We all have different motivators to be healthier. Maybe you’ve had a particularly decadent week, or realize your favorite piece of clothing is a little snugger than you’re used to. Perhaps you’re embracing the benefits of exercise on mental health, physical health, or your doctor has asked you to shift a couple of pounds. Perhaps you’re just bored of being sedentary and want to set yourself a challenge.
You put on some gym clothes that have been used exclusively for pajamas thus far and drag yourself to the gym. Then, the magic happens - running high on endorphins you find yourself exclaiming that you love this, you’re going to work out every day, you’re a changed person, this is it! The new you!
But once the endorphins are spent and the muscles are tired, the sofa beckons. Soon enough, a week has passed and your gym shoes are still in the doorway where you left them. Some people love to exercise. For others, it can be more of a challenge to keep going. Whether you’re too busy, too exhausted, or just straight up don’t like exercise, there are ways to get yourself moving and enjoy the many extraordinary health benefits that regular exercise has to offer – the key is to find what works for you.
Here’s a couch potato’s guide, from one exercise-shy individual to another. Remember, once you build up that base level of fitness, it really does get a lot more enjoyable to get out and move your body!
1. Shake it up
The number one reason for people to dislike exercise is boredom. Running the same old concrete route around your neighborhood, or spending half an hour staring into space on a cross-trainer, will NEVER be fun if you’re not exercise’s biggest fan. Make a list of all the different classes you can take in your area, and start trying them out! Bonus points for: Hula hooping, circus training, ultimate Frisbee, and zorbing.
A friend of mine does aerial silks, which not only gives her amazing abs but is also a great conversation starter. Try something you’d not normally go for – if you’re a girly girl, try kickboxing or bouldering, or if you’re into soccer, try an individual sport like Zumba or dance. Give it a few chances, and if you’re not a fan, move on to the next. The key is to think of it as entertainment, rather than a chore.
2. Make it a joint venture
Get a friend/partner/child to join you in your adventures. Not only will you have someone to laugh with when you’re initially terrible at this new sport, but you will also keep each other accountable – not to mention, you can embrace your competitive side and bring more to your workout
3. Get adventurous
Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a sweaty gym! Take a class kayaking, rock climbing, sailing or snowboarding. Here on the West coast, you’re completely spoiled for choice on outdoor activities. Take your bike off of the valley trail and into the real stuff! Just make sure if you’re trying a new extreme sport that you’re with someone who knows both what they’re doing and how to teach you – best to take a few lessons before you dive in headfirst. We suggest Whistler Blackcomb’s ladies’ nights or WORCA’s supportive biking network.
4. Take baby steps!
One of the biggest mistakes, when people start new exercise routines, is to start too hard and end up ‘failing’ and quitting. Everyone tends to be a little optimistic to begin with. Make sure your goals are easily attainable, even on a busy or a rough week. You can always build it up if you start too low – and it’s a great feeling when you do - but if you start too high you’re likely to throw in the towel. Don’t beat yourself up if you skip a workout – just reiterate your commitment to keeping going.
5. Get competitive
Nothing keeps you on track like a bit of healthy competition. You can compete with friends, but it’s also very useful to compete with yourself. Record your race times, try and beat your personal bests, or conquer each scary new challenge one at a time. Give yourself healthy rewards – a new bath bomb, a shopping trip, leaving the laundry until tomorrow and making a big photo collage – when you beat your scores.
6. Join a sports team
And dive head first into the social side of things. Often, sports teams or clubs become much more than just exercise, and with other reasons motivating you to go, such as catching up with good friends, the looming dread of exercise will end up fading.
7. Sort out your soundtrack
Make a killer new playlist, download some podcasts and audiobooks or documentaries – if the call of a social life isn’t enough to drag you onto the field/track/treadmill/skis, some decent entertainment whilst you’re doing it will keep the stoke levels up.
8. Quit the excuses, not the sport
We can give you endless tips, but really, it’s going to take practice in self-discipline, too. Find a level that works for you, and make sure you stick with it. When it’s time to go, don’t give yourself time to protest – just go. Getting out of the door is three-quarters of the battle. Don’t let yourself get slack, and if you mess up, try and figure out what led you to. If your workout regime is too hard, make it easier. If you have no time, reorganize your priorities – your health is your biggest asset. Don’t neglect it!
It takes a while to get into a routine, but from one couch potato to another, I promise you can get there. What initially seems like hell on a stick, can after a little while become really fun, and the pain barely felt. You’ll feel your day to day energy soar, your moods stabilize, and that general feeling of ‘meh’ will start to dissipate and leave room for a vibrant, healthy-feeling you. There’s every reason to get stuck head first into a long-lasting habit of exercising, so keep it fun, keep it fresh, and enjoy the results!