One of the most difficult parts of a gym routine can be getting one started. Building new habits can be hard, and going to the gym is no exception. Especially if it’s for the first time.
On a weekly, or maybe even daily basis, I hear something like, “I need to get back into the gym but just can’t seem to make myself go.” Many people struggle with knowing how to start going to the gym in the first place.
So, I wanted to offer some advice to people struggling to start going to the gym right now. Here are five easy steps to start going to the gym and building a gym habit! This will not be a quick start, but it is one of the best ways to make a long-term habit if the gym stresses you out!
Do you need motivation so start going to the gym?
Before I launch into the steps, please consider one thing. Why do you want to go to the gym? Challenge that reason by going deeper. Why do you want to accomplish that reason and the next one?
Challenge your reason up to five times to find the deepest purpose. The first thing you always want to do with a personal goal is to give it a meaningful sense to you.
Once you have that deeper reason, ask yourself at what level on a scale from one to ten you are willing to commit to that reason. Is it a ten? Is it the most important thing to you in your life to start going to the gym right now? Are you ready to sacrifice time doing other things that don’t have a deeper purpose for you to start going to the gym?
There is no right or wrong answer, but use this to gauge how much time you should invest into this area of your life. Then consider this every time you feel discouraged or unmotivated by your current habits or results.
If you don’t have a gym membership yet, research which gym near you will suit you the most—no need to get a membership yet. Just pick the one you are going to use for these steps.
If you aren’t an early morning person, don’t force yourself into an early morning routine. If you are stressed about heavy free weights, pick a gym with pieces of equipment you are comfortable with. My point is, don’t make this harder on yourself than it has to be.
After evaluating your reasoning, you may decide that going to the gym isn’t the answer! If home workouts are going to be your thing, check this article out!
Step 1: Drive to the gym, turn around, and go home.
The best way to start a big habit when unmotivated is one small step at a time. This also gets you to step away from what you are doing to go to the gym.
The whole “go home” bit is entirely up to you; you might drive there and be motivated to work out for the first time just because you took the first step. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t, though!
When you learned to walk, you did so by learning to crawl, stand up, then take one step. You didn’t just get up and go. Besides, if you don’t tell anyone: no one will know you did it! When you are comfortable, take the next step, but don’t make just driving to the gym your habit.
BONUS TIP: You don’t need to do these every day. If your goals only require you to go three times a week, you can start going to the gym one day and work up from there.
Step 2: Sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes.
This will enforce the habit of setting aside time dedicated to the gym. You are making it easier to manage your time once you start going to the gym regularly (unless you are anything like me, nothing will help you manage your time).
Take something that you enjoy doing to kill time. Try to make it enjoyable instead of just sitting in the car bored! Know someone else who wants to get started at the gym? Involve them and have someone to talk to while you sit. Having a buddy may even motivate both of you to get started sooner!
Once again, when you are ready to go in for the first time: move to the next step.
Step 3: Go inside the gym.
Now is time to take probably the most uncomfortable step of them all. Don’t stress it, though. It is very likely the awkwardness of this step will motivate you to stay and do something instead of walking in and then just walking back out to the car. If you don’t have a membership, this is your opportunity to get one!
If you are uncomfortable with people and don’t have a buddy, take some headphones and music you enjoy. Alternatively, if you are comfortable with people: try talking to the gym staff. Maybe have them show you around the gym and explain the pieces of equipment! This is also a great way to get acquainted with the gym you will be attending.
I’m assuming you won’t want to do this more than once, maybe twice (if I’m wrong: don’t feel bad about it, everyone has things they are uncomfortable with). Then you can move on to the next step!
Step 4: Do something easy in the gym for 20 minutes.
This doesn’t even necessarily have to be associated with your goal. Pick something that will be the most comfortable for you. It may be cardio; it may be free weights; it may be yoga.
Regardless of what you do the first time, you are just getting used to exerting some energy in the gym (NOT wearing yourself out). This step might take longer than the others. It would be best if you didn’t burn yourself out when you take this step by taking on more than you were ready for.
Depending on the commitment level you considered at the top of the article, it would not be unreasonable for this step to take you a couple of weeks or even a couple of months. However, when you are ready to take the final step to start going to the gym, move on to step five.
Step 5: Start the training program that will get you the results you want.
You’re off to a great start! You took one of your short-term goals and broke it down into small achievable levels. Now that you are going to the gym, you can decide what program to follow to get the results you want.
Not sure what program you need to get the results you want? Remember: weight loss comes from a caloric deficit, so if you are trying to lose weight, here is a place to start.
The training program will burn calories, but it is primarily to achieve health and body goals, not weight goals. Here are some regular workout program options for you starting with the free-est ones first:
- The programs available on this website can provide a great start
- Browse the internet for other programs
- Contact me directly on my Instagram @doug.grows and I will help you
- Download a training app if you know the type of program you need (Joe Bennett has a great one)
- Use an online coach
- Use a personal trainer at the gym
Bonus: Want even faster results? Subscribe to this blog down below the article! Okay… it might not affect your results, but it was worth a shot, right?
You might also be interested in: How to be Successful at the Gym and Everywhere Else or Anaerobic VS Aerobic Exercise-Which One Is Better?
Warning: One word of advice, don’t get into a “reward” habit that involves food. This is a very common struggle with people who start going to the gym. “I worked out so I deserve this treat.” If you are trying to lose weight, most reward foods will contain more calories than the average workout and will be detrimental to your results. Don’t do that to yourself after such a great start!
14 Tips to Keep Going to the Gym
For a successful long-term fitness plan, you need to stay motivated by making some healthy changes in your life. So give yourself some time to adapt and follow these:
- Keep a positive mindset about the gym, don’t let it become a chore.
- Make small changes in your daily routine that are more active, like parking further away from your destination. This will help you see more consistent results after you start going to the gym.
- Find a diet that supports your goals and is easy to maintain with your lifestyle.
- If you need to change your routine, take small steps like you did to start going to the gym.
- Unfollow the Instagram models. They tend to discourage most people and can create unrealistic or unhealthy goals.
- Keep track of the meals that met your goals and were enjoyable so you can use them again.
- Limit the scale usage to once a week or even once every two weeks. Change takes time, and constantly weighing can be discouraging.
- Take monthly progress photos to look back on when you need the motivation to keep going.
- If you get stuck with your goals, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Talk to a trainer or join in on our community here.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you are trying to beat is your past self.
- Share your success with your friends to keep motivation and motivate others.
- Reward yourself with cheat meals after a week or two of training (not daily).
- Connect with others who have similar goals!
- Identify the triggers that cause you to stress eat or skip the gym so you can avoid them or work around them.
If you found this guide useful leave a comment or share with your friends who want to start going to the gym!