First 4 Steps In Starting A Workout


    By William Butler


    Most people know the benefits of going to the gym. It’s probably why losing weight and going to the gym more often are consistently the number one New Year’s Resolutions. For many of you, this was probably the case. And yet, here we are in June, with most of us not going to the gym as often as we had hoped?



    For the first time in a while, I can honestly said that I’ve made pretty good of my resolution. I’ve jogged every 2-3 days increasing my mileage from 1 to 5. I’ve decreased the time to run a mile from about 15 minutes to 8 minutes. I’ve recently started weight training and it wasn’t until this time around that I found out what the problem with keeping this resolution has always been: a lack of straightforward, no nonsense information.                                                              



    Most websites maintain that every person is different and that all workouts should be tailored to the individual. While this is true, that is not to say that I can’t think of any general guidelines to help people get back on track. Here are a few of those observations I’ve taken that have led to my success:



    1. Take Baby Steps: Mary Pipher is a respected therapist and author that I admire. In Letter’s to a Young Therapist she expresses people’s problems with change almost perfectly. She writes that people are eager for things to be different but they’re afraid to make changes. This approach-avoidance conundrum may be at the center of why adopting new habits fails. She recommends that her patients take baby steps. One of my favorite ideas she expresses is that if we take too large of steps, we will surely fall. Learning to go to the gym is the same as we learn to walk; we need to celebrate every step. Yes, this means breaking down going to the gym into its simplest components: patience and progression. Start off going for regular walks in the evening after dinner. That’s all, a 20 minute walk in the evening. Maybe to the nearest park and back. Focus on the mental health benefits you’ll receive after a few weeks. You may find that you’re calmer after your walks. Maybe increase your walks on some nights, going for 45 minutes but never do less than 20.



    1. Take the Next Step: This may be a month after you’ve started your walks. Now it’s time to step up the pace and include progression. Jogging is a great way to do this. You may be walking consistently for 45 minutes a day but don’t expect your jogs to start out at this level. Keep in mind to take baby steps, jog for ten minutes one week. Twenty minutes the next. Eventually, step it up to thirty minutes jogging sessions. After this, you may want to invest in an app like MapMyRun or a similar tracking program. Run a mile, take your time. The next day, do it again but try to go a little faster. After a few days, add a second mile.



    1. Do Your Homework: The next step is going to a gym. You will want to research the gyms in your area and maybe schedule a tour of their facilities before you begin. If you’re a UCF student, keep in mind that you pay over 100$ a semester for the ultimate in gym facilities. Surf their website, scope it out, and do your homework. Just doing this research and stepping foot in a gym is enough at this step. Reward these small steps and don’t fear desserts. Start counting calories and set aside some for rewards and splurging. It’s natural for our brain to want some variety and pleasure, if we deprive ourselves of that, we will fail at whatever goal we’re looking to obtain. Don’t feel guilty for the occasional reward, it will pay off overtime.



    1. Go Easy on Your Joints: Now it’s time to start off small, preferably on cardiovascular machines. A stationary bike or elliptical machine will feel like such a relief after your month of jogging. You’ll be inside in an air conditioned environment and be surprised by your endurance. These machines are also easier on your joints.



    Although it’s trite, everyone truly is different. These steps will get you started on a workout routine and next week I’ll follow up with stepping up your workout. Be sure to consult with a doctor before starting any workout routine and know your limits. Happy working out!




    William Butler is a psychology and pre-medical student at the University of Central Florida. He works as a receptionist for UCF Health Services at the College of Medicine in Lake Nona, Fl. He also volunteers for the MIT-2 lab, IMAlive suicide hotline, and UCF Counseling and Psychological Services Student Advisory Council. He is interested in neuroscience, music, and spending time with his friends and family. Despite his wide range of interests, William is NOT a medical or mental health professional and all attitudes expressed are opinions and are not intended to be used as medical advice.