We know it can be difficult to get going with things when you’re thinking about embarking on a healthier and more active lifestyle. 

That’s why we’ve put together this article to highlight what we think are the five main things you need to consider upon starting. Your prep, and understanding beforehand will allow you to keep motivated and maintain momentum throughout your journey.

Step 1 –  Assess your level.

You’re probably aware of your current capabilities to a degree, whether that’s your level of struggle climbing the stairs, to how far you walk your dogs on a morning and how long that takes. Fitness is a really specific thing, no amount of cardiovascular work will create a stimulus big enough to get you on your way to lifting the notorious ‘Atlas Stones’, and no amount of strength training alone will provide your body with the required conditioning to run a marathon.

It’s really important to decide what you actually want to achieve through this process. You can’t have a clear direction, if you don’t have a desired outcome.

Step 2 – Design or plan your program.

Designing a program is no easy feat. Take it from us as professionals, however. It isn’t impossible. A program should provide balance, especially in the areas you haven’t had balance before. Something as simple as Monday – Walk, Wednesday – Swim, Friday – Gym, Saturday – Active Recreation is enough of a framework to get you started with this process.

The content of your program will largely depend on the goals you’ve decided leading up to this part of the journey. If you want to focus on resistance training then it is advisable to split your routine down and do different muscle groups on different days to avoid over training injuries.

If you’re looking for something a little more holistic and looking to combine healthy food with good levels of activity its important to consider the types of training you would benefit from. A balanced routine for one goal, may be completely out of whack for another, but as long as you’re doing the right things for the right goal that is the main thing.

There is a lot of hype surrounding ways to train, some are better than others admittedly but this can be a controversial topic. HIIT is perfect for lots of people, of varying ages and abilities but maybe not for people in the early stages of a pregnancy. Luckily for you, we here at Body Planners have a thorough understanding of how to train for your goal, and we’re always here to ask. One last thing. Recovery is not a dirty word when it comes to training. This is the time your body recovers from all of the consistent, and hard work you should have been subjecting it to.

Step 3 – Source your equipment.

Once you’ve decided which way your training is going to go, you need to consider the things that will make it happen, or make it happen easily. I first started training in the front room of an end terrace with a guy known as ‘Mad Frank’. ‘Mad Frank’ was just that, but he had sound knowledge of training from being a lifelong trainer himself. This was in 2003 and tech for training wasn’t really a big think so you didn’t really need that much to get things started, or to get things done. In honesty, you don’t need tech now, but it can help significantly with goal achievement.

Firstly, what are you going to wear to train? We’d always recommend something comfortable, and something that doesn’t restrict your natural movement regardless of how good or bad your ranges of movement are. A good pair of shoes will go a long way, but there are many styles for many sports so it’s always worth seeking advice on this. It is a good idea to remain hydrated throughout training so drinks in the form of carbohydrates (sports energy/ Isotonic drinks) can be considered but if your goal is weight loss, you’ll manage without the calories when it comes to fuelling throughout a workout. A hand towel is always handy if you’re going to be training in a public place such as a gym or studio. It’s just good manners and hygiene, and helps take care of the space and prolongs its life for you and others to keep using.

Obviously, as I said it isn’t 2003 and the Cold War ended a good while ago. Wearable technology in the form of wrist watches are widely available and track basic metrics such as all day heart rate, steps, calorie expenditure and even go on to helping push you through workouts. This is really good for maintaining levels of motivation. Also, with all of the tracking you can easily find out what your daily calorie expenditure is including or excluding exercise, and adapt your nutrition intake to create the best possible outcome as per your requirements. These vary in price, but you do get what you pay for. More money = More functionality!

In 2021, working in a gym is pretty difficult anyway so you’re probably staring down websites in the hunt for prize kettlebells or the odd orphan dumbbell here and there. We’re a big advocate of using free weights for reasons we’ll not go into here, but we do run a training package called BP @ Home, which brings results to you at home! We source and supply the kit you need, the program is taken care of. All you need to do is sign up. Moving On!

Step 4 – Actually Get started.

As I said above, since the first lockdown (whenever that was) our BP @ Home training package has grown in popularity. It is a well rounded program catering for many things. The food is as strict or as relaxed as you would like and most workouts run on a timer so you can work as hard as you feel necessary. If you’re on an off day you can dial it back, if you’re feeling strong you can turn it up to 11! BP @ Home helps people like Emma lose weight, and people like Nicola to manage theirs. It helps people like me to stay fit and healthy for sports, and it’s really good for lengthy sitters like Richard because of the balance it brings back to his muscular skeletal system.

