If you have decided to start working out but are not too experienced yet, you may get overwhelmed with all the opportunities out there. Where should you start?
The same thing happens when you are just tired of doing same things all over again and want to change something. There are so many possibilities out there, so how do you know what to choose?
There are several things to consider. Here's what most of us want from our workouts:
- They have to be in accordance with your goals and help to achieve them – If you want to run a marathon in the near future, olympic powerlifting may not be quite what you are looking for.
- They have to work with your schedule – Your work, family and other commitments. You understand that working out takes time, but you need to be able to fit into your daily schedule.
- They need to be fun – The worst workout? A boring, long and tedious one.
- The have to be versatile to keep your body changing – To create a change, get stronger, faster or more flexible, you need to switch things up every now and then to keep our body guessing. This is how you get better.
But there is one more thing that I'd like to discuss today.
What is it that you really enjoy doing?
This is extremely important thing to think of, especially if you are a beginner and don't yet have a clear idea of what you like and what you should go for.
The Importance of Enjoyment in Working Out
So there you are, full of excitement to get started. But what to do first?
You may start doing something that may be the newest trend in the fitness world, something that is supposed to give you a perfect booty or the most toned arms – or that's what you have heard.
But once you try it out, you may not like it. If you still keep pushing yourself, just because you were supposed to like it – because everybody else seems to, then working out becomes just a chore.
As a result, you won't achieve your goals.
It's way easier to keep up consistent workout regimen if you love what you are doing.
For example, if someone tells you that you need to run in order to get into best shape of your life but you really don't enjoy it, you'll stop sooner or later.
Maybe you start out with running five times a week. Then you get bored and tired, and cut it to three times a week. Because you really don't like it, getting yourself out and going becomes a real struggle, so eventually it's hard to get in even one run in a week.
But consistency matters.
You need to workout regularly to get the results that you are after. It's way better to workout for 30 minutes four times a week than two hours once a week, even if the total amount of time spent is the same.
You want your body to get used to consistent moving and create a habit that you can keep up.
If you don't like what you are doing, you most likely won't get the results that you are looking for.
This is pretty easy: If you are not able to keep up consistency, how are you supposed to get the results? If what you are doing is not enjoyable, you will start to skip the workouts, cut them shorter and find excuses to not go. You will probably convince yourself that there is something so important to do right now that just cannot wait.
But when you really love what you are doing, you make time for it and schedule other things around it. It's like booking a flight – it's there, it's scheduled, and there is no way you want to miss it.
But there is more than not getting results. If you don't like the workout that you are doing and you are not present, it may not be too safe, because…
If you are not loving what you are doing, you probably won't pay too much attention on doing it correctly.
Safety is extremely important in working out. If you are just dragging yourself to the gym to do these five sets of deadlifts just because you have to, you may not control your technique as much as you should and may hurt yourself.
Lifting heavy weights using poor technique or running trails or riding your mountain bike without paying attention to the terrain may lead to injuries. If you are doing these things without actually enjoying them and doing them only because the fitness magazines told you to, you are doing them for the wrong reason. Because the less you like something, the less present you are and the less attention you pay, and you simply set yourself up for injuries.
On the other hand, a good workout that you like, does miracles for your mind, which is just as important as the physical benefits that you are looking for.
For me, it's really important, because…
Working out is not only about getting better physique. What the mind gets out of it is as important.
Some people find long runs boring and frustrating. They get really bored, especially when they are running alone.
For others, long runs are almost therapeutic. They give them the chance to be alone with their thoughts and clear their mind.
Some people love CrossFit for its team spirit. CrossFit community is amazingly supportive and friendly. But if you love to work out on your own as opposed to sweating with bunch of other people, you probably won't like it.
For those who lift heavy stuff, there is nothing better than the powerful feeling that they get from it. Lifting a heavy bar off the floor gives them such a great boost of energy and confidence that carries on to life outside of the gym.
But if the gym environment is not for you, you don't like to workout indoors or you just don't like lifting, there is no need to push yourself.
