Every person has milestones in their life, those moments they look back on and realize how much that single moment changed them. Joining a gym for the first time didn’t have quite that dramatic effect on me, but it did make me feel like a real adult. When I called to tell my friends I’d just been to the gym for the first time, most of them said something along the lines of, “OH MY GOSH, YOU’RE A REAL ADULT!” I know, right??
While I now enjoy going to the gym and don’t completely dread my weekly visits pumping iron, I used to hate working out. It took me my entire college career to get to a place where I felt like I could workout without feeling like an idiot and to feel confident in my body’s capability to actually lift weights (I used to have the arm strength of spaghetti noodles, no joke).
There were a few things I did that finally got me into a real gym. I didn’t do anything drastic, but instead gave myself a few years of mental pep talks, for lack of a better term. The following five things put me into a good mental space that got me motivated to workout and take care of my body.
Follow fitness instructors on Instagram
I realize scrolling through Instagram isn’t working out, but working out is a million times easier if you feel motivated and inspired to do it. When I first started making a conscious effort to workout, I first found a few fitness influencers on Instagram with feeds that really inspired me. The mix of sweaty post-workout photos and informational posts on what to do at the gym gave me the confidence to go to the gym because I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing.
Always take the stairs
I work on the sixth floor, and I take the stairs every single day. Part of this is because I’m mildly terrified of elevators (I couldn’t go all the way up the Eiffel Tower—let’s just leave it at that), but I also feel better after taking the stairs. I know it seems like such a small thing, but taking the stairs really does make a difference and can have a major impact on your overall health.
Take long walks
In high school, I never felt the need to workout. I was in show choir, did musicals, and was usually in school from 7am until 8 or 9pm once my extracurriculars really got going. College was a huge change for me physically. My only commitment was attending class, and the rest was pretty much optional. My first year, I basically sat around and did nothing, which made me feel lethargic in my day-to-day life.
I got into the habit of taking hour-long walks every day while I was the chef at a ranch out west. Being trapped in hot kitchen all day made me eager to stretch my legs, and living in the Rocky Mountains was the perfect opportunity to get my walk on. My daily walks have been part of my routine ever since, and they’ve been a great stepping stone for making me more active overall. Above all, my walks help clear my mind and I return home in a much happier mood after I’ve taken time to look after myself physically and mentally.
Do workout videos on YouTube
My all-time favorite workouts are from Cassey Ho, founder of Blogilates. Cassey makes great 10-15 minute pilate routines on her YouTube channel and her sunny personality keeps you from punching your computer screen in frustration when you’re 45 seconds into the hardest plank of your life.
Many of the fitness Instagram accounts I follow have accompanying YouTube channels. While many of their videos are more focused on their daily lives, they often feature workout snippets and offer good advice on clean eating.
Working out at home helped me learn the proper form for many exercises and gave me the space I needed to do things at my own pace. Although it can be a challenge to motivate yourself to do at-home workouts, I found that they made me less self-conscious about working out in the long run. I did at-home workout videos for two years before I got the guts (and the funds) to join a gym and workout in front of other people.
Begin a nightly workout routine
If workout videos aren’t your thing, look up a few exercises online that you’d like to try. Doing a simple 15-minute workout routine when you first get up or before your go to bed will help you practice basic exercises and will get your body used to moving.
My standard 15-minute routine includes a set of bicycles (for your abs), 30 regular squats, 30 plié squats, jumping jacks, and cobra pushups. This slowly built up my core and leg strength, and I began adding in more exercises every few weeks just to see what I could do.
If you’re at the start of your fitness journey, I hope these ideas help you get used to working out regularly. And if you have more experience in the fitness realm, I’d love to hear your thoughts on motivating yourself to workout!