Starting is the hardest part of getting back into shape.

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“I hate it. I hate it,” personal trainer Dawn Maynard tells me. She’s talking about exercise.

“I’m a strength specialist who hates to exercise,” Maynard said, when I called her to ask if she could recommend some at-home starting points for the vast majority of us who are exercise-phobes.

It turned out that Maynard, 54, is one of us.

Sure, she exercises — she makes her living at it — but it doesn’t mean she likes it. She likes the effects — the way it makes her feel. She works out because it gives her energy.

“I got tired of being tired,” she explained. “Now, I have the energy of a 20-year-old.”

What small steps can she suggest to let us try out her thesis that exercise will make us feel better?

“Start slow,” said Maynard, issuing an exercise directive we all can love. “Lower expectations,” she continued. Yes!

And, don’t think about losing weight. Yes, again!

“If you focus on weight loss, you’re going to become discouraged,” she said. There will be plenty of time for that. Keep reminding yourself that this is about “getting more energy,” she urged.

Maynard, who works in Bethesda, Md., suggests that exercise-haters start by utilizing movements that come naturally: sitting and standing up.

Using a straight-back chair, slowly sit, then stand.

“Do it until you feel a burn in your muscles,” she said. Keep your back straight, chest facing forward and focus on the movement of your legs. Set a goal of 10 minutes at first.

If you feel unbalanced, Maynard suggests resting one hand against a wall, on a broom handle or on another chair.

Getting started is the hardest part, says Maynard. If you’re reading this sitting down, stand up. Then sit down again, slowly. Then stand up.

Good start. The hardest part is behind you now.