How To Start A Fitness Journey In 12 Steps

It’s time to take the first steps toward a more vibrant life!

As a certified personal trainer, I’ll provide you with the tools on how to start a fitness journey. 

This guide will kickstart your goals with 12 steps to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. 

Keep reading and you just might reignite a commitment to fitness. 
Here’s what’s coming up. 

How To Start A Fitness Journey

  • Set up SMART process goals. 
  • Get clearance with a healthcare professional 
  • Make a exercise plan at your fitness level 
  • Lay down realistic expectations
  • Craft your perfect everyday routine
  • Make safety and rest a priority 
  • Be conscious of basic nutrition
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet 
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Discover your motivation to workout
  • Keep track of your fitness progress  
  • Have a game plan for common obstacles 


What’s Your Current Situation?

how to start a fitness journey

Before you figure how to start a fitness journey, it’s important to know where you are. 

I don’t mean location! I mean to take stock of where you stand.

  • Are you committed to this challenge?
  • Are you committed to this challenge?

Questions like these are important to ask, so you can learn more about yourself. It can also give you the opportunity to talk to someone about it. 

It helps to start by identifying strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to focus on areas that need improvement, and to visualize them. You can also take pride in your strengths and make most of it. 

Taking notes can provide insight to make informed decisions. In turn, informed decisions can be valuable on how to start a fitness journey. Here’s the first two steps to help assess your current situation. 

1. Define Your Goals 

Setting clear goals is like making a roadmap for your journey. These goals become like a guide, keeping you focused on the path. 

The stronger your commitment to a goal, the more effective the goal will be to change your behavior. Remember to make SMART goals. 

  • Specific – goals should be clear and state exactly what you wish to accomplish. 
  • Measurable – goals should be trackable so that you can measure progress. 
  • Attainable – goals should be realistically achievable to foster encouragement. 
  • Relevant – goals should line up with your abilities and needs. 
  • Time-bound – goals should have estimated time-lines for completion. 

There are process goals and performance goals.

  • Process goals are achieved by doing something. For example, a good process goal is, “I will workout 3 times per week.” 
  • Performance goals are changes in measurable values like strength or weight. For example, “I will lose 10 pounds in 2 months.” Performance goal is also known as an outcome goal. 

I would encourage process goals more than outcome goals.

The reason is you can not control the rate at which your body responds to exercise, like in pounds lost per week. Process goals keep you motivated and positive on how to start a fitness journey. 

2. Get A Health Check-Up As Needed

Before you break a sweat, it’s important to make sure your body is ready to figure how to start a fitness journey. 

If you have any known cardiovascular, metabolic, or kidney disease then a medical clearance is recommended. This includes heart and blood conditions and diabetes. 

Even if you don’t have pre-existing medical conditions, a check-up may be a good idea. 

A healthcare professional can assess your current health status and identify any potential risks or limitations. Things like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and joint health can all be addressed.

How Do You Build A Strong Foundation? 

Now you’ve defined your goals and checked in on your health. Now it’s time to build a strong foundation for your fitness journey.

This phase on how to start a fitness journey involves the next 4 steps.

3. Create A Fitness Plan

With a solid plan, you won’t wonder what to do next. You’ll know which exercises to focus on during each workout. 

There are different approaches on how to start a fitness journey. Figure out your interests and take inspiration from doing research. Then choose a fitness plan and get going! 

You don’t necessarily have to go the gym to workout, but it does provide a convenient way to access equipment, classes, and even socialize.

A well rounded fitness plan should include cardio, strength training, flexibility and nutrition.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

Please realize that fitness results don’t happen overnight. 

For me it took a few years to see muscle growth for an aesthetic physique. I have an ectomorph body type, so I was a hard gainer when it came to muscle. But that’s me. Everyone’s journey will be different. 

The timeline to see significant changes depends on when you start, your effort, and your consistency. Realistic expectations will help set the stage for exciting progress and transformation. 

5. Develop A Routine

A set schedule will help to pan out your day and turn fitness into a habit. You don’t want to dread exercise time, but instead introduce it as a lifestyle choice. 

