Just like every year, a lot of people’s new year’s resolution is to get fitter and start doing more exercise. Whether you are a complete beginner, returning after a break or have just recovered from an injury, here are a few tips that might help you keep your resolution.

DO start slow. Getting fitter is basically forming a new habit and just like any other new habit it takes some time to form. If you don’t leave your body enough time to get used to the exercise, especially if you haven’t done any before, you will not be able to keep it up. You will ultimately lose motivation and give up, which brings you right back to where you started. Therefore, don’t overdo it at first and slowly increase the time spent working out.

DON’T opt for the first gym you see. There are so many different gyms that is easy to get lost in the gym jungle. Therefore, take some time before choosing and signing up for a gym. Compare different offers and locations, you might not need all the equipment or services one gym has and could settle for a cheaper one, while still getting the same results. You could fir instance visit them and check if you would be comfortable in that environment.

DO find the activity that’s right for you. Doing more exercise and getting fit does not equal going to the gym, there are plenty of other ways to achieve this. I personally don’t enjoy going to the gym on my own, but I do like group exercise classes, which offer a wide variety of classes from dance based classes to those focused on toning your body. It is easy to mix them up, if for instance, you want to do something less strenuous from time to time. But there is also running, swimming and doing workouts at home ,amongst others, and you can try them out until you find what is right for you. Of course not every activity is right for every goal and you have to find out what suits you best. But as soon as you’re moving your body you are already doing great.

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DON’T miss out on free trials. Especially now in January when gyms are taking advantage of people’s resolutions, they offer free trials during which you can try the gym or one of their classes before signing up. This is an excellent opportunity to find out what you enjoy doing and you can avoid getting caught up in something you don’t actually like. There is no shame in trying several things until you find what’s right for you!

DO have rest days and listen to your body. In the beginning it is easy to overestimate oneself and if you are very keen you might forget about the importance of rest days. Rest days help your body recover and prevent injuries. If you are not used to working out your body might ache and you’ll experience muscle soreness, in that case it is better to rest and to take care of your body. Having a day off will not annihilate your progress, ‘no pain, no gain’ should not be taken too literally.

DON’T be afraid to go alone. Stepping into a gym, where everyone seems to know how things work, for the first time on your own is daunting but this shouldn’t stop you! Remember that all these people also had to start where you are now and they are probably too focused on their own workouts to really notice you anyway. Most gyms have personal trainers who are more than happy to help you and answer any possible questions you have.

DO ask a friend to come with you. If going on your own is too intimidating after all, you might be able to convince a friend to start the journey together. Alternatively,  if you know someone who is more experienced, they might be able to take you along and show you around. People are often more motivated when they exercise together, because they can encourage each other.

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DON’T forget to warm up. No matter what kind of exercise you’re doing it is important to prepare your body for it in order to prevent injuries. You can get your heart rate up by simply jogging a bit and then do some light stretches and mobility exercises. If you are taking a class, the instructor will usually take care of this and it will form part of the class. However, warming up on your own before the beginning of the class won’t hurt.

Finally, DO make sure to drink enough water. Most people already don’t drink enough water in their normal day-to-day lives, but staying hydrated is even more important because you’re losing fluid through sweat. So make sure you take your water bottle with you to your chosen activity.

Have fun exercising and don’t give up! You can do this!