7 Tips to Get You Back in the Gym

The holiday season is upon us and it often disrupts regular routines, causing many busy people to put their health and wellness on the backburner. Falling out of a regular fitness routine can make getting back into the gym difficult. Not only are there physical challenges to overcome with getting back into working out, but there can also be emotional and mental hurdles to defeat, as fitness can bring up confidence and self-esteem issues. If you’ve been sidelined by an injury like back pain or neck pain, then getting back into exercising requires caution and taking your time to prevent it from recurring.

If you’re wondering how to start working out again after taking a break or never joined in the first place, you need to know the right things to focus on to gradually build up to your desired fitness level. Follow these top tips for starting exercising again safely and effectively, helping you to achieve your ultimate fitness goals.

1. Start Out Slow


Getting back into the gym can be a struggle both physically and mentally. Starting slowly can help you build momentum and work at a pace that’s sustainable. You don’t want to overdo it. Going too hard, too often and for too long could put you at risk of injury and possible gym burnout. This is especially true of the risk for re-injury if you’ve suffered a previous one.

Your back-to-exercise routine might be a lot less than where you were at before you took time off. If you were working out 4-5 days per week or more, you may need to scale that back to once every three days or less. If you try to push yourself too hard in the beginning, you'll become more reluctant to keep going. If you want to stay active daily, then reduce the intensity and duration of your workouts. 

While all exercise routines and activities are different, a rule of thumb is to get back into working out at 20 percent of what your highest intensity was previously. If you stopped exercising due to an injury or illness, be sure to get the okay from your physician before getting started.


2. Set Achievable Goals

There are lots of different ways to set goals, depending on the results you’re looking to achieve. If your struggle has been to stay in a routine and commit to the gym or another form of workout, then you might consider setting a process goal. Conventionally, a goal has an end-point—a certain weight, time or distance metric you can reach. But process goals focus on the day-in-day-out habit development. An example of a process goal would be to go to the gym three times per week for 30 minutes. This is a process you can follow without a particular end-goal in mind, but it helps you build the initial habit required to reach an end-goal eventually.

The most important thing to consider when creating your goals, is to make sure they are attainable. Similar to starting out slow, you must evaluate your body and health to create achievable goals.Having a goal to lose 20+ pounds in only two weeks is not just unhealthy, but not attainable for someone who has not worked out in months. The same idea works with a process goal, such as working out three times a week for 30 minutes as mentioned above, versus workout out everyday of the week for two hours. 

One way to get started on creating achievable goals is by utilizing our complimentary Wellness Navigation program offered at the Y! By working with a Wellness Navigator, you'll curate sustainable goals, create a plan with you that fits your lifestyle, connect you to Y programs, track your progress and help you stay focused, and provide the motivation and support you need to reach those goals.

Wellness Navigation

3. Create a Realistic Schedule

Schedules hold you accountable to your goals. If you don’t schedule exercise, it won’t get done because the brain is conditioned to look for the path of least resistance. So, to make things easier on yourself and have a greater chance of reaching your goals, make your schedule something consistent and easy to follow.

For example, your schedule might tell you that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you go for a run between 6:00 and 7:00 PM. Or you go to the gym from 6:45 to 7:30 AM every day before work. Within your blocked out exercise times, you might also schedule different types of physical activities or workouts. Having an exercise schedule will help you stay on track. Without a schedule, you’ll be inclined to go whenever you feel like it. It’s important to treat exercise as a commitment to yourself, like any other appointment you’d keep. 

With your Summit Area YMCA membership, members can take advantage of ActivTrax - a web based program for exercise, weight management, and progress tracking that's also conveniently available through your smart phone! All workouts are customized using your personal profile settings and our equipment library to meet your unique goals and preferences. An ActivTrax account comes free with your membership and takes all the guesswork out of your next workout.



4. Monitor & Track Your Progress

Monitoring your fitness progress can prevent you from breaking your habit. If you keep track of how well you’re doing and the results you’re getting, you’ll be more inclined to keep going to prevent undoing all you’ve achieved.

