It’s the beginning of a new year and it seems everyone is either kicking off the year with a newfound fitness routine or going even harder at the gym. I am no exception to that rule and think that January is as good as any other month of the year to start your fitness journey. However, I recognize that wellness of not a one-size-fits all phenomenon – what works for some might not work for others. While I personally love to sweat it all out at CrossFit at the moment and kickstart my day with Yoga, you might prefer to go on long walks or bike around town (my personal hell).
When I first began properly exercising a couple of years ago I was terrified by the bright lights, loud music, and complicated machines in the gym. While everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were doing, I felt too daunted to do more than spend an hour on the treadmill before shuffling back to the changing room.
Today I am working out four to five times a week and can safely say that going to the gym has become an integral part of my lifestyle. I crave exercise even when I’m on vacation and get antsy when I haven’t worked out for a couple of days. It has become my solace, my balance, and my fuel. This transformation only happened when I learned to separate working out from weight-loss in my mind. I grew up in a society marked by diet-culture and went on my first diet when I was 13. Slowly, the active child turned into a sport-phobic teenager terrified of calories and refusing to engage in any sort of exercise.
My Fitness Journey: Your Questions Answered
In order to answer your questions in this post, I asked you to send me your questions regarding my fitness journey on Instagram stories.
How did you start? Did you get a PT, follow a guide or buy a program?
I have always been in and out of the gym. About two and a half years ago, however, I finally started to take things more seriously and bought myself a gym guide from one of the popular Instagram trainers. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing exactly what I did but rather go for a hands-on approach. Such as hiring a personal trainer, asking a professional or attending classes with a certified instructor. I realize now that I made so many mistakes in the beginning and that my biggest issue with confidence in the gym simply came from a lack of knowledge.
Do you have a workout schedule or do you train however you like?
I trained with a schedule for the longest time and it gave me amazing results. Especially when only going to the I would recommend having a schedule and following it. It gives you a sense of structure and helps you navigate your way around the gym and build up stamina, strength, and confidence. At the moment I train however I like and follow my intuition rather than any clear schedule. It simply did not make any sense to start a new plan in the middle of moving. However, I plan on being on a stricter schedule when I get back from Bali and things start to settle down, though. It does help you massively if you want to see progress.
How do you motivate yourself to go train (even when you’re sore)?
Honestly, at this point, I crave exercise more than I thought I ever would. What always works for me, when I feel a bit sluggish and meh, is scheduling my workouts into my weekly routine. Also, I find that I have more motivation to actually hit the gym when I have fun during my workout. Meeting a friend is also a good way to motivate yourself. It’s really hard to give general advice on how to motivate yourself because we’re all so unique and so are our lives. Just try out different things and try to find your vibe.
What is/was the most difficult part about finding a workout routine that works (in the beginning and now)?
Actually the beginning is the most difficult part for just about anyone. Finding a routine you like and pushing through the first few days/weeks always is the hardest. When I came back from Bali last year I was in really good shape but quickly fell into a slump and didn’t really work out for over two months. Getting back into it was hard. I scheduled my workouts and physically wrote them down into my dairy. I signed up for things that were fun and tried to take it slow. Another rule I have is: never stop for more than two days. Skipping one or two days is fine (and sometimes even necessary) but as soon as I haven’t been to the gym for more than two days it can become a struggle. So I try to never stay away for more than two days at a time and it really works for me.
Humans make thousands of decisions a day. But realistically there are only so many decisions we can actually make. That many choices can lead to decision fatigue, which makes it difficult to decide on what to eat for dinner after a long day. By making a game plan for fitting in your fitness the night before, you’re less likely to talk yourself out of it when it’s time to make the choice to go or not to go. Be realistic about your habits. Whatever potential obstacles you anticipate, address them the day/night before. That way, as the day goes on or you’re trying to motivate yourself in the morning, you’ve already put things in place to make fitness a priority.
What would you recommend a total gym newbie?
Get a trainer or a workout buddy. Sign up for classes, rather than going to the gym on your own. Try out different workouts: yoga, strength training, CrossFit, boxing, dancing. There are so many different workout styles available these days and key in finding a workout routine you can actually stick with is finding something that brings you joy. Rather than trying to go from zero to 1000, simply commit to showing up for yourself. Change your mindset. You are not doing this not because you have to but because you WANT to. When you stop trying to tackle it all at once and instead take on your goal in small steps, it will shift your mindset.
How do I overcome Gym Intimidation?
Gym intimidation is normal and I think each and every fitness lover has been there at some point in their journey. What helped me most is realizing that, actually, no one in the gym really cares for you. Everyone is too focused on themselves to even notice you, so you might as well go there and give your all. If you’re new to exercise, classes can be a great way to get started. This way you can start off under the watchful eye of an instructor. If you do venture into the weights section of the gym: don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most gyms have trainers that are there to help you. There’s no shame in asking how to use the equipment. Also, don’t let Instagram fool you. A lot of people you’ll see post online still feel rather out of place at the gym. Especially when it’s crowded. The more you go, the more comfortable you’ll start to feel also.
What role does yoga play in your fitness routine? How did you start and what routine do you follow?
Yoga has transformed my mindset around fitness so much. It is yoga that has taught me to focus on myself, stay within my mat and work on my health. I try to incorporate as many yoga sessions into my daily life as possible. However, I do not always count them as workouts. Over the years, yoga has become more of a habit than a chore to tick off a list. I can sense my body craving yoga movements and usually know when I need it and when I can leave the house without my morning yoga session.
I started doing yoga a couple of years back by following a Yoga with Adriene 30 Day Challenge and fell in love shortly after. About a year ago I elevated my practice and started going to classes, rather than just doing it at home. Now, I like to mix it up. Some days I go to Yin, Power or Balance Yoga classes. Others I start the day with a 20-minute yoga stretching session. If you want to give Yoga a go I would highly suggest going to classes, though. If you find a good teacher it can really transform your mindset and fitness in no time. That’s what I love so much about yoga. Yoga is not just working out. It challenges your beliefs, helps you get in touch with your authentic self and gives you time off.
photos: Jasmin Schönfelder