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Tips for New Runners and Fitness Newbies from Coach Suz

This Workout Wednesday post is dedicated to all the New Runners and Fitness Newbies out there! I know that there are quite a few of you who are taking on new fitness challenges in the gym, at home, or outside. Here are some tips on getting started from a running coach and personal trainer.

People love to crab about Resolutioners and the onslaught at gyms this time of year, but you know what? I say YOU GO GLEN COCO. 


Tips for new runners and fitness newbies from personal trainer and running Coach Suz. Take your resolutions by the horns! @suzlyfe

I don’t give a whale’s hooha about whether or not you are simply in the gym because you are already thinking about summer bikini season. My hope for you is that you will make the decision to commit to your healthy lifestyle changes beyond just a few days.

Reasons “Resolutioner” Don’t Stick To Their Goals

a) they set unrealistic expectations

b) they don’t set SMART goals

c) they pick the wrong program

d) they don’t stick with any program long enough or consistently enough to make true, lasting changes, or to understand the changes that have resulted.

e) they don’t consult a running coach or personal trainer (aka your greatest ally)

I’ve put together some essential advice for those new to running, new to fitness, or adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for New Runners and those Setting Healthy Goals and Resolutions

First and foremost….

Coaches and Personal Trainers are Proud of You Newbies

Let’s face it, you have to start somewhere, and regardless of how you start, you are at least trying. And that takes stones, my friend. 

turtle dude nemo

Not all of Us are Judging and Waiting for the Resolutioners to Leave

In fact, I would love it if you all stayed! Let’s bring you into the tribe for some healthy competition.


Let it also be known that by competition, I want you to succeed in a big way. But having you there drives me to another level of performance in my own health, fitness, and activity. All fitness levels are welcome!

Start with a Plan Appropriate to Your CURRENT Fitness Level

 Just because you (cough) were running 8 minute miles during your marathon last fall (cough), doesn’t mean that you will be running 8 minute miles when you get back on that treadmill after x months off. (I’m ::coughing:: because I am totally going to be in that position). Start where you are NOW. Not a month, a year, 10 years ago.

Make it Hard But Possible Inspiration Motivation Anthony Robles

Embrace your starting point so that you can fully appreciate your journey and your goal posts along the way (notice, I didn’t mention an end point to this!). Not only will you even more fully acknowledge your gains and strides, but you will also be more apt to stick with your new fitness challenge if what you have set out for yourself is approachable but just hard enough to capture you.

Wear Properly Fitting Clothes

This tips is for the benefit of all. PLEASE don’t dress for your body of the past or the future. Invest in some high quality workout clothes (like Brick Betty) that will make you feel amazing, support your workout, and will keep you from hiding in the dark!

Suz in Brick Betty Girl on Fire Tank has a brilliant built in sports bra that provides incredible su

Don’t just get workout clothes “that’ll work” or will fall apart after 1 month. Your body is going to change, and properly fitting clothes with change with you.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Unless you are surrounded by obnoxious meat heads, or you ask someone while they are in a rush, there is a high likelihood that if you ask a fitness person about fitness, they will be happy to help you out. If not, don’t count their bad attitude against the rest of us. 

help me help you

Learn Gym Etiquette

If if isn’t appropriate to do in public, don’t do it. Clean up after yourself, don’t sing or carry on, and just be a generally pleasant human being, and you’ll be good. Don’t smack your gum, and if I can hear your music over mine, TURN IT DOWN.


Make an Investment

I have found as a running coach, personal trainer, blogger, and as a customer myself that we are more likely to commit to something that we have made a financial commitment to. Unless you have wads of excess cash in the bank, you are going to get your proverbial money’s worth, am I right? So invest as much as you can afford to; by no means bankrupt yourself, but you need to have multiple levels of accountability.

Accountability and investing in yourself will help you achieve your health and fitness goals!

On the other end of it, find a way to make your fitness affordable: Look at deal sites, use trial memberships (there are tons out there right now), ask if coaches do payment plans (I do!), invest in a few months of training until you have a foundation, and revisit the investment as you can afford. Investing in quality will beget quality in your pursuits!

New Runners and Gymgoers--be not afraid! How to make #health + #fitness stick #workoutwednesday Click To Tweet

Any other pearls of wisdom or tips for new runners and gymgoers? 

What are some past barriers to keep you in the game with your fitness challenges?

Connecting with Fit Foodie Mama, Fruition Fitness, Angelena Marie, and Fitful Focus for Wild Workout Wednesday and Jill for Fitness Friday!

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  • Reply Annmarie

    Love love love! Sound words of wisdom, my friend!

