Staying physically active through exercise is vital for a healthy quality of life. However, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. Don’t panic—the Y is here to guide you on your wellness journey, wherever you’re beginning. Here are some tips to help you get started!

1. Check With Your Health Care Provider

Before you begin a new exercise routine, it doesn’t hurt to check in with your doctor. If it's been awhile since you've exercised or if you have any health concerns, especially around past injuries, set up an appointment to discuss what level of exercise is right for you. Working with your health care provider can help you plan a sustainable exercise routine that will allow you maximize your workouts and, more importantly, minimize injury. Plus, our personal trainers can create a customized plan for you based on any recommendations.

2. Establish A Routine 

Woman planking in exercise class

Finding time to exercise can be a challenge in all stages of life. To make it easier, try scheduling your workout time in advance. If you can plan a YMCA visit or virtual class at the same time each day, you’ll find it easier to work exercise into your regular routine. Set yourself up for success: If you prefer working out in the morning, plan to set aside an hour. If you find yourself with more energy and motivation in the afternoon, that morning workout probably won’t be sustainable. Choose a time that works for you. It takes a little over two months to build a habit, and setting aside some time in your routine helps build healthy, life-long behaviors.

3. Stay Hydrated

Good hydration is important all the time, not just when you’re stepping foot on the Wellness Floor. But, it’s even more important when you’re working out. If you don’t drink enough fluids before, during, and after you exercise, you could be at risk for dehydration. Dehydration can prevent you from exercising and can send you home with dizziness, headaches, soreness, fatigue, or even worse symptoms. On the other hand, being properly hydrated helps optimize your exercise performance. There are varying opinions on just how much water you should be drinking every day. But, we can all agree that water is crucial to functions in the human body and should be prioritized when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. A good rule of thumb is to drink fluids all throughout the day instead of only picking up your water bottle when you’re thirsty. 

4. Focus On Your Nutrition

Without the proper nutrients from a balanced diet, you’ll lose many of the benefits that you receive from exercising. “Food is to be used as fuel for your body before and after a workout,” says Clarksville Wellness Director Jay Bailey. “You should never work out on an empty stomach.” There are three macronutrients that your body needs: carbs, proteins and healthy fats.

  • Carbs fuel your muscles before exercise (like vegetables, fruits and whole grains).
  • Protein helps with recovery after exercise and builds muscle mass (like chicken, turkey or beans).
  • Healthy fats can help burn body fat and maintain energy levels during exercise (like avocados or almonds).

Fueling your body can feel overwhelming, which is why we encourage new beginners to look to the experts! At the Y, we offer virtual nutrition counseling with a Registered Dietitian who helps individuals implement healthier eating habits. You’ll also build a toolkit of nutritional knowledge to create sustainable change in your routine. Learn more about Nutrition Counseling and sign up for a session here.

5. Don’t Forget To Rest And Recover

Surprisingly, rest days are just as important as exercising. In fact, a successful exercise routine isn’t complete without rest days. Taking regular breaks allows your body to recover and repair. It may seem like you’re going backwards when you rest, but skipping rest days can lead to burnout or injury. As a result, make sure that you give your body adequate time to rest throughout the week. It’s okay to take a break! 

6. Join A Group

Not one for solo workouts? You don’t have to exercise by yourself! At the Y, we provide unlimited group exercise options all throughout the year included with your membership. Our group exercise classes are exciting, challenging and fun—not to mention motivating! They help provide the accountability and support that you need as you begin to work towards your goals. Plus, you will be able to connect with other members of our community. Learn more about our group exercise class offerings for all ages and abilities here. 

No matter where you are on your health journey, the Y is here to support you. For more information, please visit us online at or check in with the Welcome Desk at your local YMCA of Middle Tennessee center. We’ll see you at the Y!