I Have No Idea How to Workout – Where Do I Start?

In this episode, Coach Joe Brauer and Coach Crystal help guide you through the basics of starting a workout routine.

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Crystal O'Keefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method podcast. I am your host, Crystal O'Keefe, and today I am joined by Coach Joe Brauer, and we are going to be discussing workouts for beginners.

I really appreciate you being here today. Thank you very much. I would like to start with just tell me a little bit about your background, Joe. Because I know you've been working in the fitness world for quite a while.

Joe Brauer: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So, most of my experience really falls into the corporate fitness space actually.

So, I was contracted to work at large companies like Dolby Laboratories, Johnson and Johnson, Intuit, and basically manage their on site fitness facilities. They usually had gyms on their campus. Which is kind of a new thing coming up in the last couple years where, employers are prioritizing employee health and wellbeing and so they build out gyms essentially, or health and wellness programs onsite accessible to them. And I'm sure some of our listeners work at companies that offer similar amenities.

Most of my experience falls into managing and running those programs. And so, it consisted of a lot of personal training, a lot of group exercise instruction, a lot of educational seminars and clinics based around movement or health and wellness or nutrition.

And the thing is, most of those corporate employees that came through the door, were beginners. That's the thing. They were very sedentary, and this was maybe their first job where they had such an awesome amenity accessible to them. And so, I'd say eight out of 10, nine out of 10 of the employees that I was working with were beginners.

And that’s an amazing population to work with and it's such an exciting population to work with. Everyone needs to start somewhere, right? It's a daunting thing when you walk into the gym and you see crazy fit individuals, super strong guys, or super fit women. And so, everyone needs to start somewhere.

So, it's a great topic and I'm really excited to talk about it.

Crystal O'Keefe: I love that you have lots of experience with this because, the first question out of the gate is going to be: Joe, I want to start working out what do I need to do?

Joe Brauer: Very common question. Very common question. Yeah. So there's a couple things, right?

A couple things that I like to consider. And first, it needs to be safe, right? Your safety, client safety. Someone's safety is always every fitness professional's top priority, right? So, with that, you need to make sure that you are physically able and physically capable, and it is safe to start exercising.

So, the best thing to do, to be honest, Crystal, is to go to your doctor, go to a primary care and talk to them and say, “Hey, I want to start an exercise program. Is it safe for me to do so?” If you have preexisting health conditions, if you have a heart condition, if you have physical ailments, an ankle that's firing up, a low back that's firing up, maybe starting an exercise program is going to exacerbate that pain and exacerbate those issues and make it worse, right?

So, step one essentially is get cleared for exercise. Make sure you are ready, right? To exercise to start. Because you don't want to get hurt right out of the gate and you don't want to make something worse.

Crystal O'Keefe: And you think you can lift that barbell and then, whoops.

Joe Brauer: Exactly. Or even if, like, I see this all the time where back in college, X amount of years ago I used to do this, so I'm going to hop right in and get right back to it now. It's not always the case. Our bodies change, right? So, making sure that you get cleared for physical activity and making sure that it's safe to even start is always step one.

Then I would really focus on finding something you enjoy doing, right? If you are starting from ground zero and you want to get started exercising, picking an activity or finding something that you enjoy makes it so much easier to do it and to especially do it again. Know our listeners have heard, at least a lot of us say consistency, routine, sustainability in your life. These types of things are priorities for a healthy lifestyle. In picking a physical activity or an exercise modality that you enjoy doing makes it so much easier to do it again.

Crystal O'Keefe: It absolutely does.

Joe Brauer: Right? It's like, why if you do something you hate, why would you want to keep doing it?

Crystal O'Keefe: I mean, I didn't like that's, it's a whole other podcast, but that's why Peloton was such a big deal for me.

Joe Brauer: Exactly right. You enjoyed it. You enjoyed it. So that's awesome. So that's kind of the second thing, right? Is find something you enjoy. Understand what you like doing.

And then the next thing that I kind of walk people through is, okay, let's find some time to do it right? And Crystal, I think this could be a whole other topic, a whole other podcast, is I don't have enough time. That barrier. It is so common and I understand. I get it.

Fitness professionals have heard that before. I don't have enough time to work out. Yeah. So, here's the thing, and I'm going to keep this pretty surface level, but I think it's a more of a matter of prioritization and I think people run into the issue of I don't have enough.