    January 6, 2016 at 5:56 am
  • Reply Run Colby run

    Sage advice Coach Suze! I was relegated to the gym last night because it was below zero up in here and it was JAMMED. Here’s to hoping 2 weeks from now—-it will still be! (And hopefully I’ll be back outside running!) To new beginnings! *Clink*

    January 6, 2016 at 6:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Clinky! Luckily, there isn’t much competition around here for the hand bike, lol.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm
  • Reply Bri

    Fab tips, my friend!

    January 6, 2016 at 6:22 am
  • Reply Julie

    Very good advice coach!! The good fitting clothes is so important to feel confident. I love that top!! Of course I’m layering right now. I always want to remember the feeling after a good run of how amazing my body and mind feel!!

    January 6, 2016 at 6:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously. That is why I wrote that post about getting over yourself and taking that first step. We all need a kickstart!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

    These are great tips and I agree with any task you need to start with where you are now not where you think you want to be. Baby steps and consistency!

    January 6, 2016 at 6:57 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is such a hard thing for people to realize and remember–they are not the same person they were in high school, and that is ok!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie

    Gym etiquette – yes! Although, in my gym experience, I’ve always found the newbies to be extremely kind and courteous. It’s the regulars who think they own the place who commit the gym no-no’s.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:02 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is very true. But the ones that act like that are just beyond hope. But I so agree.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    Fabulous tips! I’d love if everyone could stick with it too. The world would be a happier place ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 6, 2016 at 7:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So much happier. And if they could feel that sticking with it would be encouraged, then smiles beget smiles!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm
  • Reply Renee

    We are on the same wavelength my friend, welcome those people, stick to the plan!

    January 6, 2016 at 7:09 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes yes–totally same wavelength.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm
  • Reply Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home

    haha…a whale’s hooha?

    You crack me up.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:28 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It seemed at least marginally more appropriate. Not really sure why I thought of it.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply Jen @ Pretty Little Grub

    I totally think we need to encourage newbies at the gym. Heck I’m still a newbie with some weight equipment so when someone offers me advice I totally take it.

    January 6, 2016 at 7:43 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Especially if we are about to hurt ourselves–please intervene!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Yes to gym etiquette – and to trail/road etiquette!

    January 6, 2016 at 7:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously. I wish there was a course on it before people started.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm
  • Reply Heather@hungryforbalance

    I agree with everything!! I am always to see new people at the gym! I remember when I first started working out and man, was it humbling! Stick with it is the best advice of all!

    January 6, 2016 at 8:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And it is supposed to be humbling–that is how we rebuild ourselves. Gotta get back to the foundations.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm
  • Reply Heather @Fit n Cookies

    I think the biggest is the unrealistic expectations. When people aren’t seeing results in a few weeks, they just quit. But, they don’t look at other areas, like, are they eating properly, working out enough, etc. One day a week at the gym, or the elliptical at such an easy level it doesn’t even do anything, isn’t going to work! Gotta work hard to make those changes. But, I do love the New Year with people getting into fitness. Who cares if the gym is full. Embrace others and encourage!

    January 6, 2016 at 8:37 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Indeed. Why can’t we all just support each other? It’s like watching Mean Girls, fitness edition.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm
  • Reply Kat

    THIS!! All of this! I know so many people [cough meatheads cough] who stick their noses up at “resolutioners” and complain about them taking their weights. You know what? YOUR NAME ISN’T ON THE DAMN SQUAT RACK! Everyone deserves a chance to get fit and get healtheir, we should come together to support those people, not give them the stare down when you see them approaching gym equipment.

    January 6, 2016 at 9:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      HELL YES. And besides, weren’t those meatheads little prepubescent boys at one point? YES

      January 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm
  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    Best advice! I love that you said you’re not waiting for them to leave. I feel the same way.

    January 6, 2016 at 9:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously, we like warm hugs! And sweaty hugs!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:50 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    You know, the only thing I tell new runners is to not do all of it. Like, don’t do speed work AND hill training AND LSD runs on the weekend when they’re training for their first whatever. In my experience, it’s an injury waiting to happen. I’ve seen it a zillion times. It actually took me YEARS of building mileage before I started incorporating track work into my training.

    January 6, 2016 at 9:54 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yes. When I am working with my clients, I give the a taste of things, but otherwise? we work slowly.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    I wish people just weren’t so scared to get out there and go! Once you get over that hump, you won’t be giving up on those good fitness feelings!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:06 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Exactly. Starting is always the hardest.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    I welcome anyone to make changes our society needs to get their asses into shape! I think the reason I am not a big fan of resolutions is that people set up for this BIG change and change takes time. And when it takes time and the results don’t click soon enough they quit. When I was coming back from my flare I thought I would never run as fast as I had before. Then, all of a sudden I pulled out a PR and managed to PR 3 distances. It took a lot of work and consistency and I think that is what people get discouraged from. So keep it up folks, start small and be consistent!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      YESSSSS. So many yesses. All the yesses!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm
  • Reply Gretchen | Gretchruns

    Such great tips! Dan had to learn these all the hard way last year. He didn’t want to listen to me (you know..someone who’s been running for 3/4 of her life) and definitely suffered because of it. Now he’s letting me help him out and taking my advice, so I’ll have to forward him this post! Thanks for sharing!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:32 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Lolz Same with my husband! Oh boys. They will never understand.

