Find your fitness: Exercise is for everyone
Getting into shape is a goal for many people but it can be difficult to know where to start, and trying a new workout class or gym can feel intimidating. The fitness industry often portrays a certain image of what it means to be fit. If you don’t look like the fitness models on social media, you might feel discouraged before you even start. And walking into a gym or workout class seemingly filled with people who are already in perfect shape can definitely be daunting.
But exercise is important for everyone, regardless of your current fitness level. Inclusive exercise is a recent trend emphasizing that regular physical activity benefits everyone and should be readily available and accessible to all.
All are welcome
Inclusive exercise also means creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive of all individuals. Many gyms and fitness facilities have taken notice of this trend, adding programs, trainers and other staff of all ages, sizes and body shapes. If instructors are older or have different body types than a stereotypical fitness specialist, their classes may seem more welcoming and the exercises more doable. You’re more likely to enjoy exercise and movement if you see yourself reflected in the environment.
Inclusive exercise has also gone online. Many community groups or online forums host inclusive workouts, like Pilates classes and hiking clubs, where you can connect with others who share your interests and goals.
To find inclusive facilities and groups:
- Check social media. See if the hashtags and images they post convey diversity and inclusivity.
- Talk to people. Chat with other members and the staff. Ask them what they like and don't like about the gym or class.
- Look for a variety of classes, equipment and activities. Inclusive programs know that everyone doesn't workout the same way and aim to provide options for everyone.
It's also important to remember that exercise doesn't have to be intense or complicated to be effective. Part of exercise inclusivity is working out at your level and at your pace. Start with small, achievable goals to build confidence and establish a routine. Walking, swimming and yoga are all low-impact activities that are great choices for beginners. As you become more comfortable with these activities, you can gradually increase the intensity or try new things.
Love what you do, do what you love
Another aspect of inclusive exercise is finding activities that you enjoy. Moving your body shouldn't feel like a chore or punishment; it should be something that you look forward to and feel good about doing. This might mean trying out a variety of activities until you find something that resonates with you. For example, if you love dancing, you might enjoy a Zumba class. Or, if you prefer being outdoors, you might try hiking or gardening.
It's also important to remember that fitness looks different for everyone. You don't have to have a certain body type or be able to do a certain number of push-ups to be considered fit. Fitness is about feeling strong, healthy and capable in your own body. This means setting goals that are meaningful to you and working towards them at your own pace. If you set unachievable expectations (such as running 15 miles or doing a headstand in your first yoga class), you’ll likely feel defeated and give up. See exercise as a small habit to include in your daily routine and gradually build from. Don't worry about what others' workouts look like. You do you.
Get set, go
Finally, remember that exercise is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall health. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and managing stress are all crucial factors as well. By taking a holistic approach to health and wellness, you can create a sustainable routine that supports your physical and mental well-being.
So don’t let the fact that you’re not a fitness fanatic keep you from working out. Everyone should exercise to improve their health, but that doesn’t mean you have to work out like an athlete or be embarrassed that you don’t look like one. Find activities that you enjoy, set achievable goals and exercise in an environment that supports your goals. By prioritizing your health and well-being, you can build a sustainable routine that helps you feel strong, healthy and capable in your own body.
Where are you in your fitness journey? Find a class or facility near you that supports your workout style.
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