ExercisingThis question has one quick answer: yes. The only thing holding you back is knowledge, a desire to physically push yourself and the ability to get into the athletic mindset and make it your identity. If you were never the soccer player or football star, don’t worry. Athleticism can start at any time in your life and this is how you can get there.

The Mental Aspect

As a fit person, I’ve had many people say, “How do you do it? I just don’t think I could do that.” My response is always, “You could if you wanted to.” The first step to doing anything out of your comfort zone, or normal routine is the desire to make it happen. It sounds silly, but if that desire truly isn’t there, you won’t do it. Simple as that.

Therefore, step one is wanting to become athletic; wanting to put in the work to get there. This starts with mentally preparing yourself: I will do this, I want to do this, I will do what it takes to reach my goals.

Goals are an important part of this process. It’s critical that you make some. When you do, keep SMART in mind—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely. Let’s break it down:

  • Specific: I want to be able to run 3 miles in 3 months without stopping to walk; I want to do 10 unassisted pull-ups by my birthday.
  • Measurable: I want to be able to do 20 pushups; I want to lose 25 pounds.
  • Attainable: My best friend runs half marathons, and I want to run like her.
  • Realistic: I have never run a day in my life, so I will train for a 5K first.
  • Timely: I will get a gym membership on or by Monday.

These not only help to make you accountable, but they also help you decide what it is you want specifically. Yes, you want to be athletic, but in what way? You could be athletic as a yogi, a gym go-er, a runner—you have to decide which one before starting.

 The Physical Component

When you’re in the right state of mind you have to nail down the physical aspect, which is actually doing the work that you’ve planned out for yourself. There are a few ways to make sure this happens:

Start with a personal trainer: Even just one lesson is helpful. Learn a few good exercises, and how to use the equipment and weights at the gym to set you up for a successful journey toward athleticism.

Set short goals: All your goals should be SMART, but you should have both long- and short-term goals to work toward. When you see gains, even from week to week, it makes you excited. Progress and small victories will keep you motivated on the hardest days.

ClockFind a time: Choose a time to workout that you know you’ll stick to. If you’re not a morning person, don’t plan morning workouts—the bottom line is you won’t do them and then you go completely off track. Consider lunchtime and after work, which are often easier times to motivate yourself.

Find a buddy: A lot of people are extrinsic motivators, which means they need something outside of them to keep them going. In this case, a friend can be just what you need. Find a time at least once a week when you can workout together; this adds an element of healthy competition and accountability.

The final component of this process is making it your identity. When you identify with something as being part of who you are, you’re proud of that and it becomes something that is critical to your everyday life, not just something you’ve thrown into your regular routine. Identify yourself as an athlete and you will become one.