Are you planning to get into a new fitness regime or stepping up your present routine?

The options of physical activity available to us are endless and can leave us feeling spoilt for choice and asking ourselves when and where to begin. Whether you are motivated by a specific goal or a desire for change make sure you check in with yourself first – goals are easier to achieve if you enjoy the journey to your goal.

When beginning with any new physical activity or movement-based class, ask yourselves these three questions to make sure you will both enjoy the experience and be motivated to keep returning after the first session.

What movements or physical activities do I enjoy?

Do not overlook this! Simply jumping into a class without thinking whether it matches our preferences is a certain way to lose interest … quickly. If you want something to last, start at a place you enjoy, and this will help you achieve your goals as you will enjoy getting there.

How fit am I?

Our bodies adapt to the level of physical activity we regularly engage in – we all know that when returning to exercise after an extended break the first sessions are the hardest. Once we stay active our bodies are conditioned accordingly and the initial stress we endure doesn’t linger.

However when we commence a new activity or program it’s helpful to recognise that things will probably feel uncomfortable but know that they will soon improve. This discomfort doesn’t last our bodies are quick to adapt through cardiovascular, muscle, tendon and ligament changes and our mental resilience also begins to build which allows us to carry ourselves through more challenges with less stress.

Matching our fitness levels with an equivalent program is a great way to ease our bodies into working again. Reminding ourselves that it’s a new process and that there will be some discomfort is equally as important as remembering that this will fade as you continue, and be replaced with great feelings and training responses instead.

What are my goals for this activity?

Knowing what we want ensures our efforts are justified and our energies focused in the right direction. Aiming solely for an aesthetic change is going to differ in practice from seeking improved mindfulness, and will again differ from simply looking to improve strength and confidence in our bodies. It’s also worthwhile considering whether we would enjoy the connection of a community activity or would prefer to engage in something more individually.

Physiological changes within the body are highly variable between people but if you can pick a period (a great start would be a month) for review, chances are you will be positively surprised and rewarded for your efforts. Celebrate these improvements. They are positive steps from where you started to where you want to be. Our overall goal is great, but there are many important milestones to achieve and acknowledge before we get there. This is important to remember.

The first steps in making change are often the hardest, but once you’re underway things only get easier.

So, I invite and encourage you to be mindful about your activity choices;

  • Recognise the challenge of the first few sessions and know that it will get easier as your body adapts
  • Acknowledge what activities feel ok and which ones are harder
  • Review your progress – set short terms, small goals and check in how you are going to achieve them

If you’re unsure of where to start or worried about how your body will manage, please feel free to come in for a chat about how to best approach and monitor starting a new movement practice. There is no greater feeling than having a body look and feel the way we’d like. It takes some effort to begin, but as you progress and once you’re there you’ll know it was worth it.

Hiram Brooke

Exercise Physiologist (AEP)

B. Ex Rehab (Hons), M. Clin Ex Phys