This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

What do you need to get back into working out?

If it’s been a while since you worked out, you might be wondering how to get back in the swing of things. A good place to begin is by conducting a personal inventory to determine your motivations, goals and current fitness level.

In addition to that, you’ll probably need to make a few investments in anticipation of your return to the gym, studio or trail. Besides workout clothes and athletic shoes, you may need new headphones, water bottles or home exercise equipment. 

What to know before you begin working out again

Assess your fitness level

Before diving into intense workouts, it’s essential to assess your current fitness level. It’s important to be aware of your health status, including whether you have conditions or injuries that may impact — or inhibit — your activity level.

Additionally, many people obtain physical exams from their primary care physician prior to embarking on new exercise regimens. This may include blood work, urine tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG). 

Warming up is important

Whether you’re taking a yoga class or running a mile, warming up is non-negotiable. According to Healthline, warming up may increase flexibility, boost circulation, minimize muscle tension or lower the risk of injury. 

Gaiam Essentials Yoga Block

Warming up takes on a variety of forms, most notably with stretching, squats, planks or a slow-paced walk. Some of these exercises can be done with the help of yoga blocks, exercise balls or weight benches. 

Nutrition matters

Re-entering an active lifestyle means you’ll require more energy to trudge through tough workouts. The much-needed energy boost comes from eating a balanced diet, which according to Healthline, is an effective way to support your fitness program.

It’s helpful to understand exactly what you’re eating, as well as how it impacts your body. Begin by taking a look at macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, protein and fat:

  • Carbohydrates, like rice, potatoes and oatmeal, function as a source of energy.
  • Protein, such as meat, fish and legumes, helps maintain and build muscle mass.
  • Fats, like olive oil, seeds and avocados, support cell growth and contribute to vitamin absorption. 

Today is the Day: A 90 Day Food + Fitness Journal: Daily Activity and Fitness Tracker to Cultivate a Better You

Depending on the intensity of your workouts, you may need to adjust your macronutrient levels. The easiest way to do this is by logging meals in a food journal or food tracking app. 

How to get back into working out: A step-by-step guide

Find activities that suit you

It’s one thing to start working out, but sticking with it is a totally different challenge. To stay committed, it’s a good idea to find physical activities that engage you. 

Group fitness classes:

For some people, group fitness classes are the way to go. They appreciate the encouragement from instructors, plus they feed off the energy of other people in the class. Many group fitness classes, like Spin and Zumba, use music to keep everyone amped up during exercises. 

Weight training:

Fitness Gear 32 lb. Neoprene Dumbbell Kit

Other people get into weight training and use a variety of exercise machines, free weights and kettlebells. However, they don’t limit themselves to lifting. Rather, they incorporate cardio workouts to balance out their exercise regimen.

Virtual workouts:

Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike

Some people embrace virtual workouts, in which they work out to fitness classes on demand or participate in live classes. It’s a popular option for those seeking alternatives to gyms and outdoor exercise. There are some smart workout machines that also fall into this category, like the Schwinn IC4 Indoor Cycling Bike.

Outdoor exercise:

From hiking to kayaking, the great outdoors has plenty to offer individuals who want to stay active. Some people join outdoor exercise groups, whereas others may enjoy solo activities like walks or bike rides. 

Design a home exercise routine

It’s easy for your fitness program to come to a screeching halt in the event you can’t get to the gym, studio or park. To make sure you stay on track with fitness goals, design a home exercise routine as a viable alternative. 

NordicTrack T Series Treadmill

This may include investing in home gym equipment, like a treadmill or rowing machine. While these machines are expensive and have large footprints, many of them offer gym-quality workouts.

ProBody Pilates Ring

Another option is to buy space-savvy alternatives to larger pieces of gym equipment. If you miss the Pilates reformer at the studio, for example, invest in a Pilates ring and mat to do floor-based exercises. 

How to compare gym memberships

If you’re thinking of joining a gym, you’ll want to compare membership perks and prices among different facilities. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Read gym contracts thoroughly to see what you’re signing up for. Be aware of all the fees involved, including sign-up and cancellation fees, as well as the cost to freeze memberships.
  • Some chain gyms offer two types of memberships. Single-location memberships are less expensive, whereas multi-gym memberships are often pricier. However, it’s worth considering the latter if you travel often or live near several locations. 
  • Certain gyms include fitness classes as part of their membership perks; however, others charge separate “drop-in” fees for each class you take. 

If you’re over the age of 65, you may be eligible for a SilverSneakers membership through some Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers is a health and fitness program that lets you join participating gyms for free and use most, if not all, of their amenities. 

According to Healthline, thousands of gyms nationwide participate in SilverSneakers. To find a SilverSneakers location near you, visit their website

What you need to buy to get back into working out

Workout clothes

Under Armour Tech 2.0 T-Shirt

Under Armour Tech 2.0 T-Shirt

A customer favorite for its lightweight, comfortable fit, this Under Armor shirt is made with wick-away material that sweeps sweat away from the body. 

Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Champion Closed Bottom Lightweight Jersey Jogger

Champion Closed Bottom Lightweight Jersey Jogger

This classic Champion jogger is made with soft jersey material and features a flexible, athletic cut. 

Sold by Amazon

Ideology Heathered Keyhole-Back Tank Top

Ideology Heathered Keyhole-Back Tank Top

Wearers appreciate the soft design of this workout tank, which has flatlock seams and comes in a variety of heathered colors. 

Sold by Macy’s

CALIA by Carrie Underwood Energize 7/8 Legging

CALIA by Carrie Underwood Energize 7/8 Legging

The side pockets on these premium leggings are spacious enough to hold devices, keys or small wallets. The legging offers a flattering, second-skin fit. 

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Athletic footwear

New Balance Men’s Fresh Foam 1080 V11 Running Shoe

New Balance Men’s Fresh Foam 1080 V11 Running Shoe

Designed for performance, these premium New Balance running shoes feature a supportive heel cup and Ortholite cushioning.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

ASICS GEL-Contend 7 Women's Running Shoes

ASICS GEL-Contend 7 Women’s Running Shoes

Thanks to the mesh and gel construction of this versatile running shoe, feet stay cool and dry. The style has a foam padded footbed for shock absorption. 

Sold by Kohl’s, Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods


Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro are considered ideal for high-impact workouts given their sweat-resistant design and custom-fit ear tips. They’re praised for their rich sound quality and long battery life.

Sold by Amazon

Mighty Vibe Music Player

Mighty Vibe Music Player

Those with Spotify Premium or Amazon Music subscriptions can use the Mighty Vibe, a Bluetooth wireless music player, to enjoy podcasts and playlists without lugging around their phones. 

Sold by Amazon

Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch

Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch

Stay on top of fitness goals with this smartwatch, which also provides real-time readings of heart rate, steps and active minutes. It has built-in Alexa and can control Spotify and Pandora playlists.

Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Macy’s

Home exercise equipment

URBNFit Exercise Ball

URBNFit Exercise Ball

This affordable exercise ball is available in five sizes. It supports up to 2,000 pounds of weight and is considered ideal for core workouts. 

Sold by Amazon

Bodygym Core System Portable Home Gym

Bodygym Core System Portable Home Gym

This all-in-one resistance training set comes with a bar and bands that can be used in countless ways. All Bodygym accessories fit inside a carry case for easy portability. 

Sold by Amazon 

Bowflex SelectTech 553 Dumbbells

Bowflex SelectTech 553 Dumbbells

If you’re short on space but love to lift, this adjustable dumbbell set is a smart buy. It adjusts between 5 and 52.5 pounds in 2.5-inch increments.

Sold by Bowflex


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.