That is one of many options, obviously you’ve got this far, you’ve decided that you’re ready to commit and you’ve got the the program and equipment sorted out, ready to go. The only thing left to do is to start.

We advocate starting easy, and feel your way into this. For many, it can feel kinda alien but the majority of things you’ll experience I dare say would be normal. Achey muscles 24 to 48 hours after when first starting isn’t uncommon, so don’t let this put you off if this happens to you. Simply take an extra day recovery or have a slightly lighter training session (our preferred method) as this will still burn calories and allow blood flow to these tired areas and speed up the recovery. As ever and like I said in the first part of the article, don’t be scared to break things down. This is your journey, do it your way at your pace. Ultimately there will be times where you feel encouraged by others, but in the most part, don’t let outsiders have too much influence on what you have planned for yourself. 

No pain no gain, is true to an extent, but be sensible! I employed the ‘no pain no gain’ approach once and ended up with a broken femur mid shaft, 6 months on the sick and had to learn to walk again! Be sensible and listen to the pain. Try to establish if it is a good or a bad pain.

Step 5 – Monitor your progress

Performance monitoring is pretty important and integral to this entire process. Some of it you’ll actually do as an ongoing thing, but other things soon slip through the net if you don’t keep them in check. A simple way of performance testing is coming up with a string of short assessments that are relevant to what you want to achieve. If you’re looking for all round fitness something as simple as a Maximum Push Up, Sit Up in 60 seconds and a maximum plank, combined with a 500m Row is a good place to start. After four weeks of your program, go back to the test and see if it has worked, and how much you have improved. It is important to repeat the test in the same order, and to the same timescale as the original test.

For other things more specific such as Max HR test or FTP for cyclists, we’d recommend going with somebody, just for safety. Yours.

As I said, some other performance testing you’ll do along the way. It’s natural to know what weight you did for your 3 sets of 10 rep dumbbell chest press, or your 4 sets of 8 rep seated pull down, so each and every time you do those, the previous figures will be hanging there to beat.

Simple things such as weighing yourself and taking girth measurements should just become a matter of procedure if your goal is to get in shape and get healthy, but are often the ones that slip the net. You could be getting stronger, but you could also be getting bigger or heavier, which would actually mean you’re not getting stronger because your mass is increasing. If you lift more weights and lose weight yourself, this is a positive improvement on your strength or power to weight ratio. You could lift more, and be a little heavier and reduce that strength or power to weight ratio and that isn’t good training, so don’t let this measuring protocol slip up.

Bonus Track

Any establishment will tell you how to train. In fact, that’s all most establishments will do. Just like a DVD shop would talk DVDs (whatever they are) and weight loss clubs like diet line or weight bodgers will talk about food. 

On your journey, no matter how significant or insignificant it may seem to some, it obviously means something to you and that is the point others miss. I advise getting away from ‘food’ because that is all it is. Dieting is easy, but you can only win at this if you nourish your body wholly, from quality fresh whole food ingredients. When your body has been broken down from training, it needs building back up and it’s difficult to do this with ‘food’. But using the wearable tech we’ve identified above, and the calorie expenditure it gives you, we can manipulate the macronutrient intake to match the requirement of the body, to optimise the result you’re looking to achieve. One I forgot to mention above is, along with wearable tech, it is worth while using something to track your nutrition intake such as MyFitnessPal (or similar). This will ensure you are fuelling and refuelling your body properly, as opposed to just feeding it, and leaving it to chance. Nutrition equates for 80% of what you can achieve with your body, whether it is composition, performance, health wealth it doesn’t matter. Nutrition is important, and shouldn’t be disregarded.

To summarise this lengthy article up, we’d always advocate seeking professional advice, but aside that it isn’t all that difficult to get going. It’s when you’ve been going a bit and your momentum drops that you need that bit of guidance to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Decide what you want to achieve, and make it realistic. Don’t over reach here, as underachieving will knock your confidence. It’s much more satisfying to start easy, and build up to bigger goals, and more challenges.

Find comfortable gym gear, it doesn’t have to cost the earth, it just needs to serve function for training and not hinder your movement. Once you’ve got all your ducks in a row, start as you mean to go on. Track your training, track your nutrition and test your progress regularly.

For everything else, there’s probably a DVD in that shop I mentioned earlier 😉