How to start exercising when you feel out of shape

With busy lives, we so often find that exercising gets pushed to the bottom of our priority list along with that ‘me’ time we’ve been promising ourselves we’ll have for months.

Once you’ve got out of the routine of exercising for a while forcing yourself to walk back through the gym doors can be really nerve wrecking!

This article provides you with some tips to help you get back into exercising and feel confident whilst doing so.

1. Find an exercise that works for you

When getting yourself into an exercise routine, it’s important to find an exercise you enjoy and feel comfortable doing!! Many people think to make an impact to their bodies and lose weight, they need to hit the treadmill at 100mph but this isn’t the case. Any exercise that gets you up and moving is beneficial to you when done right. Finding an exercise that suits your current fitness level, and that you enjoy, will help you feel comfortable and stick with exercising long term.

Often people find themselves out of shape due to an injury, or physical condition that makes exercising seem like an impossible task. In these cases, low impact exercise like swimming can really help.

We sometimes assume that we need to hit the gym in order to exercise and lose weight. And although we’d advocate that a gym is a good environment to help motivate you, it’s not essential. There are plenty of other things you can do by yourself, for example you could take up jogging, or walk round local beauty spots. Or why not bring out your old bike from the back of the garage and get cycling!

If you feel out of shape, gym classes can feel a bit daunting. It’s easy to assume that your fitness level will be too low to keep up or you’ll just stick out as the one person that doesn’t know what to do, but that isn’t the case. Almost all gym classes are adapted for different people’s fitness levels, whether that means going at a slower pace or doing alternative exercises, there will be ways to customise the class to work for you. Nobody’s ever an expert in their first class, so you’ll be surprised to see just how many people are in the same boat as you.

Working with a personal trainer can also be really useful if you’re just starting out. Having someone who can teach you the right way to exercise, will not only benefit you physically, but can also help you feel like you can walk in the gym and know what you’re doing. It can also help you discover exercises you may never have heard of and you might find a form of exercise you love!

2. Finding the right kind of gym for you

Many people find joining a gym helps motivates them. However with every gym comes a different atmosphere and it’s important to find the right gym for you.

Independent local gyms often have a ‘family’ feel to them, as they tend to be smaller and everyone quickly gets to know the regular gym goers. Many people find this comforting and if you want a gym where you feel supported, this is the kind of environment that will probably suit you best.

Sport centres tend to be popular with those who want a low cost option, or those who want access to wide variety of services. For example, if you have a membership with one of the current local sports centres you can access their gym along with tennis courts, badminton, lessons, kids lessons, kids summer camps, the pool and much more. Using a sports centre is the convenient option for those who are already registered or use other facilities within them already.

Chain gyms or health clubs tend to suit those looking for a luxury gym with a range of facilities. These gyms provide a wide range of activities and often have pools, spas and kid’s crèches within one place. However, their memberships tend to be more expensive, and not all members have full access to their gym at all times, so this is something to watch out for. As well as being more expensive, their large company mind set means it can lack that family feeling and supportive atmosphere.

Deciding on a gym really depends on what you’re personally looking for, however if you’re a bit nervous and unsure, trying out one of your local gyms can be a great place to start.

3. How to feel comfortable and prepared at the gym

A big part of feeling comfortable and confident comes from feeling prepared! Making sure you have everything you could possibly need to work out, can help you feel more relaxed, however you don’t want to turn up with a suitcase full of items so identifying what you’ll need beforehand is key!

Consider taking the following items with you:

Headphones – Whether its wireless or wired headphones, it’s important to find your head space in the gym and wearing headphones is a great way to raise your energy and keep motivated through your exercise programme.

Water bottle – Most gyms have a water fountain and you can refill when desired.
It’s important to pack a water bottle especially when you’re planning a high impact cardio class. You might want to try electrolyte tablets when tackling tough workouts to replace the essential salts you lose when sweating.

Deodorant– To keep yourself feeling fresh!

Notebook or Fitness Tracker– Keeping track of your gym sessions can be really rewarding as you can see your progress and just how much you are improving.

What to wear to the gym

Making sure you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing can also help you feel more relaxed at the gym. If you look the part, often you feel the part.

Wear something comfortable and breathable like a t-shirt/vest with a pair of joggers/leggings or shorts depending on how warm it is. Remember you can always layer so that as you get warmer with exercise you can remove your outer layers. If you are nervous about the way you look wearing; loose clothing such as baggy black t-shirts or joggers can make you feel less self-conscious.

You will need a good pair of footwear that feels comfortable and supportive during your chosen exercise. Make sure to invest in a pair of sports trainers rather than ‘fashion trainers’ as they are designed to support you and don’t wear out quite so quickly!

4. Make sure you have support

It’s so easy to feel like you’re alone in struggling to exercise. Walking into a gym for the first time in a while, can have you thinking everyone is a toned goddess leaving you feeling completely out of your depth.But try and remember almost everyone feels nervous doing something new! We all have to start somewhere, and nobody is judging you.

However, even with remembering that, we know many people feel anxious to start the gym. It is a good idea to see if your gym offers classes for nervous people, this will allow you to be surrounded by others in your situation and can immediately help you feel that you’re not alone.

If your gym doesn’t offer a classes or support for nervous new comers, the best thing you can do is grab a friend and drag them along with you! Working out with friends or your partner can be the best opportunity to spend time together and push your performance.
Joining in with an exercise class is also a great way to progress amongst a group and seeing everyone working hard is a huge motivation to keep going.

You could also look for a training partner at your local gym by reaching out to others who train regularly or asking one of the gym instructors if they know of anyone who may like a partner. If you feel out of shape, having someone who works at the same level exercising alongside you, can make you feel much less self-conscious.

5. Having the right mind-set

It’s not only our physical ability we have to work on but our mental attitude too. Over thinking, talking ourselves in and out of exercise can create lots of anxious thoughts. For example, “Don’t think I can do this, what happens if I fail?’ “Is everyone staring at me?” These kinds of thoughts are de-motivating but it’s important to remember just because we can’t do what we used to, doesn’t mean we won’t get back there again. Think positive and take that first step.

In summary…

Taking that first step is always the hardest. But it only takes 21 days to make a habit, so the sooner you start on your new fitness venture, the sooner it will feel like second nature. Exercise isn’t supposed to be scary, and once you get back into it you’ll most likely find yourself enjoying it. See it as an opportunity to meet new people and the time will fly by as you tackle you challenges together.

The body transformation you’ve been dreaming about is within your control so why not take the leap, pop in and see what your local gym has to offer and get active today.