African-American female journaling in notebook. Making notes in diary.
African-American female journaling in notebook. Making notes in diary. Credit: Andriy Popov via 123RF

Starting a fitness plan is something most of us want to do at some point. Whether you want to go to the gym, exercise outdoors, or use your home fitness center, here are seven tips for creating a new routine you’ll actually stick to!

Start Slow

When starting a fitness routine, many people make the mistake of taking on more than they are physically able to do. If it’s been a while since you were consistently working out, or if you have never started a routine, consult with a doctor or physical trainer. Once you’re comfortable with a simpler routine, you can kick it up a notch — but don’t feel pressure to accelerate too quickly. After all, fitness is a lifelong journey, not a one-and-done checklist item.

Track Your Progress

Between the internet, apps, and social media, there are dozens of ways to virtually track your fitness progress and milestones, regardless of your goals. For example, if your goal is to run a certain number of miles in a certain amount of time, keep a log on your phone or computer. Use a fitness tracking app to measure your progress or get virtual support. Tracking your progress will allow you to look at the raw data of your journey so you can look back on how far you’ve come.

Make It Personal

Choose activities and a structure that work for you. Don’t do things you do not enjoy, and customize routines based on time constraints, your skill level, and your budget. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” in the fitness world, so do what works best for you and your lifestyle. Have you ever been interested in water aerobics? Check with your local recreational center to see if you can try out a class. Looking for fun and unique, yet accessible with little equipment required? Find a martial arts, dance, or kickboxing program near you and give it a go. You can also sign up for a virtual running program or walking group. There are many fitness options available; you just have to find what works for you!

Articulate Your Goals

Once you’ve set your goals, know what specific activities are right for you, and are ready to begin, spread the word about your fitness journey to your friends and family. This will help keep you accountable for sticking to your routine because the trusted people in your life who are aware of your goals will have the opportunity to check in with you to see how it’s going. A support network is a great way to stay on track, so you’re not alone in accomplishing your goals. You can even leverage your social media to share progress pictures along the way!

A woman in a group aerobic class.
A woman in a group aerobic class. Credit: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF

Celebrate Small Victories

You aren’t going to accomplish your goals overnight. It takes consistency and repetition, one step at a time. Be sure to celebrate small progress along the way. If your goal is to hold a plank for two minutes, but you’ve only been able to reach 90 seconds, take a moment to look back at how far you’ve come and take pride in the little wins along the way, knowing that you’re capable of reaching the finish line, which is getting closer and closer.

Accept Burnout

Let’s face it: There will be times when you simply don’t feel like lacing up your running shoes or hitting the gym, and that’s perfectly normal. Acknowledging these feelings helps you remember why you started your fitness journey in the first place rather than seeing them as a sign of weakness, which will help you move past them.

Leave Comparison at the Door

It’s easy to compare your journey with others and feel intimidated by those who can physically handle more than you can. However, consider that every expert was once a beginner and that everyone exercises for the same common goal: personal fitness.

Remember, starting a fitness routine isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. Take it one step at a time, build consistency, and soon you’ll find that it’s a natural part of your life.