      January 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Awesome tips here!!!! Another of mine is HAVE FUN AND ENJOY WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO! Don’t run if you hate it, for example…there are SO many amazing work outs and sports to choose from. Find the one that works for YOU!

    January 6, 2016 at 10:40 am
  • Reply Ariana

    AWESOME tips. I totally agree with you in that I love when the gym gets busy with Resolutioners! I think it’s great that people are taking the steps to improve their health, and it’s up to us regulars to help ensure they are familiar with gym etiquette and to encourage them to stick with it!

    Another tip I always share with people who are just starting out is to find something you enjoy. Doing a Zumba class may not be the best way to train for a marathon, but if going to one is enough to get you up and out the door that’s great! Set the foundation for making fitness a habit, THEN tailor your training to your specific goals.

    January 6, 2016 at 11:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Such a good point, and one that I definitely thought of. There is something that appeals to everyone–from power lifting to Zumba to yoga to Tae Chi. We all have something that calls to us, so start there, and let it expand beyond that!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Life In Leggings

    These are great tips! I’m sure it’s reassuring for some readers to hear “we love newbies” from you. Hope you’re having a great start to the new year!

    January 6, 2016 at 11:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Happy new year to you too! I hope that the newbies know that we heart them. Everyone has to start somewhere!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Christine Parizo

    I love all this advice! I wish all newbies would read it! It makes me so sad when they start dropping off at the gym.

    January 6, 2016 at 11:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I know–it really is sad to see them get discouraged or just to give in. Give yourself time!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm
  • Reply Shawna

    my tip: if something is hard, do more of it. obviously don’t hurt yourself, but it’s WORK for a reason. it’s supposed to be hard.

    January 6, 2016 at 11:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha. I understand what you mean, and I agree–challenge yourself and do WORK

      January 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    These are such great tips to encourage newbies!

    January 6, 2016 at 11:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Michelle!

      January 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply Margaret @ youngandrungry

    This is such great advice for new runners! I think the most important thing is to make an investment! People are so much more likely to stick with something if they have something invest in it. I worked with a coach last year and learned so much!

    January 6, 2016 at 12:06 pm
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    As I’m a participant, not a coach, please let me just add a few thoughts–
    Since my current workouts are in a riding ring, my needs are a bit different, but I so totally agree with Coach Suz’s points:
    Wear the proper gear. Make sure your running shoes (I wear boots) fit well and are in good shape. They need to fit you, not just look good. Make sure your pants, or whatever you wear on your lower body, are comfortable and move with you!
    Set incremental goals that are realistic and achievable–within a time frame that you can see–not for 5 years from now
    If someone looks like they are new and unsure of what the heck they are doing–smile and say Hi! It will make them feel like a part of the group, not just a new face in the crowd.
    And, I love Coach Suz’s advice on making a financial investment– you are making an investment in yourself.
    Yes, I can ride horses, but right now, I am taking 4 lessons a week. That is a financial commitment and I find I pour myself into every minute–I’ve invested my time and my money into something I love. It is worth every dime!

    January 6, 2016 at 12:25 pm
  • Reply Mar @ Mar on the Run

    yes, yes yes yes yes yes annnnnd YES!

    January 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm
  • Reply Heather @ FITaspire

    Yes! Everyone was new at some point & I hope the new peeps at the gym stick around. And I’m always happy to help someone who looks a little lost ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Seriously. Besides, you never know who might be your next best friend, lol.

      January 6, 2016 at 3:16 pm
  • Reply Erin @ Erin's Inside Job

    Good advice m’lady. I actually discovered that in the personal training world things don’t usually pick up that much in this first month. Gym memberships increase, but actual training kind of stagnates or drops off. WHYYYYYY??

    January 6, 2016 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Because people aren’t making the right investments! You have to wait for the people who are really serious about their health, and that is throughout the year.

      January 6, 2016 at 3:11 pm
  • Reply Beverley @ sweaty&fit

    heheh, love the GIF! Finding Nemo was on TV the other day and i watched it for the first time in AGES! The turtle is the best.
    And i agree! I think a little competition in the gym keeps us healthy. Definitely helps me find motivation for sure

    January 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I love that movie. My now husband hadn’t seen it when we met, so I got him to watch it. He was scarred from the beginning (“It is soooo saaaad!”).
      I think that good vibes beget good vibes. Help us all work a bit harder!

