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Exercise & Training, Fitness

How to Start Exercising (A Beginner’s Guide to Kickstart)

Written by Tara Mazanec
Master Personal Trainer, Holistic Health Counselor and Yoga Instructor
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Don’t throw in the towel. You can start exercising and get back in shape following a long hiatus, despite work and family responsibilities or challenging life experiences.

Getting back in shape after a long break isn’t easy, but having a simple starting point will help you get and stay fit for good. Whether it’s been a week or a year, remember when you were feeling your best; what were you doing? Having a fond memory to refer to will help give you the nudge you need to get started.

If you are still struggling, you are not alone. I have compiled six simple tools to ensure you start with a great foundation.

First and foremost, get your doctor’s go-ahead to ensure your health is in good shape and you are safe to begin a fitness program. Once you are ready, follow these steps to get you moving and feeling better in your body.

How to Start Exercising And Get Back in Shape

1. Know Where You Are Starting From

You can only know where you are going if you have a good handle on your starting point.

It is easy to get caught up in the memory of how fit you were in your 20s and want to relive it or experiment with the newest trend. But if you have been out of the game for a while, knowing your current fitness level is more beneficial to avoid being overwhelmed and setting yourself up for injury.

Remember a time when you felt your best. What were you doing? Use that as a reminder of what you enjoy. Then adjust it to where you are now. For instance, if you love the rush of a high-intensity spin class, use that as your motivator. Remove yourself from the outcome and work on the small daily skills it will take to get to a level you enjoy now.


Around age 30, our body begins to change. If unused, muscles lose strength, endurance, and flexibility, affecting coordination, mobility, stability, and balance. Combine that with our current sedentary lifestyles, and you may return to your workouts slower than anticipated.

Have compassion and find a routine that works for you, then build as you gain strength and endurance. You are in it for the long haul.

2. Identify Your Daily Obstacles

Today, we have more responsibilities and distractions than ever. Look at what is getting in your way, preventing you from prioritizing your wellness. Having clarity and good time management will help you create and stick to a routine despite life’s chaotic schedules.

Also, review your schedule a couple of times during the week. I like to check mine on Sunday for the upcoming week, then again on Thursday for the weekend. We have more structure with our work schedules and more flexibility over the weekend, so this requires a separate action plan.

Make an appointment on your calendar for workouts as you do for a meeting or personal work. A good rule of thumb is to plan your morning workout, so your responsibilities don’t take over. Prioritizing your fitness will give you the focus and confidence to handle the day-to-day.

3. Understand Your “Why”

Feeling fit, strong, and losing weight are the top three reasons for wanting to get in shape, but is it enough to keep going when life throws you off your routine?


Starting a new habit can be challenging, but thanks to his book Find Your Why, author Simon Sinek created a powerful exercise to encourage inspired action towards a specific goal. Having a strong “why” forces you to get more specific and dig a little deeper to identify the reasons for wanting what you desire, so it helps you stay consistent and disciplined for the long hall.

His example is the Seven Layers of “why.”

Once you have determined the habit you want to change or the goal you want to reach, ask yourself why you want this. Once you have the answer, ask yourself why you want this now. Be as specific as possible, so it evokes a bit of emotion. Keep going with this format until you have asked yourself “why” at least seven times. Follow the link above for further reference.

Perform this exercise on yourself or have a friend help you to be more objective. Uncovering the deep-rooted issues preventing forward momentum is difficult, but perhaps that is precisely what you need to discover your roadblocks.

4. Have a Plan

Decide where you will begin your workout. Do you have access to a gym, or will your routines be done at home?

Once you determine your location, identify the equipment of choice. I like clients to begin with their body weight to learn good form and technique.

The next step is to find the movements you enjoy. Exercise should be fun yet challenging, so you will be encouraged to keep going as you see the changes. The first phase of starting anything new is starting slowly and consistently, then building.



Find a cardio routine you enjoy, such as dancing, walking, jogging, swimming, hiking, or skiing Aim for 10-20 minutes 1-2x a week for two weeks. Once you are consistent, add more time for each workout or another day. Ease yourself in your routine to allow your body to adjust, avoid injury, and prevent burnout.


Strength training is very versatile. Whether you work out at home or the gym, you must have a solid foundation and ensure you are performing each move correctly.

Hiring a qualified personal trainer is a good way to ensure you have an effective programme based on your goals and that you complete the movements safely and effectively. I recommend starting with 10 minutes of strength training once a week, in addition to 1-2 days of cardio on nonconsecutive days.

Stick with that program consistently for 2 to 4 weeks, then revisit your trainer for a new set of exercises that are a progression from the previous routine. You can add more time to your workout or another day.

Remember to always review your schedule to keep things flexible, enjoyable, and applicable to your current life circumstance. It may change, but if you have a blueprint, the chances of you falling off become less and less.

A solid action plan will keep you motivated and committed to your workout, especially if the training is progressive and you begin noticing changes. Here is an example of a progressive bodyweight workout: Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners (The Complete Guide)


5. Mix It Up

After two weeks of consistency, it is time to switch things up to allow the overused muscles, joints, and ligaments to rest and recover.

If you are a runner, add a spin or yoga class to your routine. You will feel different muscles, reignite your momentum, and allow your muscles to heal and strengthen.

Variety also prevents boredom and a weight loss plateau[1]and keeps your body guessing, which will help you progress with your strength and endurance.

6. Remember to Rest

Rest is essential to a well-planned cardio and strength program. When strength training consistently, your muscles make small microscopic tears – don’t worry, it’s okay! You may feel a bit sore following your workout. Soreness is normal and indicates that you’ve “woken up” muscles that haven’t been used in a while and a necessary phase when building strength.[2]

During the rest phase, your muscles repair and strengthen, allowing you to do the same workout with less effort.[3]

Bottom Line

Starting to exercise and getting back in shape doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be challenging to start back up if you have been off your game for a while, but awareness, a plan, and a commitment to moving and feeling better will help you stay focused on rebuilding a solid foundation.


The important thing is to start and keep going regardless of what life throws your way. Start slow and get support; before you know it, you will return to your routine faster than you think.

Keep it fun and switch it up as you get bored or hit plateaus. Remember, no one ever said “I wish I didn’t work out.”

Featured photo credit: Arek Adeoye via unsplash.com


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