health—but it is rare that they are truly most people’s root goals.
Ask yourself this question: “What do I think will be different about me and my life once I reach my appearance-related goals?”
Common answers to that question include increased confidence; faith that one’s body will be able to respond to day-to-day challenges; increased stamina, strength, and mobility; improved comfort in movement; decreased stress and insecurity; freedom from nagging aches and pains; increased energy; and/or improvements in mood.
Which of those root goals are most important to you? Is there something else not listed that motivates you? Be sure to communicate these things when you ask for assistance towards reaching your goals.
Here’s a little secret that can help you along your path towards fitness: positive goals provide greater motivation than shame-based ones. Frame your questions around what will help you manifest these root goals, and you will be most likely to set yourself up for an enjoyable, successful commitment to fitness.
4. Check in with Yourself Frequently
Before you begin your workout, ask yourself how you feel. Check in with different parts of your body: do you feel any aches or discomfort? Are you feeling resistance towards training? How are your stress levels and mood?
During your workout, check in with yourself frequently as well. Where do you feel different movements the most? What is your breath doing? How is your posture? What messages are you telling yourself in your internal monologue? If you’re working with an online fitness coach, communicate these findings to them; if you’re not, but feel concerned about something you notice, seek out someone who is qualified to help and let them know what you’ve observed.
After your workout, check in with yourself again. Do you feel different than you did before your workout? Ask yourself the same questions you did beforehand, and notice especially any changes in your stress levels and mood.
Almost without exception, people notice an impressive improvement in their bodies and minds following a workout; this, of course, provides incredible motivation to continue on with one’s fitness journey.
If you haven’t yet discovered a weekly workout plan that works for you, you are not alone! Don’t worry: there are so many options, and the availability of online personal training means that you now have more options than ever before to help you connect with an online fitness coach who will be able to help you find a custom workout plan that works for you in your life.
You deserve credit for committing yourself to your health and wellness journey. Now, give yourself the best chance you have for success: seek help, ask questions, advocate for yourself, and keep on moving forward!