Right? They think they need a full 45 minutes. They think they need a full 60 minutes for that activity for that workout, for whatever it is. You'll see benefit from 10 minutes of movement in a day. And I truly believe that everyone has 10 minutes somewhere. I think somewhere they can move things around.

They can do something to budget 10 minutes in their day to devote to physical activity, right?

Crystal O'Keefe: I think some people are just black and white thinkers like myself and it's like, but I don't want to put on workout clothes for 10 minutes. You know what I mean?

Joe Brauer: Yeah, and you're right. It's like if it's only 10 minutes, why even do it at all? Right. And so, that's a difficult barrier to overcome, right? If you think you need the 30 or the 60, right? Of course, I'm not going to lie, a 30 minute workout is going to be more beneficial than a 10 minute workout.

Getting that 10 minutes in is going to get your body more exposed to what physical activity feels like and it's going to be able to get you into a more solid routine throughout your week that you can then build upon.

Because if you do those 10 minutes right every day, three days a week, five days a week, whatever it is, and you do something you enjoy, you're going to want to do it for 15 minutes, you're going to want to do it for 20. And you'll be able to navigate your schedule in such a way that it'll be more easily available, right?

That time will be more easily available to budget in longer durationnto then build upon as the weeks progress. Does that make sense?

Crystal O'Keefe: It does. If I hear you correctly, it's like if you do the 10 minutes and you like it and you want to keep coming back, it's going to be that much easier to build that into 15, that build it into 20.

Joe Brauer: Exactly, exactly. If that's just a walk, right? If it's just a walk around the block and you know there's a certain area by your house that's gorgeous down the river or whatever it is, right? And you enjoy it, then great. You'll do that for 15 minutes next time, because you enjoy it. You know what I mean?

That's kind of an important aspect right? Look at your schedule. Find some viable days and viable times to devote to exercise. And don't get caught up on the, oh, I need 45 minutes. Oh, I need 60 minutes. Because something that I always say is anything is better than nothing, right?

Any physical activity, any exercise, any movement. Is better than if you didn't do it at all. It sounds simple, but it's just so true. It's just so true.

Crystal O'Keefe: It is. I think some of us need to put like a post-it note right in front of us that like 10 minutes matters. Like, forward is a pace. Those kinds of things.

Joe Brauer: Exactly. Every step of the way is closer to that goal, right? So, that's the next thing I look for, get cleared, right? Make sure it's safe, find something you enjoy. Find some viable times to do it. And the last piece is, now you got to do it. It's motivation, it is accountability, it's these types of things because you know something will always come up.

Something will always come up that you can devote your time to or move to, right? And so, I mentioned it earlier, the prioritization's a big one, but also being held accountable and being motivated is difficult, right? But we have so many resources, there's so many things that can help you with that.

An accountability buddy, right? A significant other, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, a son, right in the family. What if your son is in high school and wants to join the varsity team, go out in the backyard and play with him, right? A friend, a colleague, a coworker that wants to get started with you.

There are social media groups, you know, Facebook groups. There's so many things a MetPro Coach, you know, I'm going to throw that one in there. Like, we do a great job of holding people accountable with their exercise. So, there's so many ways that you can navigate, you know, okay, I know I want to do this.

You're not alone, all right? You're not alone and you don't have to be alone. Finding, like I said, a significant other, friend or colleague, coworker, right? Social media, hiring a professional, like I said, a MetPro coach or a personal trainer or something along those lines, all of those support groups will help you do that physical activity in the times you allot and prioritize.

That's kind of the last thing that I like to walk people through is, you know, get cleared, make sure it's safe, find something you enjoy, find some time to do it, and then find some friends to do it with. Right. And that's a high level, approach that I like to take when people walk through the door and say, “What do I do?”

Crystal O'Keefe: Okay. I love all of that, and I really love how you gave actionable steps, like very laid out and detailed. But now Joe, how do you know what works and what doesn't?

Joe Brauer: Yeah, exactly. I mean, you do all of those steps and then you don't want to devote that time, right? You devoted your time, you found it in your schedule, you know?