      January 6, 2016 at 3:15 pm
  • Reply Eric Nette

    I’m right there with you on resolutioners, if you are there and you are dedicating yourself you have just as much right as I do. My issue is if you are gabbing on your phone on the treadmill, or not really using the equipment, please get off the equipment so someone who is dedicating themselves to a training program doesn’t have to wait. My other issue lately has been with etiquette (children under 5 should not be accompanying you, it’s dangerous for them to climb on equipment, and the last one had balloons she would pop randomly), be respectful of me and I will be respectful of you.

    January 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I get really nervous about people bringing their kids in. It is one thing to have a teen in there, but so many apartment gyms aren’t regulated, so children run free. It is terrifying!

      January 6, 2016 at 3:13 pm
  • Reply Michele @ paleorunningmomma

    This all totally applies to Adam and his resolution! I have a gut feeling that he’ll actually stick with it, so we’ll see. Even if it’s only that he paid over $100 for the nyc half and wants to feel good running it!

    January 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, it counts! And besides, the NYC half is so worth it ๐Ÿ˜€

      January 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Angie @ Pace with Grace

    I had to laugh at the one about proper gym attire because there has been this new girl at my gym who wears shorts that show almost her entire behind and I can’t even believe she doesn’t notice the draft back there (or if she does, she must not care). It is bad yet I just don’t know if its appropriate to say something to her… Great tips and I agree, best to support them. We all start somewhere!

    January 6, 2016 at 2:54 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I had a few specific people in mind, but I didn’t want to be too straightforward about it, lol.

      January 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Tara

    Ahh, January. Such a great time to be a fitness professional. Always work to do! Great tips for the newbies!

    January 6, 2016 at 4:36 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you! Bring on the babies!

      January 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Great advice! I remember it was really hard for me to stick with a workout routine when I was in college, and every time I went back to the gym it was scary to start all over again. There are so many things I know now that I wish I knew then!

    January 6, 2016 at 5:08 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      SO many things. We should all have to take a course, for real.

      January 7, 2016 at 2:08 pm
  • Reply

    So many great tips Suz. Not just for those new runners and fitness newbies, but also a reminder for those of us who have been doing it longer, as to how hard it can be to start and then STAY COMMITTED.

    I also think it serves as a valuable reminder that we were there ourselves once, so we should encourage the newbies. It can’t be easy coming into an unfamiliar gym, where at first people don’t recognise you and it can be intimidating.

    January 7, 2016 at 3:01 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Maybe that is what people are reacting to–they are scared of or want to forget where they started. Which is, in my opinion, BS. We should be welcoming and nurturing!

      January 7, 2016 at 2:08 pm
  • Reply Courtney Bentley

    Great tips to kick off the New Year! I am always sad to hear that fitness newbies are being laughed at and mocked, its like we ALL START SOMEWHERE! Lots of love and Happy New Year xo C

    January 7, 2016 at 4:38 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is so terrible. Why do people act like that?

      January 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    You go, Glenn Coco! Haha YES!!! All excellent tips for all the newbies out there (and even some oldies too – gym etiquette, people!).

    January 7, 2016 at 9:07 am
  • Reply Friday Five - WindyCityBloggerCollective

    […] your New Yearโ€™s Resolution involves working out, SuzyLyfeโ€™s tips for new runners and fitness fanatics are perfect to help you feel confident and stay on […]

    January 8, 2016 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Jess @hellotofit

    Ohhh Susie, I LOVE this post. You make such a good point that most people don’t commit long enough to see a change, and stop because they DIDNT see one.

    January 8, 2016 at 11:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is such a shame. They don’t realize that changes are not always overt and obvious!

      January 8, 2016 at 11:07 am
  • Reply suzlyfe

    Well, I am working on my pull up!

    January 10, 2016 at 7:59 am
  • Reply Tommy

    I have decided to take up running this year and your tips will surely help me on my quest to fitness. thanks so much for sharing this! ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 12, 2016 at 9:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Tommy, thank you so much for commenting–congrats on deciding to try something new! Please reach out and me know if I can help in any way!

      January 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply Travis

    These are such great tips! I’m really not a fan of running but I really want to include it into my fitness routine.

    January 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Travis, be sure to reach out if you have any questions! I would be happy to help.

      January 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm
  • Reply Cindy Hoffman

    Hey there Suz, these are some great tips. Setting realistic goals that I can reach is always the way forward for me. I also love getting comfortable with my attire every-time I am working out. Thanks for the golden tips.


    January 19, 2016 at 6:25 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you for the sweet comment! Good luck training!

      January 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm
  • Reply Laurie

    I’ve had a trainer at different points throughout my journey, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help if you may need it. These are great tips, thank you for sharing!

    February 3, 2016 at 6:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you for reading! I hope that they help you!

      February 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm
  • Reply Linda Ngo

    Great. It is useful to read your post. Thank you for your tips. I think we should prepare carefully for working out and keeping fit.

    June 17, 2016 at 4:56 am
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