There are certain factors that may hold people back from working out: age, physical ability, proximity to a gym, lack of knowledge about exercise, but even if all of those things describe you and your current situation, it’s never too late to start working out, and it’s possible for everyone.
We’ve gathered everything you need to know to safely and effectively start your exercise journey:
You may be eager to get back to the level of fitness you were comfortable with in the past, or to reach a level that someone else is at, but don’t expect your body to get there right away. Give yourself some time to ease back into working out without too many expectations. Even dedicating just 10 minutes a day of movement — walking, doing yoga, riding a bike — is a great place to start. It’s all about getting into the habit of working out, and establishing a routine that you can stick to. As you get stronger, you can adjust the length of your workout, along with the number of reps you complete, and the weights you use.
Without some sort of motivation, it may be hard to get yourself to the gym. But when you identify the “why” of your exercising, you may find it easier to push forward — even on days when you’re feeling tired. Whether you want to get in shape for a specific event, be able to lift a certain amount of weight, or simply to reduce stress, finding that source of motivation can help keep you going when you feel like calling it quits.
If you’re brand new to working out, setting a goal to complete a marathon is a great goal, but try setting smaller objectives first that will help get you there, like running a mile in a certain amount of time. Then once you reach that milestone, aim for completing a 5K race. Accomplishing those smaller goals may prevent you from becoming discouraged along the way, and will give you the motivation you need to reach that ultimate end goal.
Looking in your closet only to find a stretched out T-shirt and the same shorts you wore in high school isn’t exactly the most comfortable — or motivating — for exercising. Instead, invest in some new clothes that you feel good in, that will allow you to move properly during your workout.
Jumping directly into a high-intensity workout without allowing your muscles to warm up first can increase chances for injury. It’s important to stretch prior to your workout, which can increase blood flow to the muscles, and enhance flexibility and muscle elasticity. Cooling down — like light walking or stretching — after a workout is just as important, and can reduce muscle soreness while helping your body get back to normal breathing patterns.
The best way to stick with a workout routine is to find a type of exercise that you love. For example, if you hate running, put down the running shoes and give yoga or rock climbing a try. If you prefer group exercise, sign up for a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class. There are so many great gyms throughout Chicago that offer everything from cycling and strength training to pilates and barre. Experiment with different types of workouts to find the one you most enjoy because that’s going to be the easiest one to stick to.
Not quite sure how to swing a kettlebell? Or how to properly execute a squat? Before you try these things on your own, schedule a one-on-one session with a personal trainer. Personal trainers will be by your side every step of the way, showing you the proper way to complete each exercise to increase its effectiveness, and help prevent injury. They can also give you the motivational push you need when you’re too tired to complete that last rep. Trainers can also customize your workout plan based on your individual goals. For instance, a workout plan for someone training for a marathon is going to look very different from someone wanting to enter a CrossFit competition.
Pushing yourself through a bit of discomfort during a tough workout is one thing, but forcing yourself to finish a workout when you’re injured is entirely another. If something feels off, or not right, listen to your body. Pushing through pain can cause and exacerbate injuries. Check in with yourself often during your workouts to keep yourself healthy throughout your exercise journey.
Give yourself as much patience and grace as you’d give your best friend. Working out isn’t something that comes easy, and it takes time and patience to reach the goals you’ve set. If you’re learning a new style of exercise, such as HIIT, don’t expect to go all in right away and be perfect at every exercise. It takes time to learn something new, and you’ll get there.
When you’re trying to reach a goal or a certain fitness level, you may want to commit to an hour-long workout every day of every week. However, working out every single day for hours at a time isn’t the key to progressing. Your body needs rest days in order to repair and build muscle, restore the body’s energy levels, reduce muscle pain and soreness, and prevent injury. Set a schedule ahead of time to determine which days you’ll workout, and which days you’ll rest or focus on mobility.
Ready to get started working out? We’re ready to help you reach your goals — no matter what they are. You’ll find a CrossTown Fitness location in West Loop, Roscoe Village and Lakeview, and no matter which location you choose, you’ll find dedicated trainers and a supportive community of members. Learn more about what to expect during your first visit to CrossTown Fitness here.