This year you resolved, hand on heart, that 2016 was the year you’d get your body in shape and go down a jeans size or two. Problem is, the inside of a gym is the last place on earth you want to be. The words “bootcamp” and “exercise” fill you with dread, and you’d rather stick pins in your eyes than go jogging.
It’s so much easier to curl up on the couch, head buried in a bag of Doritos, and adopt the mañana attitude — tomorrow I’ll start that new fitness regime. Sound familiar?
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Thousands of couch potatoes around the world are feeling the same way. But help is at hand. Whether you go for the Couch to 5k program or Kanye’s workout plan, there’s a multitude of fun, painless (well, almost) ways to start to make fitness a part of your everyday life.
So read on for our tips on how to get off the couch and get into shape. (And, by the way, it’s never too late to start exercising. At the ripe age of 89, Fauja Singh took up running and went on to complete nine full marathons right up to his 100th birthday! Impressive, right?)
1. Find Free Online Workouts
You use the internet to do just about everything else — shopping, dating, banking, etc. — so why not use the internet to exercise? The best part? You don’t have to leave the comfort of your own living room.
There are some great workouts online that suit all ages and fitness levels. And, of course, you can arrange the workout around your other commitments — work, children, whatever. You want to work out at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m.? No problem. Plus, there are no membership fees or binding contracts, so online workouts are a flexible, all-weather get-fit option at the mere click of a button. What’s not to like?
YouTube is a gold mine of great free workouts. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Beginner Cardio: Here’s a 10-minute beginner low impact cardio workout by BodyFit by Amy
- Beginner HIIT: Try out high intensity interval training with this HIIT workout for beginners by Danny’s Workout
- Beginner Pilates: This is part one of a Pilates for beginners video series by The Balanced Life with Robin Long
Each of these YouTubers offer a healthy (ha, see what I did there?) selection of workouts, so you’re bound to find something that piques your interest.
2. Try In-Home Fitness Programs
From Jillian Michaels to Bob Harper to Tony Horton, there are so many trainers who offer in-home fitness programs. Whether you’re looking for beginner cardio, strength training or yoga, there’s an in-home program for you. A great place to start is the Beachbody website, which is totally dedicated to getting you fit through specially designed exercise programs at all levels, from dance routines, kickboxing, Pilates and more. Don’t let titles like “Insanity” deter you; you got this. Beachbody also offers the ability to complement your workouts with meal replacement shakes to accelerate weight loss and fitness.
Bonus tip: Find a friend to start an in-home program with you. There’s nothing more motivating than a friend to help keep you accountable.
3. Build Your Strength and Endurance with an Elliptical or Treadmill
Did you know running or jogging outside is actually more difficult than doing it indoors because of air resistance and uneven terrains? If you’re just getting started, consider trying the elliptical or treadmill.
With an elliptical trainer, you’ll get a low impact workout that puts much less stress on the body than running outdoors or even on a treadmill. It’s a great way to build up your fitness level gradually, especially if you haven’t walked much further than couch to car for a while.
You’ll get a high impact workout on a treadmill. High impact exercise is a calorie-burner; it gets the heart going and strengthens bones and joints. The downside is that it can put a huge strain on the body, so the message here is clear: go easy at first. The last thing you want is an injury that puts you out of action for months.
Of course, you can invest in your own personal equipment and have the convenience of being able to use it whenever you want, but treadmills and elliptical trainers don’t come cheap (average price is $1,000-$1,500), take up a lot of space and, you never know, you may loathe the thing and sulk guiltily around the contraption after you buy it.
So, for what it’s worth, my advice is to try before you buy at a local gym.
4. Learn How to Run a 5K (seriously!)
A fitness regime in the comfort of your own home is not for everyone because there are a million distractions right there. You’d be amazed by how many people suddenly decide to tackle a mountain of ironing or to clean out the refrigerator, chores they normally hate, instead of working out. So getting out and about can be a better option. Going for a 5k run, for example.
You’re kidding, right? Getting up the stairs leaves me breathless and sweaty, you’re thinking. So a 5k? Out of the question.
It seems impossible, but, trust me, it can be done. The secret is to take it slowly. You know the old saying, “don’t run before you can walk?” So true. Building up strength and stamina through walking is the key. Here are a few resources to help you transition from walking to running:
- The Couch to 5k program is like a coach in your pocket that’ll get you running a 5K in just two months
- YouTuber Coach Tief runs the Tips4Running channel with a library full of running resources, including 5K Training Tips for Beginners
- Running on a track works well for new runners because the terrain is flat, and you know exactly how far you’ve run – most tracks are 400 meters (just under a quarter mile). Four times around and you’ve nearly clinched your first mile
The beauty of running is that you can do it almost anywhere. Mix it up by running tracks, sidewalks, parks, beaches, etc. Just pack a pair of running shoes, and you can run wherever in the world you happen to be at a time that suits you.
So there you have it. No more excuses. Online, on the treadmill, on the running track, there’s a fitness option for everyone.
You’ve got nothing to lose except inches off your waistline. What are you waiting for?
Have some beginner fitness tips you’d like to add? Tell us in the comments!
Sam Johnson contributed to this article.