The new year and summer marks the beginning of an increase in gym traffic as we come out of winter hibernation and get more active as the weather heats up. Unfortunately, much of this early enthusiasm can fade.
Here are six things we suggest to help keep you going, motivated and enjoying your fitness routine.
Have a reason why
Having a specific purpose behind your training serves as a strong foundation for sticking with your program. Knowing your “why” will help you set a meaningful goal to act as your motivation to exercise. Having a “why” also serves as a reminder of what you truly value and why it’s important to do all the little things that are necessary, inconvenient and oftentimes uncomfortable in order to reach your goals. This is particularly important during the initial period of breaking old habits and establishing new ones.
Make a plan
This one may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many people enter the gym with no clear plan, resulting in them performing whatever exercises come to mind at the time. The problem with this approach is that random training produces random results. Particular training goals have specific training requirements. If you’re not sure how to design an exercise program, speak to a professional like a personal trainer or exercise physiologist who can design a routine for you. Then check in with them for intermittent reviews of your progress.
Get good advice
Coming in hot on the heels of having a plan is seeking out good health advice. The health and fitness industry is one where everyone has an opinion on what’s best. This isn’t helped by the short-lived fads and constant claims of “28 days to the best results of your life”. Make sure you only listen to qualified professionals you trust and remember that if any claim seems too good to be true, then it probably is!
Keep it fun
This is a pretty simple one: people do what they enjoy. If you want to make meaningful, long-term changes to your health then you need to enjoy what you’re doing. Maintaining your motivation and sticking with your plan is a whole lot easier if you look forward to exercising. There’s a saying in the fitness industry: “The worst program in the world done with enthusiasm will beat the best program in the world done half-arsed”.
An often-overlooked part of starting a new training program is the need for patience. Meaningful change takes time to achieve and it’s easy to become disheartened by a lack of fast results. While you may be able to lose a lot of weight quickly with a crash diet, the chances are pretty high that you won’t be able to sustain it for long. Understanding your motivation for training and having a plan are crucial when progress is slower because they provide guardrails to keep you on track.
Words by Hugh Campbell an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Strength and Conditioning Coach.