Starting a self-driven exercise plan is a big commitment. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to do it all yourself. For those that don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on personal training, at-home workouts may be the best choice. If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place. In this article we will give you the tools to succeed in creating a sustainable, safe, home workout plan that sets you up for real, permanent life changes.
Step 1. Design your Program with Professional Help
Seeking the advice of a fitness professional is always the best place to start. A good trainer will help you create a plan that takes into account your current fitness level, past injuries, likes and dislikes, and current schedule. They will help you set realistic, attainable goals, and define the milestones along the path towards those goals. Making a workout plan that suits your body and life is key, so be honest with both yourself and your trainer when you make a plan. The idea that there can be a generic one-size-fits-all fitness program is about as ridiculous as the idea of a one-size-fits-all clothing! The best recipe for success is a plan that has been personalized to your needs and schedule.
If you can only afford the one session, be clear from the beginning that you need the trainer to make a full-body workout that you can repeat 2x a week. If you can afford 3 to 5 sessions, you can have the personal trainer assess you in one session, create a strength/core workout in another, and address cardio/flexibility in another. You can always spread out the sessions so that your 4th and 5th meetings are check-ins about form and progress.
Regardless of the number of sessions you choose, be sure to set these parameters with the personal trainer:
- Be explicitly clear about what YOU need from your session(s).
- Film the sessions with your cell phone so you do not need to rely on memory.
- Do not worry about eating habits or diet changes right away. One new habit at a time (more on that later).
Step 2: Schedule Your Cornerstone Workouts, and Show Up For Yourself!
Your next step is very important. Schedule two 30-minute workouts a week (at least 72 hours apart), and commit to doing them NO MATTER WHAT. That’s not to say you can’t change your plan down the line, but when you’re trying to instill a new habit a degree of rigid consistency is essential. These are your cornerstone workouts. Everything gets built around these two workouts.
At TPS we often use the phrase “show up for yourself”. What do we mean? If you schedule 30 minutes of weight training for Tuesday morning, you need to make a promise to yourself to follow through. Imagine that you are supporting a dear friend doing their 30 minute workout, and encourage yourself the way you’d do for them. Show. Up. For. Yourself.
Some practical things to consider:
- Schedule 15 mins of buffer time before and after your 30 min workout. No rushing off to/from meetings. This is YOUR hour.
- Try your best to keep the workout simple. Don’t allow tech or large equipment needs to be a barrier to your success.
- If you have kids be sure they are doing an activity that will occupy them for the full 60 mins.
- If you have an infant schedule your workout during their nap times. Workout FIRST, then do other things on your plate. Prioritize your commitment to yourself.
- If you have an infant or kids, also consider asking family or a friend to help for 2-3 hours on your cornerstone workout days. That will allow you time to workout, shower, eat, etc.
Step 3: Focus on Changing ONE Habit at a Time
You’ve heard this all before, but it is worth saying again: nothing sets you up for failure like taking on too much at once. EVERYONE wants to see change as quickly as possible, and the urge to make ten radical changes all at once can be overpowering at the beginning. We are here to remind you to SLOW YOUR ROLL. If you want to see real, permanent change in your life you must focus on one habit at a time. For 12 weeks your ONLY goal should be committing to your cornerstone workouts, and doing them consistently. After week 12, your brain will be ready to select a new habit to change. Your trainer can help you select the best 5 habits to focus on changing over the next year.
Step 4: Starting and Progressing at a Healthy Pace
Unless you have an urgent medical need to dramatically change your lifestyle right away, it is important to cultivate an appreciation of slow, steady progress. Too often people think back to a time when they could run a 6-minute mile or squat 120% of their body weight, and expect their body to magically time warp back to that level of fitness in a matter of weeks. Real talk: it’s not going to happen. Behaving like it will sets you up for failure and increases your risk of injury. Remember what we said about working on one habit at a time? There are countless studies that show that if people start out trying to go too hard, too fast they will injure themselves, lose momentum, and fall back into their unhealthy habits within 6-8 weeks. Let’s not do that, ok? Starting out is slow, and you need to come to terms with that at the beginning. Trust that your progress will naturally pick up speed as you go along.
Start strong by committing to your cornerstone workouts twice a week, and enjoy the journey. Find reasons to look forward to you workout days, and make plans around them. Treat your 30 minute workouts as precious time, and try to savor the healthy pace this new habit requires.
Step 5: Celebrate the Small Victories (and there will be MANY)!
Sing it with us! Ceeellllllllebrate good times, COME ON!
We all have at least one big long-term goal that is nagging at us. Sometimes it feels like you will never be able to focus on anything else until you reach that goal. We are here to remind you to think small! Setting goals is important, but it’s just as important that you identify and celebrate all the smaller achievements along the way. Try to identify smaller victories that will happen along the way to your big long-term goal. *Ahem* these are not extra habits you can sneak in to your plan, of course. We could hear you thinking of a few already. Stop that! This is not a to-do list; these are accomplishments related to your long-term goals. Made it through your first week of cornerstone workouts? WOOHOO! Slept really well for the first time in weeks after a hard workout? NICE ONE! Showed up for yourself for 4 weeks in a row? YEAH YOU DID! Picked up the 2.5 lb heavier weights to do your arm series today? BET THAT FELT GREAT!
When you celebrate the small victories along the way, you motivate yourself to keep going. Don’t put off feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride until you attain your largest goal. You have accomplished something just by starting and showing up for yourself 2x a week. These are all things worth celebrating!
There you have it, Pilates fans. You’ve just learned the five key steps to creating a successful at-home workout plan. Work with a trainer to create your customized plan (crazy thought: you could contact us for this part). Schedule cornerstone workouts 2x a week, and SHOW UP FOR YOURSELF. Focus on one habit at a time for 12 weeks. Come to terms with the concept of slow, steady progress. And make time to acknowledge and celebrate small victories along the way. Hit the restart button using these guidelines, and let’s get you moving!