Schedule workouts at times when you’re likely to have to have time to do them. They don’t have to be long workouts either. Short, high-intensity workouts are great for busy days, like this quick arm workout.

You can also live a healthier lifestyle by emphasizing physical activity everyday. Biking or walking to work, and taking the stairs are nice everyday examples. 

Related Article: Best Time Of Day To Workout

6. Prioritize Safety And Rest 

Safety starts with good form and technique. You’ll get the most out of each exercise, and save yourself from injuries. Good form will lead to better long-term progress.

Safety continues with proper warm-ups and cool downs.

  • Warm-ups prepare your body by increasing blood flow to muscles.
  • Cool downs help to lower heart rate, improve flexibility, and calm down overactive muscles. 

After a couple intense days of working out, rest days are needed. Rest days should not be seen as a weakness. They are an important part on how to start a fitness journey. 

Rest helps with muscle repair, injury repair, and mental recovery. 
For best practices with muscle recovery, consider the following: 

  • Stretching. It improves flexibility, reduces muscle tension. Plus stretching feels so good!
  • Foam rolling. It’s a self massage that fixes soreness and muscle knots. 
  • Good sleep. It’s a time for the muscles to repair and it helps with will being. 
  • Proper Nutrition. We’ll talk about this next.  

Rest days can be passive or active. Passive rest means not doing much physical activity. Active rest means to do some physical activity, like light cardio on rest days.

This is recommended because you can promote faster recovery. Faster recovery is is major when you make sense of how to start a fitness journey.

Related Article: Why Do People Go To The Gym? 6 Reasons

What Are Some Nutritional Guidelines?

Exercise is one piece on how to start a fitness journey. Diet is the other, and arguably the harder and more overlooked part.

Understanding and implementing good nutrition practices will set you up for success. 

7. Understand Basic Nutrition

Good nutrition will fuel your body and help with recovery. It will also boost your metabolism and help with weight management and weight loss.

Food provides energy necessary for everyday life. If you feed your body nutrient-dense foods, your performance and endurance will flourish.

The macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The micronutrients are vitamins and minerals.

  • Protein plays an important role in building and repairing muscle. Get protein from meat sources, some specific vegetables, whey, and vegan protein powders.
  • Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source. Complex carbs like whole grains and healthy starches like potatoes are good for sustained energy. 
  • Fats aren’t all bad. There are healthy fats that have multiple benefits including energy and omega-3s. Sources like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocado oil are good additions to your diet. 
  • Vitamins and minerals support a healthy immune system and bone health. Remember to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get a wide range of these micronutrients. 

8. Create A Balanced Diet 

A balance is what you’ll need to accelerate muscle growth and fat loss. Besides those things, a balanced diet just makes you feel good. 

Tips like using small plates and eating smaller, more frequent meals are ways to prevent overeating. Practicing mindful eating promotes a healthier relationship with food. 

For the best advice about meal planning and creating a balanced diet, talk to a registered dietician (RD). You can visit for government recommendations on portion size, budget-friendly food ideas, free resources, and more. 

9. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is not only important during workouts, but also in daily life. 

You lose fluids through sweat during exercise. Replenishing those fluids is important to prevent dehydration. 

  • Dehydration impairs cognitive function, which includes concentration and memory. Staying properly hydrated helps to maintain clarity. 
  • Drinking water revitalizes your body functions and even helps to clear skin and promote a more youthful look.
  • Water supports the digestive system by preventing constipation and having regular bowel movements. 

Water is by far the best choice for hydration, but other beverages with added minerals and electrolytes are ok too.

Many foods like fruits and vegetables have a high water content, so eat more of those if you don’t drink water. 

How Do You Overcome The Challenges?

If you feel that your fitness journey is difficult, you’re not alone! Many who wonder how to start a fitness journey encounter obstacles. 

You may encounter things with your health, family, or job that blocks your progress. Sometimes even mental fears and doubts can hold you back. 

