Every new year, previously half full gyms and exercise classes begin to burst at the seams with eager new participants pledging that this will finally be the year that they will make some changes in their exercise regimen. Sadly, by the time January 15th rolls around, the full gyms and exercise classes shrink down to their previous levels only to lie dormant until the next new year.
I have personally trained hundreds of people over the years; and therefore, have a fairly keen eye for those that will make permanent and lasting positive changes to their fitness habits and those that will continue to make huge promises to themselves and others that last but a few weeks. I have compiled a list of the common traits that each of these people possess, as well as some helpful tips to get you on your way towards your fitness goals…
I can count on one hand the amount of people who have had lasting success with their exercise program when they are being dragged to an exercise class or gym by a friend or been have been told by a doctor or spouse that they need to begin exercising. Exercise needs to be a personal decision that someone fully believes in and gets excited about. Sometimes exercise is not fun and can get quite uncomfortable, if exercising at higher intensities, but if a person absolutely dreads performing a certain type of exercise, maybe they need to look for alternatives like sports or group classes.
The most common excuse for not following through on an exercise plan is lack of time or “life getting in the way.” There are a lot of very good exercise programs that are less than 3 hours per week in duration. There are a lot of very good individual workouts that are less than 15 minutes in duration. A good set of bands or adjustable dumbbells at home can suffice for a good exercise plan. Set a time to get it done. If it doesn’t happen in that timeframe due to circumstances outside of your control, you will probably need to stay up late or get up early the next day to fit it in.
Out of all the people I work with, usually those that have specific goals are more successful at sticking to their exercise plan. Getting healthy is a fine goal, but usually leads to boredom and listlessness due to the vague path it takes. Training to get better at a sport, training to become faster, training for a marathon or competition (even if you don’t plan on competing), improving individual lifts like the squat, or improving work capacity are all quantifiable goals that can be measured and improved and therefore, may be better at holding the interest of someone exercising.
A common place to derive a workout plan is from fitness magazines or from celebrities hawking their latest workout dvd. While a person can find success using those resources, one must ensure that the workout meets the criteria of the first three things on this list. Is it something you enjoy? Will it work with your schedule? Is it getting you closer to your goals? The plan should be something that a person can sustain and is progressive in nature so that the person slowly improves towards their goals over time.
Hopefully this list is helpful to people looking to make lasting changes in their exercise habits and regimens. Small and subtle changes are usually the best course of action. Start with consistently doing the minimum and progress over time.
Good luck with your fitness endeavours in the new year and beyond!