There are tons of habit-tracking apps and programs available, such as the InBody Body Composition Analyzer located at the Berkeley Heights YMCA & Summit YMCA. With the InBody 570, users are able to get a comprehensive body composition analysis that provides data about your body in under 1 minute. 45 seconds, to be exact! By simply standing on the machine and holding the hand electrodes, the InBody machine is able to measure fat, muscle and water levels, and by inputting your phone number, all your data is saved to InBody's cloud-based database management system where you can easily view and manage your progress anytime, anywhere. The InBody Body Composition Analyzer is easy to use, members can get data about their body in 45 seconds, and you can keep track of your progress with easy access ro your data in the InBody Cloud "Lookin' Body Web."


5. Grab a Workout Buddy


When we fall out of an exercise habit, it can be surprisingly difficult to return to it. Developing an exercise plan is one thing, but sticking to it over the long-term is another issue. Because we’ve all had experiences of giving up on new year’s resolutions, many of us feel defeated before we even begin.

That’s where an accountability buddy can be very beneficial. An accountability buddy is someone you can attend exercise classes and sessions with. Or, an accountability buddy is someone to whom you can report your progress as a way to hold yourself accountable. Vice versa, you’d also be helping your buddy develop self-accountability.

Not sure where to start? Partner up with a buddy to work with a certified personal trainer to achieve the results you are looking for! With our small group training sessions, you and a friend can receive personalized workout routines because participants are grouped by goals, experience levels and availability. One of our popular small group training offerings is MX4, where you and your buddy can improve cardiovascular fitness, power, strength and endurance in a way that’s right for your body and abilities. MX4 provides a mix of personal trainer attention, camaraderie and challenging progressive workouts that change weekly.


6. Work With Trained and Certified Fitness Coaches

Depending on your fitness level previously as well as how long you’ve been on pause with exercise, you might consider working with a trainer. Professional trainers and fitness experts work with countless different bodies at ranging fitness levels. They’ll work with you to develop an exercise plan that’s right for you based on your past experiences, previous injuries and current fitness level. Combining these factors, they’ll get you on the path towards achieving your goals.

Strength trainers and running coaches are just two examples of fitness professionals you can go to for help. Kinesiologists, physical therapists and sports therapists are other specialized care providers who can recommend strength training and fitness plans for how to start working out again safely. Similar to an accountability buddy, a professional trainer is a great way to commit to exercise. A trainer will also help you maintain an exercise pace that’s consistent. They can help you get results but prevent you from pushing yourself beyond your current level.

Whether you have any questions for our experienced Fitness & Wellness staff on the floor or have a 1-on-1 session with a personal trainers, we are here to help! Stop by the Summit Area YMCA and speak to any staff member to get started on your journey to a better you. 



7. Listen to Your Body

Proper rest and recovery is a critical, but commonly overlooked aspect of fitness. One of the reasons for starting slow is to prevent overdoing it and risking an injury that will set you back even further. By listening to your body when it needs a break, scheduling rest and recovery alongside your workout sessions will keep you progressing sustainably towards your goals. Rest and recovery periods give you an opportunity to learn about your body, feel what’s going on and notice if anything needs attention. Keeping track of pains, aches and any other issues in a fitness diary can help you pinpoint the cause of the issue, allowing you to alter your routine accordingly.

When it comes to an exercise routine, it’s important to remain flexible. Not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. Your body is different from one day to the next and it’s important to honor this about yourself. You might have a certain workout scheduled, but your body may have other needs, and it’s wise to listen.

As you start your new exercise routine, make sure you have all the right tools to build your strength and enjoy yourself in a safe and healthy way. If you need assistance in creating your workout routine or by navigating our fitness and wellness programs, please contact Valeria Tenreiro, Wellness Director at the Summit Area YMCA, at valeria.tenreiro@thesay.org to get you started. 

Not a member yet? Join now and take advantage of our limited time special offer $0 Join Fee - offer ends December 31, 2021. Not only will you get access to the Berkeley Heights YMCA & Summit YMCA, but over 2500 other YMCA's nationwide. Our membership rates are monthly with no contracts or annual fees! Additionally, the Summit Area YMCA is proud to be able to offer financial assistance to those in need to ensure everyone has access to health and wellness programs. 


Questions? Contact:


Wellness Director


(908)273-3330 Ext. 1137




In 1886, we were founded as the Young Men's Christian Association, but today, we are The Y. An association that values, and is made stronger by, its diverse people. We stand for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — For a better us. We are committed to creating equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, age, disability, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in which our four core values — responsibility, honesty, caring and respect — are integral to everyday operations.

Each year, as one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations, the Summit Area YMCA serves more than 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the New Jersey communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Our history is rooted in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those in need.