This last section will address how to overcome common challenges. 
I’ll provide you with strategies to overcome them. 

10. Find Your Motivation 

A challenge that many experience is a loss of motivation to keep up with fitness. 

When you decide how to start a fitness journey, discover what drives you.A strategy to overcome lack of motivation is to identify what motivates you! 

Health Goals

Think about specific aspects of your health that matter to you. Maybe you want to have better cardiovascular endurance, or joint mobility. 

Or you want to reduce the risk of a certain disease or live longer to enjoy your grandchildren. Whatever the reason, your health goals can motivate you through the hard times. 

Aesthetic Goals

Are you more motivated by appearance? Think about how awesome you’ll look in a t-shirt or blouse. Maybe your favorite jeans are a little snug and you want them to fit again. 

If this sounds like you, then aesthetic goals can keep you motivated. Soon your progress will boost your confidence and self-esteem. 

Performance Goals

Define the sports and activities that inspire you, if performance is your motivation. Running faster, lifting more, or having more stamina can be goals you can achieve. 

Emotional Well Being

Exercise contributes to reducing your stress. If your goal is mental clarity and less stress, then keeping up with your fitness can be a motivator 

Once you figure out your motivations on how to start a fitness journey, here are strategies to keep going:

  • Reward Yourself. Make a reward system when you reach certain goals or milestones. These rewards don’t have to be over to the top. Treating yourself can increase self-worth and help practice self-gratitude. 
  • Find Social Support. A workout partner can help push you through the tough times and hold you accountable. It can make exercise a fun experience. But if that’s not possible, then head online and find a community where you fit to find encouragement. 

11. Track Your Progress

Tracking progress may sound tedious, but it’s a visual motivating factor. 
It provides real evidence of your hard work and dedication over time. 

Tracking progress is another way to hold yourself accountable. You’ll see where exactly you need to step it up. As you track, you can adjust your workouts and nutrition as needed. 

There are tools available to track your progress. Exercise apps, nutrition apps, and fitness journals are all ways to manage your, “how to start a fitness journey” adventure. 

12. Address Common Obstacles

Will power only lasts a short while. After that it takes discipline to keep going.

One way to overcome hurdles is to lay out common obstacles you’ll most likely encounter. It’s a valuable tool on how to start a fitness journey.

That way you have strategies to overcome them and keep going. Common obstacles include: 

  • Busy schedules and lack of time to exercise 
  • Fatigue and feeling tired from work, stress, or other commitments 
  • Plateaus when progress seems to stall 
  • Injury or health issues 
  • Lack of knowledge about exercises, workout plans, or nutrition 
  • Financial constraints to afford equipment or gym membership 
  • Negative self-image can affect the desire to workout 
  • Travel or commute can disrupt workout routines 
  • Gym intimidation can make you feel uncomfortable 
  • Limited access to fitness facilities or space can be a barrier 

Overcoming these obstacles are hard, but not impossible. If you set your mind and endure, it is possible. 

Start by prioritizing exercise   

You can decide that exercise is a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Short workouts can be a life changer too. 

Next, learn to
manage your stress   

Stress can be a contributing factor to fatigue and mess with your fitness journey. Incorporate stress-reduction methods or talk to friends, family, or a professional about it. 

Overcoming obstacles begins in the mind   

Create a mental image of what fitness success looks like to you. Not what social media says. Visualize your desired outcomes and stick to it. 

Get creative with workouts
if you’re getting bored  

There are so many styles and variations to exercise. It’s not just about lifting weights. Find activities that align with your interests and lifestyle. 

Finally, consider a personal trainer or fitness coach   

They can guide you on how to start a fitness journey. They can be a part of your support system to provide motivation, accountability, acceptance, and encouragement. 

Bottom Line 

Now you’re armed with knowledge on how to start a fitness journey. There’ll be bumps along the way, so use the 12 steps outlined here. 

With commitment, patience, and heart, you’ll be well on your way to achieve your goals. So take those first steps and embrace the idea of a healthier and happier you. 


Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!

Leave a Comment