By Ella Hatfield
Lifting weights doesn’t have to be your entire fitness solution.
Did you know that there are many fit people who don’t enjoy lifting weights five days a week—myself included?
Becoming healthy and fit is a thrilling journey full of goals, challenges, and experimentation. Keep reading to find a workout routine you actually love—so you can stay committed to your fitness goals.
Are you struggling to stay committed to a workout routine? You’ve probably been surfing the Internet for days, weeks, even months, and you’ve seen way more workout tutorials than you can keep track of. You’ve tried several—and maybe even enjoyed a few—but you’re struggling to stay consistent.
Well, that’s because most workout instructions are solely focused on the physical aspects of fitness. The most challenging part of getting fit has nothing to do with physical strength; it’s actually developing the proper mindset that will keep you going. Plus, most exercise routines online are specifically around weight lifting and strength training, which can be important elements of getting fit, but they are not the only way to do it.
So, I’ve revamped this approach to getting started on your fitness journey. I’m setting out what you need to develop a proper fitness mindset, as well as some different workout styles for every body and personality.
Lifting weights seems to work for a lot of people; it just doesn’t for me! And that can be a good thing. Heavy lifting can be really hard on your body and end up actually hurting your health instead of developing it. I do not enjoy going to the gym five days a week, doing basically the same motion over and over again. It feels pointless and doesn’t entertain my mind. I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything each workout, and since it takes months to see results, it’s hard to feel motivated to keep coming back.
Amazingly, I’ve been able to go 17 years of being an athlete without lifting weights consistently. I’ve actually used calisthenics for most of my strength training, so no gym needed. Plus, the way I do calisthenics is in an environment that’s fun and exciting for me, so it doesn’t even feel like working out at all.
I will say that strength training is an important element of getting fit, and that might occasionally include using machines and weights. Lifting simply doesn’t have to be your entire fitness solution—it’s only one (small) piece of the pie.
You don’t have to commit to a hardcore workout routine to start your fitness journey because there are a lot of mild exercises you can do a few times a week in the beginning. To set yourself up for success, give yourself realistic workout goals that you know you can hit and maintain—and raise that bar of expectation over time.
One great workout to get started with is speed walking. Yes, walking! Speed walking is fantastic because it has so many health benefits, and it’s much easier on your joints than running. When walking at a brisk pace, you are burning calories; creating blood flow and circulation; working your muscles; and getting oxygen through your body! As a result, speed walking can help you lose weight, and reduce your chances of high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s right, walking. But it does have to be at an accelerated pace to get all the juicy health benefits just mentioned. I know you can do it, you know you can do it—so get to it!
Here’s a quick walking schedule to implement into your routine:
Monday: 30 minutes of speed walking.
Wednesday: 45 minutes of speed walking.
Friday: 30 minutes of speed walking.
As you get in shape and create more time for your health, you can increase these times over the course of a few weeks. Your goal is to walk at least 1 hour every day you work out, and, eventually, add a fourth and fifth day of speed walking into your week. You can check out some more of the badass health benefits here: https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/power-walking#benefits.
Sports are actually really fun if you find people at your experience level.
When was the last time you tried a new sport with other adults who were also newbies? I get it, many people didn’t enjoy sports in school, and most absolutely despised PE class. You need to recognize that was a very different sports environment for several reasons:
- Everyone was insecure, and as a result many people were looking for individuals to put down.
- Sports clubs are incredibly competitive at this level because kids have already been competing in the sport for years and are potentially looking for scholarships.
- Maybe you were forced to “try new things” by your parents and somehow ended up at track practice, which was not your forte.
So, let me ask again: When was the last time you tried a new sport? Yeah, probably not since middle school, right?! There are tons of places that have adult beginner sports programs where you’ll meet other like-minded folks who are looking to get in shape and not be criticized in the process. Having a group setting with other friendly individuals will be monumental in having a positive workout experience and in keeping you motivated to come back.
