There is no “best” fitness plan because we all have our own unique needs and abilities. If you would like a gentle shove in the right direction, ask yourself these seven questions before beginning a fitness plan.
1. Why is fitness important to me?
Before you create your amazing training routine, you need to figure out why fitness matters to you. Please don’t feel like you need to lose weight to impress your friends. It’s more motivating to focus on the benefits of exercise that connect with you on an emotional level. For example:
Do you want to get fit so you’ll have feel more confident in your body?
Do you want to get healthy so you’ll feel more energetic during the day?
Do you want to lose fat so your clothes will fit better or even so that you’ll have an excuse to buy some new clothes for the right reasons?
Trainers know that clients that make a list of the benefits of exercise in a notebook or diary are far more likely to succeed at meeting their goals. This is most effective when the reasons are personally meaningful and when they are recorded in a notebook or diary. By writing them down in a easy-to-remember location, you’ll be able to review them for a positive reminder of why exercise is worth your time.
2. How much time can I commit to exercise?
Let’s face it: you’re a busy person who can’t spend every waking moment worrying about your fitness. While forcing yourself to perform an inconvenient training plan might result in short-term results, it’s not a feasible strategy for long-term success. Instead, focus on realistic workouts that you can fit in your day.
3. What days and times could I work out every week?
Treat your training sessions as if they are important appointments. Follow these three steps to begin:
- Consult your day planner or online calendar.
- Find three to five days and times that tend to be wide open.
- Schedule at least a week of workouts right now.
If you can be patient and repeat those three steps every week, exercise could become a consistent habit you can perform without much thought process. And that is very important: you are most likely to succeed if you can form an exercise habit rather than counting on self discipline.
4. Should I join a gym, or would I be better off training at home?
Forcing yourself to go to the gym, despite feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious, could cause you to associate exercise with feelings of stress and anxiety. So here are your (very simple) criteria for deciding whether to join a gym.
- If you find the community aspect of a gym motivating or doubt you’ll form a habit if you rely on working out at home, join one.
- If exercising in front of other people causes stress or anxiety, exercise at home.
5. Am I going to be able to hold myself accountable or do I need support?
Need help? Don’t be afraid to say so! Seek support from a family member, fellow student or co-worker who shares your goal. Make your workouts a bonding experience, where you challenge each other to push harder and become stronger. If possible, coordinate your lunch times, because this will help you both make positive decisions.
6. Do I have any physical limitations or weaknesses I need to consider before I start?
If you have any conditions that limit your ability to move without pain, talk to a qualified medical professional before beginning any fitness plan. Getting yourself hurt due to a lack of planning won’t do your body any good. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
7. Is there a way to make this process more exciting by including activities I like to do?
Exercise shouldn’t bore you to tears. In fact, you are far more likely to be successful if you view workouts as a time to go have some fun!
- Are you a social butterfly? Make new friends at a group exercise class.
- Enjoy the outdoors? Take a hike, climb a mountain, or run through the woods.
- Need to let out some aggression? Sign up for a kickboxing class or karate lessons.
- Want to dance the night away? Invite your partner to a salsa or swing dance class.
- Way too busy for all of that? Get a home workout DVD or go on a neighborhood walk.
I hope these questions made the process of beginning a fitness plan less intimidating. Thanks for reading!
About the Author
Daniel Wallen is the CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of the Wallen Way. He is a personal trainer, Lifehack contributor, and author of, “The Busy Woman’s Guide to Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous.”