How to Actually Start a Fitness Program

Exercise is effortless for some. They glide through parks, down trails, and along to gyms as if they’ve always been that way. A few are, but I’d bet you’d be surprised that a lot of them adopted this lifestyle, and you can too.

Image by Eric Kilby

Inertia is the devil in this case. The first 30 seconds are crucial! You can buy the cute athletic gear, sign up for a class, take the bike in for a tuneup, all to prepare for your fitness launch, but you need to actually get off your butt to initiate the exercise part. And as we all know, your laptop, your TV, or your great read might be a lot more enticing than the sweating, huffing, puffing, and possible pain that await you.

Tips to get started

  • Schedule it. Put it in your calendar at the very least—you’ll feel horribly guilty if you don’t go.
  • Pay someone to train you. If you hire a trainer you’ll get great advice but that’s not why I’m adding this here. A trainer will still charge you if you blow them off (we’re used to this…) so you’re much more likely to go instead of throwing your money out the window.
  • Remember the long term benefits. Exercise is always the long view while the short view is frequently a lot easier and more pleasurable. Like a smoker putting a picture of his kids in his cigarette pack, find a way to remind yourself of the long term benefits of exercise. Maybe a picture of when you were slim and healthy, or a goal dress you’d like to fit into. Perhaps you can find a reward that you earn as you exercise more and more regularly—say a favorite activity for accomplishing ten runs. Besides, you can always watch TV later.

Let me know your thoughts. I’m interested in hearing how you motivate yourself into a fitness plan so you too can be the envy of others as you glide through your workouts!

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson runs her own successful fitness blog at Lisa Johnson Fitness and is frequently seen hanging around Twitter @LisaJohnson. She also runs a few Pilates studios, Modern Pilates Boston.


  1. I like this idea of scheduling exercise. I always think “oh I’ll fit in a walk after work” and then by the time I get home I get involved in other things. I’ll try this idea.

  2. Georgina says:

    Tess, I don’t think you’re alone there! I found the only way to make sure I exercise is to make it a non-negotiable part of my day. I’d decide I had to walk home, for example, so if I didn’t do the exercise, I wouldn’t get home.

    From there it becomes easier to make stuff like going to the gym or running non-negotiable as well. Yesterday it was pouring sleety rain where I am, but I still went for a run because I’d made the decision to do it and I was really looking forward to it all day.

  3. My two kids were born twenty months apart. A month after my second delivery, I was overweight by 49 pounds on a not-so-tall frame. I lost those 49 pounds in eight months. I used each of your bullet points to get me to my target weight.

    1. Schedule it. I made working out a realistic part of my day. My husband gets up early for work and kids are notoriously early-risers, right? So, my workouts started at 9 p.m., after everyone in my home had dinner and the kids were tucked in for the night. Any issues that arose between the hours of 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. were addressed by my supportive husband.
    2. Pay someone to train you. I did not hire a personal trainer because traveling to a gym daily was not practical for me. Instead, I joined Weight Watchers online. You are correct in saying that paying to lose weight will motivate you to nix the excuses and get moving!
    3. Remember the long term benefits. For this aspect, I used pictures–one of me post weight gain, and one of the me I had been my entire adult life. Seeing that version of me in a tangible photograph nudged me forward on nights when the last thing on Earth I wanted to do was exercise.

    I will not say that I glided through my workouts then or now. Instead, I adopted a lifestyle that integrated exercise, as you spot-on mention in your post.

    Thank you for this piece. Have a lovely rest of the week.

  4. Great to see the success stories here. Janette, way to go! Tess, I think scheduling exercise is *the* most important thing you can do with journaling a very close second.

    Best of luck everyone,


  5. Thank you for putting this in my face… I have twenty lbs to go… I looked and felt so much better last summer… I cant seem to talk myself into starting… I work from home now and my days roll… I cant see to find a start/finish time to my day… I am working (yay) I am very grateful for that… but I can’t understand why I cant get back the mindset… I even have a small gym here at home!
    Why am I being so stubborn here?

  6. What has helped me to stick with exercising is my commitment to my health, no matter what! I have a workout schedule, and it has been my goal to stick with that schedule to make working out an essential part of my life. On my way home my gym bag is right in plain sight and I also keep repeating to myself motivational phrases to stop me from going home when I’m supposed to be hitting the gym.

    It’s like everything else in life. Sometimes we do good for a while, but then fall off the wagon. You have to get back on the wagon, no matter how long you’ve been off. It’s hard, but definetly not impossible. You must never give up, because the consequences of a non-active lifestyle are too costly!

    Thanks Lisa,


  7. you will have a great blog right here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my blog?

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