The notion of “getting into fitness” can be incredibly daunting. Perhaps you’ve never found a workout style that’s the right fit, or maybe you’ve had a difficult relationship with exercise in the past. And between gyms, personal trainers, yoga studios and the plethora of at-home workouts available, the options can easily become overwhelming for someone who normally doesn’t have a routine.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to launch your personal fitness journey. It begins with challenging some of the societal norms surrounding exercise — like prioritizing how your body feels above all else.
“I find that even programs and classes labeled ‘beginner’ are still catered towards thin, able-bodied folks,” said Jessi Haggerty, a Massachusetts-based personal trainer, registered dietician and certified intuitive eating counselor. She stressed the importance of body positivity within workouts, adding: “I recommend looking for fitness programs and instructors that are inclusive to all sizes, abilities, genders and races.”
Setting and maintaining a routine can often be a barrier for folks when it comes to a consistent workout schedule — but there are ways to reframe that thinking, too.
“Move three times a week for 15 minutes each time,” she said, noting that “movement” can be anything from a structured workout to simply going for a walk. “Maybe after 15 minutes, you’re thinking ‘Oh, this feels great. I’m gonna keep going for a little bit longer.’ Or maybe at the end of 15 minutes, you’re done. But regardless, you showed up for those 15 minutes.”
As you move forward in your fitness journey, it’s important to allow yourself flexibility to make changes.
“Our energy levels ebb and flow and sometimes exercise gets bumped down the priority list,” Haggerty said. “So as you begin creating schedules and setting goals, move forward holding space for your own humanity and have a little self-compassion.”
Fitness artist Nicole Winhoffer noted that, in addition to focusing on physical goals, it’s beneficial to think about your mind and heart as well.
“Before you start your new routine, make sure you set a mental, physical and emotional goal for what you want to achieve,” she said, adding that it’s essential to revisit those goals throughout your entire fitness journey. “Remember your why. Why did you start? What do you want?”
As for choosing a workout, it’s always a good idea to try a variety of exercises to find something that feels right for your body and mind. As Haggerty writes in her blog: “When your motivation to move comes from within, your desire to move comes without strings and you continue to do it because it brings you joy, satisfaction, comfort, or something else you might need in this moment.”
To find out more about specific workouts for kickstarting a new relationship with fitness, we turned to the coaches and trainers themselves. Ahead, you’ll find several recommendations for videos, programs and online classes all with an emphasis on finding joy within movement.
Chrissy King’s #BarbellBadass Program
King’s #BarbellBadass course is a nine-week barbell training regimen designed to empower and strengthen. The $57 package includes 15 full-length videos, over 50 weight training exercises, a programming calendar and a PDF version of each workout so you can take it with you to the gym — or wherever. Before beginning, you’ll need a barbell, plates, dumbbells and a bench.
“The possibilities for what you can do with dumbbells are pretty endless,” King told HuffPost. You can learn more about her program here.
Yoga For Everyone With Dianne Bondy
Bondy’s yoga programs stress the importance of inclusivity, and her Yoga For Everyone classes are perfect for working out on the go via your phone or tablet. As she notes on her website, her course is designed to “empower anyone to practice — regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability.” You can learn more and subscribe for $14.99 a month here.
Decolonizing Fitness aims to provide resources surrounding “non toxic fitness, body liberation, and gender justice.” As the organization’s founder, Ilya Parker, explains further: “I grew fed up of entering movement spaces and seeking the services of fitness coaches who were unable and unwilling to provide me with the affirming support I need, as a trans person in a larger body who also carries chronic injuries and medical conditions,” adding that Decolonizing Fitness was created out of the “needs [of] folks (i.e. fat, trans, queer, people with disabilities, people over 65) who have historically not felt welcomed in fitness spaces.” You can subscribe at various levels through the group’s Patreon, located here.
Simi Botic’s UnMeasured Barre classes are focused on fostering a “joy-filled and healthy relationship with movement.” A membership to her virtual program costs $25 a month and includes exclusive and unlimited access to her library of barre classes, with two new videos released each week. “If you’re new to barre, you can absolutely join us,” Botic, a holistic health coach and intuitive eating counselor, writes on her website. “The classes are created for all levels. Each class will be full of form cues so you know what you’re doing and when. Plus, modifications are offered throughout the classes for you to take as needed.”
NW Church By Nicole Winhoffer
Winhoffer’s method combines physical sculpting with empowering techniques designed to connect you with your emotions and spirit. A subscription, which costs $60 a month, will give you access to weekly classes taught by Winhoffer in her New York studio, which include both toning and dance cardio. “I have designed three special programs for the beginner,” Winhoffer told HuffPost.
On her Instagram, Winhoffer also shares workout videos with her followers, including:
50 Minute Full-Body Workout
6 Moves To Increase Flexibility
15 Minutes Of Dance And Stretch
Moving Mango Pilates
Previously known as Pilates With Hannah, Moving Mango is dedicated to helping folks improve their mental health, posture, breath and muscle strength. Hannah’s YouTube channel is filled with dozens of videos ranging from cardio to stability to stretching, and she encourages clients to listen to their bodies, rest when needed, and move at their own pace.
Roz The Diva
Roz “The Diva” Mays has extensive athletic experience, including strength training and pole dancing, and she offers a variety of subscription packages on her Patreon. Her workout tutorials frequently include both seated and standing positions, and she encourages clients to use household objects as props instead of professional tools and equipment. Mays also offers personal training packages, writing on her website: “I utilize easy-to-execute movements at a challenging, not overwhelming, pace to get clients to the promised land. No diets, no cleanses, no bullsh*t — just sweat.”
This story is part of Don’t Sweat It, a HuffPost Life series on improving your relationship with fitness. We’re giving you a guide to the latest thinking on exercise and why we’ve been conditioned to hate it in the past. Mental health and body-positive fitness experts will also offer guidance and show you how to find a routine that works for you. Find all of our coverage here.