New Workout Ideas for Different Bodies and Personalities
- For the quiet, independent folks just starting their fitness journeys, we have hiking and backpacking. Hiking is a great way to step up your speed walking game! Navigating through hills, rocks, and higher elevations has great benefits for your muscles and joints, as well as your respiratory system. Plus, you’ll likely want to hike for even longer than your speed walk because the natural environment is so alluring and immersive.
- Have you ever tried Top Golf? It’s actually fun! Golf is a great sport for beginners because it gets you outside and moving your muscles, while doing something entertaining so it doesn’t feel like working out! Plus, it can be a great time both in a group setting or on your own.
- Swimming at your local pool, recreation center or gym can be a great way to have some alone time. Swimming is one of the best workouts for your entire body, and it’s amazing for your joints.
- For people who appreciate the social support of a team dynamic there is yoga. It is another top-tier workout because it is easy on your body, but can build your strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga also keeps your joints happy and healthy over time. You can always just google yoga tutorials for beginners and do them at home, but finding a yoga class with an instructor and other people you like is really exciting because it will keep you coming back.
- Soccer! Okay, maybe I’m a little biased here (I’ve played soccer for 17 years.) but the truth is, soccer is a great sport for beginners because you don’t really need any prior training to play. Literally, anyone can run around with people and kick a ball. And, in the right environment, this can be a lot of fun—even if you’ve never played before. There are many people at my indoor soccer place who started playing in their 30s, 40s or 50s and, after only a year or two of playing, they’re now among the best players on the team. You might already know the amazing health benefits of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout like soccer, but I’m still going to tell you about them:
- You burn a lot of calories in a very short amount of time.
- Your metabolism continues to speed up for hours after you finish working out.
- HIIT workouts increase your body’s oxygen consumption and can reduce your resting heart rate and blood pressure. Check out more detailed descriptions of the benefits here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit#benefits.
- For outgoing people who want to try something exhilarating and new: rock climbing. There are many indoor rock climbing gyms, or beginner classes for outdoor rock climbing. Here’s some classes offered by REI all over the country: https://www.rei.com/events/55/introduction-to-outdoor-rock-climbing-class
- Kayaking and paddle boarding are surprisingly easy for beginners and a fantastic upper body and core workout. Nonetheless, rivers can be extremely dangerous, even in really low waters. If you will be kayaking or paddle boarding in a river, you need to do your first sessions with a professional river guide or instructor.
- Axe throwing is a fun way to spend the evening with friends while also doing something productive for your body. It will work out your upper body and core muscles, and can be a physical outlet for stress relief.
This is just a small list of possible workout techniques. If you try some of these and they don’t work for you analyze, “Why didn’t I like this?” Was it because it was new and challenging and you’re not very good at it yet? Or was it because you don’t like some of the core dynamics of the activity, such as whether it was a team or independent setting, a HIIT vs. a moderate intensity workout? Really dig deep into this. There are a million excuses you can come up with for why a workout isn’t right for you.
The most important thing is to give a new workout technique your best shot. You need to try something out for at least a month before moving on to something else. Why? Because when the month is over you’ll be a lot better at it, you’ll start having some health gains, and you’ll probably have a few new friends, all of which will inspire you to keep going.
It is phenomenal that you are investigating new workout methods and investing time into your health. For that, I commend you—seriously! You’ve taken the time and energy to learn about improving your health and fitness, something a lot of people don’t do during their entire lives.
Now it’s time to put preparation into action. Your health and happiness are in your hands. No one can make you take action but you. Now get out there, try something new, and give it your best shot!
Ella Hatfield has been an athlete for over 17 years and was lucky enough to be raised by a mother with incredible health awareness. These experiences, as well as her own determination and research, have led Ella to developing the knowledge, discipline, and methodology required to continue living a fit and healthy lifestyle for life, and the determination to share that methodology with the world so others can take control of their health, their happiness, and their long-term success. Contact Ella by email at TheArticulateAthlete@gmail.com.