And yes, you might enjoy it, but if you have a specific goal in mind, you want to make sure that what you're doing is in line with those goals, right? You don't want it to be, you know, I don't want to say a waste because that's not true. No exercise, no movement is a waste of time. All exercises just kind of pointing to different things.

They're all, you know, in different avenues. Some things are better than others for other things, right? So what works in what doesn't? It depends, and I think our listeners are going to, uh, if they had a dollar for every time, I feel like one of the coaches said it depends on a podcast . Um, they could retire, it'd be rich.

But it's just so true. Right? It's just so true. And, it really depends on your goals and it depends on your body and it depends on what you can physically do and where you want to take your body. Right? For what types of exercise work or certain things and what types of exercise are maybe not as in line with what you know with where you want to go.

So I'm going to keep this very high level because to be honest, Crystal, the science and the studies are kind of split on this. There's no real consensus on what the best modality of exercise is for all individuals to lose weight, right, or to build muscle.

So, I'm going to keep it kind of high level if you want to lose weight, as simple as those two words may sound. If that is more in line with what you want to do, doing more cardio, respiratory, or more endurance focused exercise is going to be the most beneficial. So, things like a treadmill, an elliptical, a StairMaster, a bike, a rower, walking, you know, these types of things that basically allow your body and your heart rate to be elevated for extended periods of time.

So that's kind of the best modality for usually, let me continue to say that. Usually, the best modality for if you want to lose weight, right? And then if you want to build strength or build muscle, right? Can we guess what the best modality is to do that?

Crystal O'Keefe: Uh, yeah, I'm just kidding. Uh, I'm going to say lifting weights.

Joe Brauer: Yes. Yes. Lifting weights. Resistance training. Strength training. Right. That's going to be the best modality if you want to build strength or if you want to build muscle. Okay. And there's a lot of nuances when it comes to that. Now a common barrier that I know that comes with that as beginners is, Going into the gym, right?

And the pressures or the nervousness that people feel in there, but also what to do from a strength training perspective, right? Um, what weights to use, how many sets, how many reps, what is a set, what is a rep, right? I don't have any weights at home, and I can't go to the gym, right? So, there's so many things to dive into in the strength training category.

If that's more in line with what your goals are, then I definitely recommend, you know, hiring a professional, a personal trainer, a MetPro coach, someone who can help guide you through that. Not to say that you don't need one for cardio, right? I'm sure our marathon runners that have marathon coaches could contest at that.

But with the strength training piece, it's super important to make sure that you stay safe, right? With these heavy weights that you're pulling and pushing and, possibly going overhead with, and these types of things. So, you know, that's kind of one tidbit I want to throw in there is if that's really your goal, then I'd highly recommend going to a gym, and if that's not even an option, a professional, a personal trainer, you know, any of these things.

I don't know of a gym that doesn't have some sort of equipment orientation. It's usually 30 minutes. It's usually free where they basically walk you through all of the machines and teach you how to use them.

Crystal O'Keefe: So, it's so important like form with the strength training, like, and that goes back to what you said at the very beginning.

Be safe. Like that, that goes back to that. You do not want to use a machine incorrectly. . .

Joe Brauer: Exactly. Because if you get hurt in, you know, day one, week one, then you're out for the next X amount of weeks and you can't do anything. Right? So, it's better to start small and build up and make sure that you're doing it safely so that you can continue to do it.

And it's part of a routine and it's consistent. All of those great things. So, it's very important to do that. Very important. And then I'd say the last ones, right? So, lose weight, right? Stick to more cardio, right? Build strength, stick to more strength. Crazy. And then a combination, right?

A combination of two is very common. I see this a lot where, you know clients or people want to lose weight, but they want to retain muscle where they want to burn body fat, right? They want to do some sort of combination. I want to lose, but I want to build strength. Right.

Crystal O'Keefe: I want all of it. I want all of the things, all of them

Joe Brauer: Isn't that the best? I want to drop all of this weight, but I only want it to be body fat. I want to retain and build muscle while I'm doing that. So there's a lot of things going on.

Crystal O'Keefe: And at the end, I want a six pack.

Joe Brauer: Exactly. Exactly. And I want to stay fat and I want to be like all those physique, you know, athletes and models that we see.

Yeah, so, if that's more of your goal? Then doing some sort of combination. You kind of need to integrate both into your routine of cardio, respiratory, fitness and strength training. You need to do some sort of blend, some sort of mix.

