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Starting a fitness routine can feel daunting, overwhelming, and a bit intimidating. Trying to start a fitness journey outside of mainstream fitness culture can be all of that plus feeling like you're swimming upstream. If you're trying to start working out and want to keep it weight neutral, here are some top tips for getting moving!

  1. Fill your feed with diverse athletes and movement. Find some folks on your social media of choice to follow who look like you for athletic inspo. Seeing diverse bodies in motion can provide the best kind of fitspo! It will help you to see what is possible without having to shrink your body.

  2. Try different things. One of the great things about the pandemic has been the boom of virtual fitness classes. On any given night, you could do body positive yoga, size inclusive strength training, fat liberation burlesque, weight neutral HIIT, body liberation pilates, and more. It is amazing to be able to try so many different types of movement with practitioners who are HAES-aligned! It can feel overwhelming to have *so* many different choices, but I encourage you, especially early in your journey, to explore what you like. Sometimes, even if you didn't love a particular form of movement when it was brought to you by weight-loss oriented trainers, it may be worth trying again with a body positive trainer.

  3. Pace yourself. When you start out trying to get a movement routine going, sometimes people go too hard too fast and end up either exhausted, injured, or both. Sometimes when you start out a new movement routine, it can feel really exciting, and you might go hard right off the bat. It's just important to pay attention to how you feel and give yourself rest days. One of the things that helps me remember not to go overboard is to remember that I'm in this for the long game. I want to be lifting and moving my body for a looooong time. While I might have short term goals, it helps keep things in perspective to remember the long game.

  4. Invest in a few key pieces of apparel/equipment. Having good shoes, a good sports bra, and some comfortable (and maybe cute?) workout clothes helps with injury prevention and comfort and motivation in your workouts. You don't need to buy a ton of new shit, but think about what kind of movement you plan to do the most of, and what will be helpful, motivating, and useful for you in your own movement routines. In short, get yourself a few things that are important, but don't feel like you need to have all of the perfect gear just to begin. For example, I did my first (several) triathlon(s) on a pretty crappy old mountain bike. I invested in good running shoes (to prevent injury) and a tri suit (for comfort and style points). You don't need every single thing just to start.

Jess and barre instructor Jennie in matching shiny red pants.
A recent in-person barre class I attended at Upcycle in Collingswood. Barre isn't always my "thing", but I like trying different shit sometimes!

  1. If at all possible, seek the services of a body positive fitness professional. Sure, you can do classes at your local globo-gym, but having the support of an ACTUALLY body positive personal trainer will make a huge difference in how supported you feel in your fitness journey. Obviously, as a weight neutral trainer, I am biased, but not only am I the president, I'm also a member! (I hope someone is the right age to remember that ad.) Early in my switch from weight focused fitness to weight neutral movement, I continued working with trainers who were weight-loss focused. I really thought I could just take the good, ignore the weight loss talk, and make it work. In reality, I felt more supported and better able to reach my goals working with a body positive coach.

There are a million benefits to moving your body regularly that have NOTHING to do with weight, and I hope if you're on a body positive fitness journey that you are aware of those benefits. I commend you for even thinking about embarking on a body positive fitness journey -- a fitness routine is challenging enough, and when you commit to making it weight neutral is really swimming upstream. You got this! Seek support where you need it.

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