Getting started is usually the hardest part of reaching any goal. Whether you’ve been doing yoga for years and want to mix up your routine or your quarantine movement practice (or lack thereof) is getting stale, taking on a new type of fitness can feel both exciting and intimidating. Here are ten tips to keep in mind when getting started so you can push past overwhelm and focus on having fun.
Assess where you’re at
When deciding where we’re at with our current fitness level, we can be overly ambitious (or underly). Be aware of any injuries that you are working with or any particularly vulnerable spots. Knowing what you have to work with will do wonders in knowing where to focus your efforts.
Assemble what you need
Take some time to assemble anything you might need to get started. You want to have a good pair of shoes and an outfit that allows you to move freely yet holds you in at all of the important spots. You may choose to work with a fitness mat and even opt for some of the more playful equipment like a resistance band or pair of dumbbells. Taking the time to sort all of that out before you get started will support a seamless flow in your class.
Warm up your body
Although most fitness classes have a nice warm-up baked into the routine, with some of the shorter classes, the instructor gets right to it. If you are new, you want to be especially cautious about being warmed up properly. Consider taking a 5-10 minute walk before diving in.
Go at your own pace
Even entry-level classes have a moment where the instructor picks up the pace, and that may be too fast for you. It’s better to take things a bit slower and be a bit more cautious. You can always repeat the same routine in the future and build your pacing.
Choose the right level
A fitness class usually speaks to many levels. The instructor will begin with an entry-level move and then layer on challenges. Sometimes things move quickly and it can be hard to decipher what is happening. Just remember that in a good class, the instructor shows the more user-friendly version of the exercise first. If you try the next level of the exercise and find it too challenging, just go back to the simpler routine that you were previously doing and keep repeating it. We promise that even a little bit makes a difference.
Follow what works for you
If there is a move that is too challenging or you find yourself compromising on what feels safe for your body, pause and make a choice. You can simplify more complex moves by following just one part of what is going on. For example: follow the footwork and keep your upper body stable, or keep your feet planted and follow the upper body routine.
Listen to your body
It’s easy to get swept up in the charisma of the instructor. However, sometimes we focus so much on them that we may lose track of us. The only way to honor your own body is to continually ask for its feedback. Check in with your heart rate, check in with your breath, and make sure to listen to the answer!
Pay attention to your peak
There will probably be a moment in the class where you feel like you want to stop—and that’s a good thing. Most classes have a peak. A peak feels great because you know you pushed yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone. Just make sure you don’t push beyond what’s right for you.
Cool down at the end
If you were driving a car at 60 mph, you wouldn’t just turn the car off. You would step on the brakes, slow down, let the car come to a full stop, and THEN turn it off. Your body is the same. Once you have hit your peak, make sure you take time to cool down. If the class is short and the instructor doesn’t allow time to wind down, take some time on your own to do a little walking or stretching.
A gratitude practice is a quintessential ending for every practice. So often, we beat ourselves up over what we didn’t do, rather than recognizing that we’ve made progress. Remind yourself that a little movement is better than none. Your body is in better shape than you think, and the fact that you are feeling strong enough to tackle a new fitness challenge is something to feel thankful for. A little gratitude goes a long way.
Easing into a new fitness routine? We recommend trying “Gentle Strength for Beginners” with Kim Strother.