“Press Any Key to Start” – Strategies for Starting Exercise

One of your friends of FaceBook is looking better and better in every picture they post. Another friend has started a fitness account on Instagram and is always talking about “the grind” and “#motivation.” You’re seeing it everywhere – people taking charge of their health and fitness and you’re ready to do it yourself. You’re ready to start working out.

Of course, you have questions and concerns about the best way to go about doing it.

  • “Should I go to a gym or workout at home?”
  • “What exercises should I be doing?”
  • “I feel really uncomfortable when I walk into the gym. Like, everyone is judging me.”
  • “I don’t have time to workout 5x a week, I’ll wait until I have time.”
  • “What supplements should I be taking?”

In this article we are going to address all of these questions/concerns so that you can confidently start working out and building your healthy life.

Put Your Money where Your Mouth Is

First thing’s first. You have got to make some sort of investment in yourself. Think of it as betting on yourself that you’ll actually stick with the whole working out thing. You are, quite literally, putting your money where your mouth is.

The easiest and most effective way to do this is to get a gym membership. When I first started I found the cheapest gym within a mile-wide radius that was also open 24-hours a day (I had a weird work/sleep schedule at the time). What I found was this small little storage shed sized gym with minimal, but decent, equipment. It wasn’t glamorous and there were certainly nicer gyms in town but this one got the job done. You certainly don’t need to get the most expensive option, but you do need to invest in your resolve to start this new journey.

If there isn’t a gym in your town (Hi Alaskans!) then you can invest in yourself by buying some good equipment. Similar to investing in a gym membership you don’t need to go with the most expensive option. If you’re outfitting your own home gym start with some weight-adjustable dumbbells, a jump rope, and some kettlebells – that should be enough to cover some basic exercises.

”Can I just work out at home until I feel comfortable enough to go into the gym?”

Keep in mind that the home-gym option is less than ideal for getting started with exercise. You should go with this route if the travel time to the nearest gym is ridiculous, but you shouldn’t do it if you’re just intimidated by going into the gym. Overcoming that intimidation is a critical part of your investment in yourself.

Getting past the uncomfortable feeling of feeling like the outsider in your gym definitely seems like it is easier said than done, however in practice it only takes a few gym sessions before you start feeling a lot more comfortable. Here are a few tips that can help make you feel more comfortable in the gym when you’re starting out:

  1. Avoid Busy Times – The easiest way to do this is go in the morning, late at night, or some time between lunch and 5 pm. After work is the busiest time.
  2. If you’re uncomfortable doing something, ask one of the staff for help/an explanation. That’s why they’re there and it can be immensely helpful.
  3. Do a bit of people watching – you’ll realize everyone is focused on themselves and is rarely watching you, or judging you. People are there for themselves, they don’t care what you are doing.
  4. Realize that most of the people in the gym don’t really know what they’re doing either. Seriously, most people have a general idea of what they need to do but a lot of them aren’t much more confident than you in what they are doing.
  5. The guy that gives you unwanted advice? It’s not because you’re that bad – he’s just an egomaniac.

Starter Workouts

I want you to think of a time you were at your computer and you saw the prompt “Press Any Key To Start.”

Now think about that moment from the point of view of the computer. The computer is ready to get started, but it needs something to trigger it to go. It does not matter what gives it that little push. All that matters is that little push comes from anything.

In the case of going to the gym it’s very similar except now you are the computer from the example above. What you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as simply doing something. If you’re looking to start your fitness journey and you’re looking for the best advice so that you do it all right, here’s that advice:

Just start.

Do whatever is in front of you.

See someone else doing something interesting? Try that.

Messed something up? That’s okay, you’ve learned something new.

Didn’t like something? You’ve figured out that there are things you like and don’t like.

Embrace this freedom. Eventually you’ll need more structured workouts but for now you can essentially do whatever you want. There are some general tips you should follow (below) but they’re very open-ended. You should feel like you have the freedom to experiment with whatever exercise looks interesting to you, or maybe not try something that you disliked in your last training session. If you’re the kind of person that just hates exercise you may find some sort of training during this time that you actually enjoy! Find the sort of training that you enjoy and dive deep into it!

General Guidelines for Beginner Workouts

  • Start with an Upper/Lower Body Workout Split – Essentially alternate upper and lower body focused workouts every gym session.
  • Go to the gym at least 2x per week but no more than 5x per week.
  • Keep your workouts under 75 minutes each, including warm up and cool down.
  • Don’t dedicate to a strict program until you’ve been training for at least 6 months.
  • Don’t worry about doing the “right” or “best” exercises for what you’re trying to do. You’ll figure those out with time, but for now the best exercises to reach your goals are ANYTHING!

”What Supplements do I Need?”

None. You do not Need any supplements. They are meant to supplement your nutrition and are certainly not necessary by any means. That being said there are two supplements that can help you build more excitement for your workouts, and recover better – Preworkout and Protein Powder, respectively. Below are my recommendations for basic supplements, click the pictures to be buy. Note: These links are affiliate links and purchasing these supplements through these links helps support the blog!

Pulse by Legion Athletics

Whey+ Protein By Legion Athletics

Thrive Vegan Protein by Legion Athletics


Don’t be a perfectionist

I can’t tell you how many times I see someone that’s brand new to training and eating better take the stance that they are going to workout every day and eat nothing but chicken and rice. Of course they fail, that sounds like a miserable plan and no one wants to stick with it. But then, every time they think about getting in shape they think “Oh, things are too busy to workout everyday and cook all those meals. I’ll wait till things are more perfect.”

Perfect is Never Going To Happen.

If you’re waiting for things to be ideal before you take action, you’re never going to do a damned thing in your life. Telling yourself you have some “perfect” plan that’s just waiting for some “perfect” opportunity is just another excuse.

So throw “perfect” out the window. Meet the blue collared alternative – “Good Enough.”

  • The Perfect Mindset says “I don’t have an hour for the gym tonight, I’ll just skip it.”
  • The Good Enough Mindset says “I only have 20 minutes, guess I’ll do some speed squats and lunges.”
  • The Perfect Mindset says “I already ruined my week by eating pizza last night, might as well have fried chicken tonight.”
  • The Good Enough Mindset says “Well, the pizza last night set me back but I’m back on track for today.”
  • The Perfect Mindset is immaturity, impatience, and unrealistic.
  • The Good Enough Mindset is mature, patient, and realistic.

What if I need more help?

Going from completely uninitiated to regular gym-goer is the subject of my book “From the Ground Up.” Overcome the crippling insecurity you feel when you walk into the weight room by learning common gym terms, learning basic movement exercises, and how to translate these basic exercises into more advanced gym exercises. This book covers all that in Part I. The remaining 3 parts of my book will teach you how to continue building your healthy lifestyle and maintain it with ease.