Now, the specifics around all three of these are very client dependent, right? It depends, that cannot sum up, you know, more clearly, more accurately. This specific topic of what works and what doesn't. If you want to get more information, if you want to dive deeper into your body, your goals, your experience, right?

Your movement patterns, these types of things, you really need to hire a professional that knows how to apply and where to apply these different modalities into your life.

Crystal O'Keefe: And, and to that point, beware of any program that promises. results based on doing the exact same thing for everybody.

Because to your point, everybody is so different. You and I might have the exact same goals, but we would approach it very differently because we have different body types and we're different ages and so we would need to do that very differently. And so, if there's a program out there that you're looking at and it says like, we promise results no matter. Be concerned.

Joe Brauer: Yes. A hundred percent. A hundred. Or even I see these all the time also, where it's a very generalized survey or it's a questionnaire that you fill out and then based on your answers, they say, this is what we recommend being the best. I think you need more than that, in my opinion. I think you need more than five questions.

What is your goal? What's your height? What's your weight? What's your previous experience? Right? I think you need to dive a little bit deeper than, as you know, one of those very high level surface level questionnaires because that's, it is a little bit more specific than what you're speaking to Crystal of the, of the one size fits all.

I definitely don't recommend those. You're right. It depends on the person, but I even think, you know, I know those questionnaires are super common in those surveys are super common as well. I would even be a little weary of those as well, because the level of detail that those surveys and questionnaires have in regards to you, your body, your life, your schedule, your goals is pretty minimal. So, so yeah, I'd kind of throw that tidbit in there as well.

Crystal O'Keefe: So, you've talked about what works and what doesn't and I know as you're creating what works and what doesn't, you're making a workout plan.

How do you decide what that looks like?

Joe Brauer: Yeah. Yeah. So, a lot of things, right? There's a lot of things to unpack here. I don't want to say it depends again, but it truly does, right? It truly does. Um, and so when it comes to that, you know, it's going to be goal specific, right?

It's going to be client specific. It's going to be how much time do you have in your exercise session, what does your schedule look like? All of these things, but from a high level perspective, right? We want to shoot for about, 30 minutes of a workout session, five days a week, right?

That's our line of like, all right, let's go for this, right? Five days a week of 30 minute workout sessions, right? Now, I know a lot of listeners, if they're beginners and they're just getting started, they're going to say, what? No way, every single day, 30 minutes. Like, that's crazy, right?

And they've got a point if you're starting from zero and you hear that five days a week, 30 minutes, of course that's daunting. Of course, that's hard to fit into your schedule. Of course, that's intimidating, right? And so that's where the starting small and building up to that frequency, length of time, comes.

If you don't have five days a week at 30 minutes, and to be honest, even if you have that time available, if you're a beginner and you're just getting started, I wouldn't even recommend jumping into that because going from zero to a hundred, you know, the risk of injury skyrockets when you do that.

And so, you know, a lot of musculoskeletal injuries come from doing too, you know, too. Too quickly after doing too little for too long. Let that resonate. I'll say it again. A lot of injuries occur at least from exercise after doing too much too quickly after doing too little for too long, right?

It's basically going from zero to a hundred. That's kind of the analogy I like to use, so, If, if that's the case, right? Starting small and finding, is there two days a week, 30 minutes that you can do instead of five? Um, no. Okay. Is there two days a week at 20 minutes? 15 minutes is there, two days a week at 10 minutes and then slowly building up to that five days a week at 30 minutes will be your best bet.

Crystal O'Keefe: Okay. So, so you want to kind of ease into things and I guess if you're the kind of person that you already feel like, oh, 10 minutes isn't enough. How is there, are there any suggestions you have for, it's okay. Like giving yourself permission to start small, because I feel you're starting a program, you’re not feeling great about where you are and you're like, determined, I will change this.

You want to go all in. Like, you want to be like, okay, five days a week, 30 minutes every day, I am going to go hard. And like you're saying, ease in. So like how do we give ourselves permission to do that easing in?

Joe Brauer: Yeah. And I think, that's a great question. I think it's a matter of, taking a step back and looking at things from 30,000 feet. It is what I like to say. If you take a step back, like you said, it's January, right? People are motivated right now.

