I am not fit (yet), nor am I a fitness expert. But on April 18, 2009, after months of procrastination and years of false starts, I started a new fitness program. I've been Tweeting and Facebooking my progress and am thankful to the many people who are cheering me on.
This undertaking is very difficult, but I am doing it. I've shared a few of my insights here and here. Since I'm still new at this, I'm in the perfect position to speak to people who are out of shape and at a loss about how to do anything about it.
Here are three things you can do to start a fitness program without exercising. Though I did not plan it in advance, this is essentially how I started out on April 18.
- Tour a local gym. Don't make a commitment to do anything other than show up for the tour. Most gyms have enough staff to host a tour on a walk-in basis, but if you're not sure, call ahead and make an appointment. Tour the gym (more than one if possible) and learn about their offerings and fees. Take the brochures and flyers home. Read them and put them in a place where you'll see them often to be reminded of the choice you have to change your life for the better.
- Watch fit people engage in fitness related activities. For example, watch a tennis match at a public court, a 5K run, a swimming or track meet or an aerobics class. Do this live, not via your couch and television set so you can surround yourself with the entire experience. Watch the participants. Observe how they move. Do they appear confident? Empowered? Excited? Would you like to look and feel more like that?
- Watch exercise videos. Again, don't do anything, just pop them in your DVD player and watch. Listen to the sound of the instructor's voice. Watch the participants. Pay close attention to the close-up shots. Can you see abdominal muscles flex when they do crunches? Can you see how their biceps look when they lift dumb bells? Can you see how their thighs look when they do squats? Does it look good to you? Would you like your thighs to look less like they do now? Could the video help that happen?
I am not suggesting that you watch videos and events so you can compare yourself to others and beat yourself up because you'll never look like them.
I am suggesting that you watch others experience the benefits of exercise so you are in a better position to decide whether you want more of the kind of lifestyle they have, and less of the kind of lifestyle you have right now.
Starting a fitness routine is challenging for anyone who has never liked exercise (me) or who has gotten so out of shape (me) that the thought of walking from the back of the parking lot to the front door of the grocery store can cause high levels of anxiety.
If you want to start a fitness regime, but you don't feel like you can yet, start by exposing yourself to the benefits of exercise by spending time around fit people. It may work for you. It may not. But it can't hurt.
If rubbing shoulders with people who take time for themselves has any influence at all, it will certainly be positive one.
Question: What are your tips for helping beginner's start a fitness program? How do you motivate yourself?