You want your workout to produce you these happy hormones. You want to finish your workout thinking: That was a good one! I want to do it again! (ok, if not immediately after finishing, then a few hours later 🙂
How Do You Find What You Really Enjoy?
If you are new to fitness, this may be pretty hard. There are so many options to choose from, how do you know what you'll actually like?
You may turn to a friend who has worked out for years to ask some recommendations. Fitness blogs and articles provide tons of information about different workout options. Check out what classes your local gym has to offer.
That's all great for getting information, but to figure out what's really your thing, you have to try out several different things.
I have tried many different activities in my life. I have practiced track and field, played basketball and volleyball, tried to like skiing and swimming, done bodypump, spinning, pilates and bodybalance.
I've even tried Thai boxing! And of course, I have spent a lot of time at the gym and at the yoga studio.
But I've spent most of my time running, which was the number one way workout for me, for years. Then I fell in love with Crossfit.
Now I have found the right combination of these things – I don't go to any CrossFit gym, but I do CrossFit-inspired workouts on my own and incorporate lots of running into my WODs.
Why have I stuck with these things? Because I love them the most. But you may not love them at all.
We are all different and you have to try what works best for you.
Getting Over the Myths and Fears
I understand that a lot of things can be intimidating. There are also many exercise-related myths to bust.
The most common myths, especially among women, are probably related to heavy lifting. Women are scared to get big and bulky and pretty much turn into a man.
If that's what is holding you back from getting to a gym, you should know that muscle growth won't happen overnight. It requires a ton of work and a very specific diet and that won't happen easily, at all.
Or if you are just plain scared to get to the gym because of those looks you may get (this is another myth though), listen to Sarah Vance: Put on a hat, put your earbuds in and just don't give a s***.
The same thing is true for many other activities. For example, I kept putting off trying yoga because of two things: First, I thought it wouldn't count as a workout because it wouldn't make me sweaty. Second, the people that do yoga are…well, weird.
It feels so silly as I'm writing these words now, but that's what I thought years ago.
My love for yoga didn't start the first day I gave it a go. It took me a good five to six classes to see that I may start enjoying it. Fast forward today, I know that yoga can be physically very challenging.
Not to mention the mental benefit – when I was struggling with my depression, yoga became really important part of my life, helping me to become more mindful and focused.
No matter what the myths about any types of workouts can be, don't let them scare you off. You may find something really enjoyable.
Don't throw your hands up too quickly.
If there's something that you don't like from the very first time you try it, don't throw in the towel immediately. That's what I was almost going to do with yoga, but needless to say, I'm really happy that I didn't.
It's worth trying out a new-to-you workout with a friend who knows more about it or even better, a personal trainer. They will assist you and assure that you are doing things correctly, which makes working out so much more enjoyable. If something feels uncomfortable, the reason may easily be that you are just doing it wrong, so of course it won't feel good. Ask someone to correct you and try again as it may feel so much better.
There are so many different things there, from Pilates to Zumba and Tai-Chi to Olympic Weightlifting. Don't give up looking for the right thing just because there are so many different things or because something doesn't feel perfect right away.
However, there is no reason to do something that you don't enjoy, it doesn't matter if it works for somebody else.
Because if you don't enjoy what you are doing, you will stop sooner or later, and never get the results that you wanted.
Keep your eyes and mind open, try different things and you will find the way of exercise that makes you happy.
Have you found the exercise that you truly enjoy?
If not, why? If yes, what is it?
Great information, as always Kersten! I’ve had trouble finding something that I love to do, and that also fits my busy schedule. I love bikram yoga, but can’t always find 90 minutes every day to do it. Right now, running at lunch has been the best for me, simply because it’s convenient and i can do it before I get off from my second job and have lost my willpower. Love your tips so much!
Thanks Carissa! Yes, running is definitely the most convenient thing to do, it’s so easy and all you need is a pair of shoes. I think a bunch of good bodyweight exercises would be good too, if you are pressed in time! I have never tried Bikram, I fell in love with Vinyasa and been doing it ever since, but maybe it’s time to try something new!