They're ready to go, you know, ready to work hard, go in five days a week, they're, they're motivated to do it. Right now, the thing is, the motivation, it's very difficult to maintain that and have that be consistent into March in, into April, right?

As the months and as the year progresses. And so, if you start now in January and you were starting from zero and then you're motivated to get five days a week in now it's difficult to maintain that as the year progresses. So, what I like to do is take a step back, look at the year as a whole from 30,000 feet, right, and say, okay, if I start in January now and I start at two days a week for January, right?

And, say in, you know, February, I add a third day, right? If you kind of start slower and you progress in that way by, you know, June, July, August, you know, September, right? As you're halfway or into that, you know, later half of the year. You'll then be at that five days a week, right? So, then that will bleed into December, and then you're at January of next year, and now you're training five days a week for 30 minutes, and you feel great and it's part of your routine.

So, I'd recommend you kind of taking a step back and realizing, okay, this exercise, this physical activity, this lifestyle change that I want to make is exactly that. It's a lifestyle change. I don't want to just do this for a month. I don't want to just do this for two months, right? If I want to make this part of my life, I need to look at it in the, you know, through the lens of years.

And so, doing that has at least helped me kind of give myself permission to start slow, right? Okay. This is a process. I need to understand that this is going to take time. I need to understand and be patient that, hey, no changes that I want to make to my body are going to happen overnight. Right? So, kind of realizing that this is a long game and realizing that I need to be patient and realizing that, you know, if this lifestyle change, I want to last for years, I need to look at it through a lens of the year, not necessarily the week, the five days, you know, in the first week.
Does that make sense?

Crystal O'Keefe: It makes perfect sense. And the big key that I heard was be patient and sometimes I have a little trouble with that and that's a good reminder. I think it's like, it's kind of like you said earlier about another reminder is that like a little bit, that 10 minutes is still helpful.

We all want to do everything all at once. And remembering we didn't get here, wherever here is, overnight. Um, yeah. And, and so we're not going to get where we want to be overnight either. It takes time and it takes that patience, and it takes consistency. And I think that you can't just hear this one time.

I think we have to say it to ourselves over and over and over again. Especially if it's something you struggle with like me.

Joe Brauer: And that's also where the accountability buddy comes in, right? Having a partner to do these things with really helps. It really helps. And so if you're in your own head and you're by yourself and you're trying to accomplish all of this by yourself, it's going to be really difficult to not let those other thoughts, you know, overcome Right?

Or those other thoughts win that battle, right? Of, the, the time, right? Or, the intensity barrier or the, you know, nervousness to go into the gym, right? If you have. A buddy or a friend, or a colleague or a coach to help you through this and to help you realize that it makes it so much easier to take that step back and realize, and to be patient, and to be consistent.

So, these types of things that are, you know, pivotal to success, really.

Crystal O'Keefe:Yeah. All good reminders. Okay, Joe, what, what else do we need to make sure people know as they're starting their journey with exercise?

Joe Brauer: It's really just make sure it's safe, right? That's always number one. Make sure it's safe to even get started. And you know, I think the thing I would really like to focus on also, and I just talked about it, is it's so much easier if you have someone to do it with, or at least you have a friend or a colleague or a significant other, some, some partner, right?

We're social beings, we're social creatures, and you know, having a colleague or a friend or someone that's kind of your teammate through it. Makes it more fun, it makes it more accessible. Sometimes it makes it more enjoyable. It's just, it's just all good things when you, when you're not alone.

That's kind of the last one of the things that I just want to emphasize is like, make sure it's safe, but also find someone to do it with and it'll be so much easier and so much more fun to, to continue to do it.

Crystal O'Keefe:Such great advice. Thank you so much for your time today, Joe.

Joe Brauer: Of course.

Yeah. I appreciate it. I'm excited to continue to talk to people and I hope this information really helps beginners kickstart their health, and wellness, and fitness journeys.

Crystal O'Keefe: I know that it will, and you'll probably have some listeners reach out to you.

Listeners, that's all for this week, but you can find all of the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts or you can go to metpro.co/podcast. Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what they can expect from the show. And you can also learn more about MetPro at metpro.co

So if you're interested in getting your own coach, you're interested in trying out the app, that's where you can go to try all that out. I am your host, Crystal O'Keefe and I will be back next week. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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