Beginning a workout routine is one of the best decisions you can make for your life. Exercise and engaging in regular physical activity support every aspect of our health and wellness. The cardiovascular system, respiratory health, bones, joints, muscles, mental health — the list of things that are improved by making movement and motion a regular part of life is astounding.

But exercising is like anything else and beginner errors are part of the process. Keep in mind that there’s no shame here. Mistakes are part of learning, but to grow we need to recognize those mistakes. So here, in no order of importance, are some of the common missteps we’ve seen a lot of people — including ourselves — make when they’re getting started with a fitness routine.

1. No Plan

By far, one of the easiest missteps is starting without really having a plan. Go to the gym, walk on the treadmill for a while, do some curls, leave. Go on days you feel like it when you have time. After the day’s other obligations subside. Sound at all familiar? It happens.

The trick is to look at exercise with the same importance as anything else. Plan it out and schedule it into your day. When are you doing it? Where are you doing it? How are long are you allocating? What activities will you be taking part in? Are you doing it alone or with a partner or trainer (more on that later)? Put it on the calendar and make it happen.

2. Too Much Too Soon

We’re not the type to look down on excitement or enthusiasm when it comes to physical fitness. So, if you’re eager to get down to business and make fitness a regular and consistent part of your life, we support that completely. Special emphasis on a couple of the words “regular” and “consistent.”

Just remember when you’re first starting that it’s going to be tough to get Friday’s workout in if you’re still sore from Wednesday’s routine. Begin with a lower intensity and let it grow a little bit with each workout. Some soreness is normal but if you can’t move or it’s affecting your life, ease up a bit.

3. Ignoring Diet

There’s a saying that abs are made in the kitchen, gym. Now, not everyone cares about having ripped abs and that’s totally fine. But it serves to illustrate the point that diet is a key factor in the types of results we can achieve from exercise. Whether it’s blood pressure numbers on a test or how your favorite pants fit, you’re going to get the best results when your diet aligns with and supports your fitness goals.

How to create the best diet is an individualized process that depends on what you want to accomplish, your food preferences, allergies and sensitivities, and all that stuff. But, in general, a diet that’s rich in whole healthy foods like vegetables and fruit is going to be good. Consume clean sources of protein, whether plant-based or animal. Go low on the refined sugar, alcohol, saturated fats, and the like.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

When you’re lifting weights or doing the WOD or otherwise working out, that is not when your muscles are growing. Rather, those activities stress your muscle so it’s ready to grow later when it’s recovering. One of the things that helps you recover is good nutrition, which is why we talked about diet. The other thing that supports recovery is rest — specifically, sleep.

All of us need good, consistent sleep every night. Seven to nine hours will cover it for most people. But if you’re an athlete or have fitness goals you’re working toward, it’s essential that getting enough sleep every night is part of your daily routine. Shut everything down, turn the lights out, put the phone down, close your eyes, and drift off to sleep. Your body and mind will both appreciate it.

5. Going At It Alone

How does the song go? We get by with a little help from our friends? That sentiment takes many forms in life, including in the gym (or wherever you work out). Now, there’s nothing wrong with solo workouts. They can be phenomenal and if you’ve ever been in that zone or get there often, you know how awesome that intense feeling of focus can be. If that’s you, rock on.

But if you’re just getting started and you want the motivation and accountability that comes with having someone, or someones, by your side, do it! Join a class, enlist a friend who is also interested in making a positive change in their life, hire a personal trainer who you must schedule time with — whatever your flavor, do it. The research is clear that people who exercise with others generally have better results.

Get Fit With Us At Rhapsody Fitness

Are you just starting your fitness journey and looking for a place to call home? Maybe you want to get around an excellent group of people whose energy you can feed from and contribute to. Or maybe you just want the best facility in the Charleston, West Virginia area. Whatever your fitness pursuit and wherever you’re at, we’d love for you to join us. Training, classes, coaching — we got it all. And your first one is free!