I am lucky I've always been an active person, even as a child, so I have never really been a beginner to working out; nor was I ever a beginner at the gym. Although, I do remember how nervous I was stepping into a gym for the very first time in high school. For those of you starting your journey for the first time, I can sympathize how intimidating this realm is, especially with all the boutique studios and new concepts popping everywhere. First off, I applaud you for taking this first step! Here are some key things to think about before you begin this journey!
#1 - Love Your Body
A lot of people who start their fitness journey enter with a mindset of not being happy with their bodies versus wanting to become healthier. Therefore a lot of people are committing to fitness in order to achieve weight loss, look leaner, or look better in general. Having these desires is normal and OK, but what’s troubling is when this mindset also leads to an expectation that working out is the answer to all insecurities. Everyone’s first step is to first accept and love their bodies because no matter how hard you work out, the reality is, there’s a barrier to the satisfaction we can derive from aesthetics; especially if we don’t accept and love ourselves and our body first.
I grew up as an insecure child and teenager. Weight was always a pain point because I was always the chubby one in my family. Later on in life, I gained 9kg (about 19lbs) in University and my insecurity skyrocketed. Despite making some progress in my health and fitness, like losing some weight, increasing my level of fitness, eating healthier, etc. None was ever enough. I remained always dissatisfied because no matter how hard I trained if I don't prioritize the condition of my mind over the aesthetics, insecurities will disrupt the journey.
#2 - Know Your Body Type
We exist as a species with varied body types. Not just between genders, but even within the classifications of gender, there are different classifications of body types. Remember these classifications act as generalizations. The real truth is every individual body (even between identical twins) are unique to that individual. Each person on this planet possesses a distinct combination of characteristics and traits that make them unique.
In regards to fitness, these differences matter as it impacts each individual’s capacity in fitness. Not everyone is made to be the next Michael Jordan. No matter how hard I try (and let’s discount gender for a moment) I will never be a pro-NBA player because I am 160cm (5ft. 2in.) Neither will I become the next Usain Bolt. The reality is there are differences in which we are born with, which extends far beyond just height and is more specific to things such as; our body composition, the types of muscles we have, our resting metabolic rate, are we naturally more flexible, and so much more. What’s important is to maintain an honest and realistic approach to the differences in our bodies.
There are also plenty of online resources available to try and figure out what body type you are and what’s the best routine for your body type. One of the best ones I’ve come across is here. It takes you through a quiz to identify your body type based on your answers to different questions. The results also specify what kind of workouts are best for your body type.
#3 - Evaluate and Accept Your Level Of Fitness
I’m a massive believer in investing in proper form first before trying to do advanced workouts. The reason is, once someone has learned something he or she will become accustomed to the way they’ve been taught and over time these wrong movement patterns will become habitual actions which are automated. If you’re a beginner be honest about it. If you’re in a class setting, don’t be intimidated or ashamed to inform your trainer where you think you’re level is. It’s better to do something correctly and safely rather than trying to do something too hard and risk injury. Even if the person next to you is crushing one-legged burpees, don’t feel the pressure to keep up because, for all anyone knows, that person might be a superhuman robot (HA!).
Understand that it’s OK to be a beginner is the first step. There’s no shame in being honest about where we are because everyone started as a beginner, at some point. No one was born fit! Everyone worked hard to get to where they are! The sooner you start the longer you have to achieve greater results. Fitness is a lifestyle and it’s important to maintain consistency because physiological adaptations to fitness are impermanent, unless maintained.
Taking care of our bodies, our health, and an overall care towards well-being takes work! But, it is one of the most rewarding aspects of life, because it’s the gift that keeps on giving!